Can CBD help with fibromyalgia pain?
On a typical day, people with fibromyalgia experience a constant background of pain — muscle aches, joint stiffness, tender bones — that make everyday tasks excruciating and exhausting.
The fatigue associated with fibromyalgia is also a constant challenge.
Oftentimes, it feels like the person with fibromyalgia is running on an empty battery, no matter how much sleep they get, which can impact the person's responsibilities at home, work, and leisure time with friends and family.
While there's no cure for fibromyalgia, there is a combination of treatments that include prescription medications, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies available that help to address symptoms.
One natural option many people turn to includes compounds from the cannabis plant, specifically cannabidiol or CBD.
There's not much clinical research yet on CBD for fibromyalgia pain, but survey-based studies point to positive results as there are some unique properties of CBD that may help to address symptoms, including pain, sleep disturbances, mood, and more.
In this article, we'll look at how people are using CBD to manage fibromyalgia symptoms and what the current medical cannabis literature says.
Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder that's difficult to diagnose and treat. It's characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and depressive episodes that severely impact the individual's quality of life.
Treatment for fibromyalgia involves medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and many alternative therapies, yet still, many people are looking towards cannabis-based treatments for additional relief from symptoms.
While research on clinical human studies on CBD for fibromyalgia is limited, there are surveys that point to positive outcomes with CBD use.
You should always consult with a healthcare professional if you think you have fibromyalgia or if you're on medication and are considering adding CBD to your routine.
What is CBD?
It seems like everywhere you look, you'll find something about the benefits of CBD.
But how can one compound provide all the purported benefits towards sleep, pain relief, stress, energy levels, and inflammation — let alone CBD for fibromyalgia?
Well, it has a lot to do with how CBD works in the body.
CBD or cannabidiol is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant with unique properties because of its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, a network of signaling molecules, receptors, and enzymes present in all mammals that helps to maintain homeostasis (balance) in systems involved in pain sensation, mood, memory, inflammation, and more.
CBD is harvested from hemp plants and formulated into a wide range of different product types, such as pure oil, capsules, creams, and smokables, and in varying concentrations, depending on what type of experience the user is looking for.
When it comes to CBD for fibromyalgia pain, people report using higher concentrated dosages with both topical and internal CBD products for symptom relief.
How does it work?
When CBD enters the body, it acts as a "backup" to the signaling molecules in the endocannabinoid system ("endocannabinoids"), helping to provide a much more robust and well-oiled system.
Because every individual will have a unique endocannabinoid system, CBD may offer different effects to bring that individual back to a state of balance.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic neurological disease characterized by widespread muscle and skeletal pain and tenderness in the body as well as chronic fatigue. While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, it's believed to involve genetics, environmental factors, and psychological stress.
Before we get into how people are using CBD for fibromyalgia, it's important to get a grasp of what exactly this disorder is, how it's diagnosed, and how it's treated.
People with fibromyalgia have a heightened sensitivity to pain due to abnormalities in the nervous system and the way their brain processes pain signals .
Diagnosing fibromyalgia is another obstacle because there's no specific test or imaging study that can definitively diagnose the condition. It's categorized as a subjective pain syndrome, which includes irritable bowel syndrome and migraines, as these chronic disorders lack objective signs and remain treatment resistant.
A doctor will make the diagnosis based on the combination of the patient's medical history and physical examination and ruling out other conditions that may be causing harm.
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition without a cure. However, fibromyalgia patients can somewhat manage pain and other symptoms through a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies.
If you suspect that you have fibromyalgia, please reach out to your healthcare provider before you start using CBD for fibromyalgia pain or other health condition.
How Are People Using CBD For Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
With cannabis use becoming more mainstream thanks to the breakdown of cannabis stigma, legalization, and advancements in medical marijuana and hemp research, the accessibility of hemp-derived CBD products has helped many people reach their wellness goals.
And while CBD products are becoming increasingly popular, it's important to understand that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved.
These statements listed below are purely based on how other people have been using CBD for symptom relief, taken alongside physician guidance.
1. CBD For Widespread Pain
Widespread pain is the most common symptom associated with fibromyalgia.
The pain experienced by fibromyalgia patients is commonly described as a deep, persistent ache felt all over the body. It can be a combination of muscle soreness, stiffness, and burning sensation with more sensitivity on certain areas, including the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs.
While pain medications are often prescribed to deal with chronic pain, it comes with a host of side effects that people don't want to have to depend on. This is where CBD for fibromyalgia comes in.
One way CBD may help with widespread pain is through its support of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in the regulation of pain sensation and inflammation .
If you're looking for a more enjoyable way to incorporate CBD into your routine, gummies make the task of taking supplements both fun and flavorful. Take note that knowing where to buy CBD gummies for pain from a reliable source can be crucial in effectively managing widespread symptoms.
2. CBD For Sleep Disturbances
Sleep disturbances are common in fibromyalgia patients. Some of the most common sleep issues reported include difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently, or non-restorative sleep — even if they're able to sleep throughout the night, they still feel exhausted and unrefreshed becasue of interruptions in the storage stages of sleep.
Many people find CBD for fibromyalgia sleep disturbances to be particularly helpful.
To use CBD for sleep, it's recommended to use larger doses (50 mg +) about an hour before your ideal bedtime, along with other sleep hygiene practices that help prepare the body and mind for rest.
3. CBD For Fibro Fog
The "Fibro Fog" is a term that describes one of the cognitive symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, which include difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, slowed thinking, memory problems, confusion, and impaired judgment.
Experts still aren't exactly sure as to what causes the fibro fog, but it's believed to be related to the neurological changes that occur in fibromyalgia patients.
While there isn't any research on CBD for fibromyalgia fog, there are some studies that suggest CBD and other cannabinoids may have neuroprotective effects, meaning it has properties that help to protect the brain from damage .
4. CBD For Digestive Health
Thy symptoms of fibromyalgia seem to vary from person to person, but another common experience with fibromyalgia is digestive issues that include abdominal pain, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Stress, anxiety, and other psychological factors are believed to contribute to the digestive issues associated with fibromyalgia.
CBD has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for conditions related to inflammation, such as IBS .
While most of the medical benefits of CBD for fibromyalgia and digestive issues are conducted on animals, it does show the potential to provide relief for many individuals and warrants further research.
5. CBD For Fibromyalgia Stiffness
Fibromyalgia stiffness is described as having tight bands around the muscles that restrict movement and cause straining and pain, mostly experienced in the neck, back, and shoulders.
The most common treatments for this tightness include regular exercise, heat therapy, stretching, and massage.
Many fibromyalgia patients find that incorporating high-potency CBD products in this routine can help make exercise, stretching, and massage much more comfortable through its potential muscle relaxant properties [7, 8].
6. CBD For Stress
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for fibromyalgia sufferers to also experience anxiety and depression.
Living with chronic pain conditions can be debilitating, as it significantly impacts an individual's quality of life.
Managing anxiety and depression in people with fibromyalgia is best tackled in a multi-faceted approach with a health care professional's guidance, exercise, stress-reduction techniques, a nutritious diet, sleep hygiene practices, therapy, medication, and community support.
And many people like to add medicinal cannabis or non-prescription CBD products into their stress management regimen. CBD has been found to have potential anti-anxiety properties that can help to improve one's mood and general outlook on life .
CBD products for mood support are best taken internally as either CBD oil, CBD gummies, CBD capsules, CBD tea, or smoked.
This is becasue CBD can interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system to exert its effects, which doesn't occur with topical CBD use.
Research On CBD For Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is an incredibly complex and still poorly understood condition with very few treatment options available to alleviate symptoms.
And while the cannabis plant has a long history of use in treating chronic pain, evidence of CBD for fibromyalgia is still being collected as cannabis use increases with global trends.
Promising patient surveys suggest significant improvement in pain scores, improvement of sleep, and general symptom relief associated with the condition with CBD use.
Participants of an online global survey on the effectiveness of CBD for fibromyalgia found:
3,455 participants started the survey, and 2,762 completed it (79.3% completion rate).
The main reason for trying CBD was inadequate symptom relief from current forms of treatment.
Nearly a third of FM patients used CBD to manage pain or other symptoms.
Safety was the main concern of those who had not tried CBD products.
CBD products were helpful for a broad array of symptoms associated with FM and chronic pain, including pain, anxiety, and sleep .
The Takeaway: CBD For Fibromyalgia
Treating fibromyalgia continues to be a challenge for the medical community as it's a complex disorder.
While current treatments available have limited efficacy for improving patients' quality of life, there are personal accounts that suggest CBD products, derived from hemp, devoid of psychoactive influence, may alleviate pain, improve sleep, and reduce associated symptoms in fibromyalgia patients.
However, the clinical evidence for CBD for fibromyalgia pain is limited, and the use of cannabis products is not without risks and side effects.
Further research is needed to define appropriate patient treatment regimens.
A large online survey of individuals with fibromyalgia found that nearly a third currently used CBD for fibromyalgia symptoms, mainly for inadequate relief of pain or other symptoms. These results highlight the importance of continued research into CBD and other potential treatments for fibromyalgia.
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Frequently Asked Questions On CBD For Fibromyalgia
1. Will CBD products get me high?
CBD does not affect the brain the same way THC — the main psychoactive cannabinoid — does in marijuana, so it doesn't lead to feelings of intoxication, even with high doses.
As long as the CBD product you're using is derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC, you shouldn't experience a high.
2. Is CBD legal?
Hemp-derived CBD products were made legal when the 2018 Farm Bill came into effect, removing hemp from the list of controlled substances with no currently accepted medical use.
Hemp is defined as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC by weight, which means CBD products made from hemp are legal in all 50 states.
3. What are the side effects associated with CBD for fibromyalgia?
CBD is found to be non-toxic and relatively safe for most individuals, but it doesn't mean that you can't have negative experiences with CBD.
Some of the side effects associated with CBD include headaches, stomach upset, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and lethargy.
Luckily, the side effects of CBD are rare, and as long as you stick to a high-quality product and find a dose that suits your needs, you won't have to worry about these temporary side effects.
4. Does CBD have interactions with pain medicine?
It's not advised that you mix CBD with any other pain medications, as it can result in adverse effects.
CBD is processed by the liver, which means it can slow down your liver's ability to metabolize most medications, meaning you can end up with a dangerous concentration of medication in your system.
This is why it's important to speak with your healthcare practitioner if you're on medications and are interested in incorporating CBD into your routine.
5. What's the dose of CBD products?
CBD can affect individuals differently due to their unique body chemistry and other various lifestyle factors, so there are no one-size-fits-all approach to using CBD.
If you're starting out with an ingestible CBD product, you should start slow and low to help reduce the chance of triggering a negative outcome.
A good place to start is anywhere from 10–15 mg of CBD per day and work your way up over the course of several days until you find the relief you're after.