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Your Ultimate Guide to Using CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia affects about 10 million Americans . The condition is incurable, but there are treatments for managing pain.
Research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) can benefit those suffering from fibromyalgia and other health issues. Continue reading to learn about using CBD oil for fibromyalgia. You can visit The Cannabis Radar to get the best CBD oil for fibromyalgia, for others, please keep reading the article.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition. A person with FM feels pain throughout their muscles and bones, and fatigue. Symptoms include:
- Low pain threshold
- Burning sensation
- Muscle tightness or spasms
- Headaches or general aching
- Foggy cognition
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Some people may experience inflammation, but fibromyalgia doesn’t involve tissue damage.
While no one knows what causes FM, we have some ideas. It could be genetic or from trauma, such as an illness or injury. The spinal cord and brain may process pain differently.
Someone is more likely to have FM if they:
- have other pain conditions
- have a mood disorder
- aren’t physically active
- are female
- have been abused
- have/had PTSD
An endocannabinoid deficiency could be the problem. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for responding to cannabis. The system helps regulate mood, pain and sensation, memory, and appetite.
A lack of receptors in this system would explain the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
There is a variety of treatments for fibromyalgia. They usually consist of medication, mental health management, and implementing physically healthy habits.
So far, the FDA has approved three medicines for FM. They are Lyrica, Savella, and Cymbalta.
Other medicines that are suggested to some are non-opiate pain killers like NSAIDs. These are over-the-counter unless a high dose is prescribed. There are medicines that can treat specific symptoms.
Anti-depressants and psychotherapy help manage the anxiety and depression that can come with having fibromyalgia. Joining a support group may be beneficial.
Getting a good night’s sleep often provides pain relief. Here are some ways to make sure you sleep well.
Don’t nap. If you have to, only nap for an hour. Starting moving right when you wake up.
Fall asleep and wake up at the same time. Setting an alarm is a good idea.
Don’t have alcohol or caffeine in the evening. Don’t have spicy foods or liquids before bed.
Engage in exercise that’s regular and at least three hours before bed. Set a schedule and use a timer.
Sleep in a quiet, cool, and dark room. Make sure you’re relaxed when you go to bed. Take a bath, have some tea, do yoga or meditate, or listen to soothing music.
Don’t watch TV or use anything with a screen. The light will keep you awake longer.
Alternative treatments for FM include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, physical therapy, aromatherapy, and chiropractic sessions.
Cannabidiol is a compound derived from marijuana. CBD can’t get you high, as it doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) like marijuana. Only a small percentage of people feel euphoric effects similar to those of marijuana.
THC causes negative mood changes such as anxiety and paranoia. CBD reduces these effects.
CBD also activates the endocannabinoid system. This helps improve the body’s response to pain among other benefits, making it a possible treatment for many conditions involving pain. It’s a promising alternative to opioids because CBD isn’t addictive.
CBD has been used to treat mood disorders, schizophrenia, insomnia. cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other conditions.
This treatment was FDA-approved for epilepsy in 2018. The medicine is called Epidiolex. Specifically, it’s used to treat people of 2 years and older with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia
Research on CBD oil for pain relief in FM patients is ongoing. There are only a few studies to look at currently.
Studies have suggested that CBD reduces glial cell activity. Over-activity of these cells causes increased reaction to sensation. This is a symptom of fibromyalgia.
There is evidence that CBD can effectively treat irritable bowel syndrome and migraines. These are central sensitivity syndromes like fibromyalgia.
Some FM patients have inflammation, and research suggests that CBD can reduce inflammation. CBD also diminishes endocannabinoid deficiency, a problem of those with FM.
Many CBD oil users have reported relief of pain, insomnia, muscle tension, and anxiety. These are all FM symptoms.
A 2011 study found that cannabis had multiple benefits for fibromyalgia patients. They felt more relaxed, sleepy, and had less pain and muscle tension.
Another study supported CBD as a treatment for neuropathic pain. As mentioned before, CBD may reduce or eliminate an endocannabinoid deficiency. This explains why the drug alleviates pain.
More research is needed to understand the effectiveness of CBD on FM. While some studies support CBD, others do not. The results are mixed because it’s difficult to control every variable.
The laws around CBD and marijuana make it hard to find quality doses of them. Researchers have trouble controlling the potency and dosage of both drugs. Some studies are more subjective than objective.
CBD for fibromyalgia brings relief to those who rely on opioid medications. These medicines are legal, but people can easily become addicted to them. CBD is non-addictive.
How to Use
There are a variety of ways to use CBD. Smoking or vaping brings immediate pain relief that lasts up to three hours. People with respiratory issues shouldn’t intake CBD this way.
CBD oil comes as a tincture, cream, and pill. Creams are especially good for inflammation and tender areas on the body.
Tinctures are extracts that can be put directly into the mouth or mixed with food or a drink. They’re usually in a dropper bottle, making it a discreet medication for those who need it during the day. This method gives four to five hours of relief and activates in about thirty minutes.
Tinctures can come in spray form. The oil is meant to be sprayed under the tongue.
CBD can be ingested through foods, butter, or oil. It takes longer for the drug to relieve pain, but it lasts for up to six hours.
Be sure to take the correct CBD dosage. Going over the prescribed dose is unlikely to endanger you, but it won’t work effectively. High doses can cause confusion and sleepiness.
To ensure quality and the appropriate potency, purchase CBD from dispensaries and places that have had the product tested by others. The container the CBD comes in should have a warning section, an FDA disclaimer, and a batch number. You should also be able to find out what the specific ingredients are.
It’s safer to buy CBD (and really any medication) in-store. In-store grocers typically have an investigative process implemented. Still, you should research the company you’re going to get the CBD from.
Make sure you know whether your medication is an isolate CBD or full-spectrum. Isolate CBD is CBD by itself. Full-spectrum CBD is a combination of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids such as cannabigerol or cannabidivarin.
This mixed CBD has stronger effects than isolate CBD. Taking it would require a much lower dose compared to taking CBD alone.
Like with any drug, CBD works differently for everyone. Some may not have any problems and others may experience side effects. Symptoms can include:
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
CBD inhibits cytochrome p450, enzymes that assist in breaking down drugs in the liver. Be cautious about taking CBD with medicines that warn about eating grapefruit. You may want to avoid eating grapefruit while on CBD.
Ask your doctor about using CBD to avoid negative interactions with your current medications.
According to The Hemp Farming Act in the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is legal on the federal level. This applies to CBD derived from hemp. Hemp is any cannabis plant that has less than 0.3% THC.
CBD made from marijuana has higher levels of THC, and is not federally legal. It’s only legal in states that have legalized marijuana.
The only FDA-approved CBD medicine, Epidiolex, is derived from marijuana. If a child suffering from epilepsy and lives in a state where cannabis is illegal, they can’t legally obtain Epidiolex. This shows how laws can work against each other.
CBD Is Beneficial
Although fibromyalgia isn’t curable, research is gathering evidence in support of CBD for fibromyalgia symptom relief. Conducting more studies will help us pinpoint how CBD works and get it FDA-approved. The legality of hemp-derived CBD has helped make this possible.
If you decide to try CBD for fibromyalgia, be aware that it could be illegal where you are if it’s marijuana-derived. Most people get the best results by combining the drug with other treatments.
CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia Treatment: Dosage & Effectiveness
The National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) estimates that about 10 million people in the United States suffer from fibromyalgia. This chronic illness entails a combination of bad symptoms such as pains, aches, stiffness, fatigue, and sleep problems.
The conventional treatment for fibromyalgia revolves around several types of prescription medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, anti-seizure medications, and antidepressants.
However, each of these drugs is known to result in an array of adverse reactions and side-effects, and many of them are simply ineffective.
These are the reasons why many people suffering from fibromyalgia look for natural alternatives to make their lives more manageable. Among these natural solutions is CBD oil, a high-CBD extract derived from cannabis plants.
In this article, I’ll give you my personal recommendations regarding the best CBD oil brands for alleviating your symptoms. I’ll also cover the research on CBD and fibromyalgia and discuss different consumption methods and dosages.
Best CBD Oil Brands for Fibromyalgia
Choosing the best CBD oil for symptoms of fibromyalgia can prove a challenge, especially with so many brands and different products available in the booming market.
Plenty of factors come into play, such as the source of hemp, extraction method, laboratory testing, the potency of CBD, and the cannabinoid spectrum of your oil.
It’s important you only buy from trusted brands that provide a high level of transparency to prove the quality of their products.
I’ve been using CBD oil for over 4 years now and I know the pain of trial and error. To save you from throwing blind guesses, I’ve prepared a list of 3 brands that I completely trust. Each of them offers full-spectrum CBD crafted to the highest standards and lab-tested for potency and safety.
1. Royal CBD
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
- Royal CBD uses locally-grown organic hemp
- The company makes its products with supercritical CO2 extraction
- Their product lineup features full-spectrum CBD oil, capsules, and isolate-based gummies
- The oil comes in 4 potency options: 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 2500 mg
- Very potent: up to 83.3 mg of CBD in each mL of oil
- The hemp extract is suspended in premium MCT oil
- Each batch of product has been tested in a 3rd-party laboratory
- Slightly more expensive than the other brands, although it’s well justified by the quality of ingredients
My Thoughts on Royal CBD:
Royal CBD is a relatively new brand. The company first launched in 2018 by a group of health-conscious cannabis aficionados who decided to make simplicity and premium quality of ingredients their identification mark.
Royal CBD offers full-spectrum CBD oil in two basic formats — oil drops and capsules. The oil is available in four different strengths:
The 2500 mg bottle is the new addition to the company’s product lineup — for people who need higher doses of cannabidiol in their lives. Unlike many other oils, this one has a nice, natural taste accented by nutty undertones that make the whole experience very smooth.
If you don’t have the time for measurements and need a more convenient way to take CBD, you may try Royal CBD softgels. Each capsule comes with a fixed concentration of CBD (25 mg per capsule), allowing for easy dosing and hassle-free use on the go.
2. Gold Bee (Best Organic)
- Unique product selection
- non-GMO, Colorado grown hemp
- Full-spectrum CBD
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- 1200 mg of CBD per bottle (40 mg/mL)
- Sweetened with organic honey
- Third-party lab tested for potency and purity
- No high-strength oils
- Limited flavor options
My Thoughts On Gold Bee:
Founded in California by a group of cannabis advocates with a background in the superfoods industry, Gold Bee specializes in all-organic CBD products, including full-spectrum CBD oil, capsules, gummies, and honey sticks.
What makes Gold Bee stand out from the crowd is the unique formula they use in their extracts. Gold Bee combines organically grown hemp with honey that comes from Brazillian rainforests. The company’s CBD oil is available in one potency option: 1200 mg of CBD per bottle. This product contains 40 mg of full-spectrum CBD in each milliliter. As a whole-plant oil, it also evokes the entourage effect, which researchers describe as the synergy between all active compounds in hemp. Gold Bee has infused the CBD extract into MCT oil for increased bioavailability and a more subtle flavor.
All Gold Bee’s products are third-party lab tested for potency and purity. The company has a 30-day money-back guarantee for those looking to try out their CBD oil in a risk-free way.
- CBDPure products are sourced from Colorado-grown organic hemp
- The company uses supercritical CO2 to make its extracts
- All products go through 3rd-party laboratory testing for potency and purity
- 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed — you can return your product within 90 days for a full refund.
- Narrow product selection
- The oil is slightly less potent than Royal CBD
My Thoughts on CBDPure:
CBDPure is a Colorado-based company that’s been selling high-quality CBD oils made from organic hemp for over 3 years now.
Although the company has a very modest product lineup — they only sell CBD oil and capsules — it’s mastered these formats. All CBDPure products are made with CO2 extraction and tested in a third-party laboratory to prove their quality.
Their CBD oil isn’t as strong as the one offered by Royal CBD, so it works better for a general health boost or mild symptom relief. If you want something stronger but like the transparency of CBDPure, you may go for their softgel capsules — they come with 25mg of full-spectrum cannabidiol.
If you somehow end up unsatisfied with your purchase, CBDPure will give you a full refund if your return your order within 90 days under their 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed program.
- Their products are made with locally-grown hemp
- Available as full-spectrum CBD or pure CBD oil (THC-free)
- Each batch of product is sent to a 3rd-party laboratory for content analysis
- Up to 5000mg of CBD per bottle
- CBDistillery is a very affordable brand
- The company doesn’t use organic hemp
- No flavored options available
My Thoughts on CBDistillery:
CBDistillery is a company that emphasizes the importance of education on top of selling high-quality CBD oil at very affordable prices. The company caters to every type of CBD consumer out there — the products they offer are available in a wide potency range from 250 mg to 5000 mg of total CBD.
They also sell CBD isolate slab, capsules, gummies, and vapes — all of these products have been tested in an independent laboratory for quality assurance and the company publishes the lab results on their website so you know exactly what you’re buying.
The reason why CBDistillery scores lower than Royal CBD and CBDPure is the way they source their hemp. The plants aren’t organic, so the quality of the end product is lower than the competition. Nevertheless, that’s well justified by the way CBDistillery prices its CBD oil. The company may not offer the best CBD oil out there, but it’s definitely the best CBD oil in this price range.
What Exactly is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that occurs when a person suffers from recurring pains in the bones and muscles, chronic fatigue, and localized tenderness. The causes of fibromyalgia aren’t clear yet and the symptoms may vary between individuals — it is often misdiagnosed as another illness.
Despite the scant knowledge in this area, doctors and medical researchers stress that fibromyalgia may derive from several different causes, from genetics to stress, trauma, infections, as well as certain auto-immune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Gender plays an important role, too, since women make up 80–90% of all fibromyalgia patients.
Due to the complexity of the disorder, many medical professionals refuse to classify fibromyalgia as a separate disease. Still, the awareness of this condition is growing and researchers are striving to understand the nature of fibromyalgia and find an effective treatment.
Among lifestyle changes — such as diet, physical activity, sleeping habits, stress management — people often incorporate natural supplementation into their daily routine. One of these natural (and highly versatile) supplements is CBD oil.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a high-CBD extract sourced from cannabis plants.
CBD is one of the 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. When used in a concentrated form like CBD oil, this compound offers a number of health benefits.
Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive on its own. Hemp-derived CBD oils contain less than 0.3% THC — they can’t get you high and are legal in all 50 states. CBD oil from marijuana is totally different. These products contain significant concentrations of THC (5–20%) and produce psychoactive effects. Their legal status depends on local state laws.
In this article, I’ll focus on the hemp-derived CBD.
Can CBD Oil Relieve Fibromyalgia?
Humans are somewhat hardwired for cannabis. Each of us has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters is considered the prime system and the “bridge” between the nervous and immune systems. The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are located in both the brain and almost every part of the body.
This system regulates nearly every homeostatic function, including memory, mood, stress management, pain perception, immune function, cognitive processes, body temperature, and more.
In short, the main role of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain chemical balance in the body to prevent dysfunction and allow people to perform normally throughout the day.
CBD is a modulator of the endocannabinoid system, meaning it engages with cannabinoid receptors and boosts the system’s activity to improve our well being and help us alleviate different symptoms.
One way CBD can assist fibromyalgia patients is by reducing pain and stiffness — two of the key symptoms of fibromyalgia.
In the section below, I’ll cover the scientific evidence surrounding the analgesic effects of CBD and its impact on this chronic condition.
Research Overview of CBD & Fibromyalgia
The effectiveness of CBD in reducing pain is linked to its ability to interrupt pain signaling to the brain. Moreover, CBD acts on cannabinoid receptors to alter the way humans process pain.
Research from 2013 suggests that CBD may be an effective painkiller in various conditions that involve chronic pain, such as multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, migraines, and fibromyalgia.
CBD and other cannabinoids are also believed to be novel anti-inflammatory agents that help reduce swelling and heat caused by injuries or internal inflammation, which contributes to alleviating pain.
When it comes to the causes of fibromyalgia, recent studies indicate that the condition may largely depend on the function of microglia — a type of cell in the brain and spinal cord that triggers inflammation and amplify pain transmission when activated.
In a 2016 study published in the Swiss journal Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, researchers concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may derive from the modulation of CB2 receptors.
In addition to reducing pain and inflammation in the body, CBD has been shown to offer neuroprotective properties and stimulate the growth of new cells in the brain. This activity has been observed particularly in the hippocampal region which is responsible for the formation of memories and cognitive functioning. These effects may prove helpful for mood swings associated with the condition.
Fibromyalgia patients also experience sleeping difficulties. At high doses, CBD tends to induce sedation, not to mention it keeps the user longer in the deep sleep stage while not interfering with the REM stage, the one when we dream.
Sleep disturbances may be caused by other accompanying side effects of fibromyalgia, such as anxiety and depression. These two conditions are prevalent among fibromyalgia patients. In a 2017 human study, CBD administered at a dose of 300 milligrams caused a measurable drop in cortisol and anxiety levels.
However, none of the above studies were conducted specifically to examine the effects of CBD on fibromyalgia, so from the official standpoint, research is “inconclusive” at the time of this writing.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Take for Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
The FDA hasn’t approved the use of CBD for medical purposes other than treatment-resistant epilepsy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to the hemp-derived cannabidiol. The approved drug is called Epidiolex and it contains synthetic CBD.
Because of that, there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) or prescribed dosage of CBD oil for fibromyalgia.
The optimal dosage for an individual depends on their weight, metabolism, age, diet, genetics, as well as the seriousness of the condition and the potency of CBD oil.
General guidelines from experts suggest that those new to CBD should start at 1mg to 6mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight. As with any supplement, it’s best to start with a smaller dose and observe the effects for a few days — adjusting the dosage as needed.
Here’s a Handy CBD Dosage Chart for Pain Sufferers Based on Weight:
|Weight||< 25 lbs||26–45 lbs||46–85 lbs||86–150 lbs||151–240 lbs||> 241 lbs|
|Mild Pain||4.5 mg||6 mg||9 mg||12 mg||18 mg||22.5 mg|
|Moderate Pain||6 mg||9 mg||12 mg||15 mg||22.5 mg||30 mg|
|Severe Pain||9 mg||12 mg||15 mg||18 mg||27 mg||45 mg|
What the Experts Say
According to Dr. George Habib, the co-author of a 2018 retrospective review study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology examining medical cannabis as a treatment for fibromyalgia, cannabinoids offer new hope for fibromyalgia patients.
“In general, the impression (from the study) was that this type of medication is more effective than pregabalin and duloxetine,” Habib said.
Habib, who is a rheumatologist in Netanya, Israel, believes that despite the lack of larger randomized trials, the initial research is promising and that he would prefer trying medical cannabis for fibromyalgia soon after diagnosis, rather than considering it as a last resort when other treatment options fail.
However, Habib stresses that we need to dig deeper into the ratios of CBD to THC in CBD oil for fibromyalgia.
“A small fraction of our patients used oil, and mostly containing some THC, so only a very small number of patients used pure CBD oil,” he concluded.
Dr. Ginevra Liptan, who runs The Florida Center for Fibromyalgia and is the author of “The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide For You… And Your Doctor,” said that a large number of her patients experienced relief from symptoms such as pain, anxiety, insomnia, and muscle tension as a result of using full-spectrum CBD extracts.
She is a proponent of the entourage effect, a concept where all cannabinoids in the extract work synergistically to amplify the effects of one another.
“CBD oil on its own, without any other treatments, typically does not give strong analgesic effects,” she explained. “Successful pain relief without any additional prescription medications usually requires products that contain some amount of THC in addition to the CBD. I see much greater benefit from full-spectrum CBD oils, which contain other cannabinoids and sometimes trace amounts of THC, compared to the CBD isolates, which do not have the synergistic effects of the whole plant extract.”
Both experts also note that the effectiveness of CBD oil on fibromyalgia vary from patient to patient. Some notice significant pain relief, while others report only a mild improvement in pain management. Nevertheless, Liptan emphasizes that CBD oil is safer for pain relief than prescription medication although she doesn’t want to depict CBD oil as a cure for fibromyalgia.
Final Thoughts on CBD & Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and CBD oil alone won’t cure it. However, it may be effective in alleviating its most debilitating symptoms.
The effects of CBD oil on fibromyalgia depend on a number of individual factors and thus it may be difficult to find the optimal dosage right away. It’s best to start low and slow and monitor the effects, gradually increasing the dosage until you feel the difference in your symptoms.
CBD is more effective when combined with other cannabinoids and even trace levels of THC, which is why many people choose full-spectrum extracts over CBD isolate.
However, if you’re suffering from fibromyalgia, make sure to make an appointment with your doctor before incorporating CBD into your daily routine — especially if you’re already on some prescription medications, to avoid negative interactions.
- Borgelt, L.M., Franson, K.L., Nussbaum A.M., Wang, G.S. (2013). The Pharmacologic and Clinical Effects of Medical Cannabis. Pharmacotherapy, 33(2), 195–209.
- Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S.A., Hedge, V.L. & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as Novel Anti-inflammatory Drugs. Future Medical Chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349.
- Albrecht, D.S. et al. (2019). Brain Glial Activation in Fibromyalgia — A Multi-Site Positron Emission Tomography Investigation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 75, 72–83.
- Turcotte, C., Blanchet, M. R., Laviolette, M., & Flamand, N. (2016). the Cb2 Receptor and Its Role as a Regulator of Inflammation. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences: CMLS, 73(23), 4449–4470.
- Beale, C., Broyd, S. J., Chye, Y., Suo, C., Schira, M., Galettis, P., … Solowij, N. (2018). Prolonged Cannabidiol Treatment Effects on Hippocampal Subfield Volumes in Current Cannabis Users. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 94–107.
- Babson, K.A., Sottile, J. & Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19(4), 23.
- Chang, M.H. et al. (2015). Bidirectional Association Between Depression and Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Nationwide Longitudinal Study. The Journal of Pain: Official Journal of the American Pain Society, 16(9), 895–902.
- Zuardi, A.W. et al. (2017). Inverted U-Shaped Dose-Response Curve of the Anxiolytic Effects of Cannabidiol during Public Speaking in Real Life. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 259.
- Habib, G., Artul, S. (2018) Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology: Practical Reports on Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Diseases, 24(5), 255–258.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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How To Use CBD for Fibromyalgia
People suffering from fibromyalgia are finding that cannabis products containing CBD work for treating their symptoms, often with less negative side effects than prescription medications.
Before we look at the research into CBD for fibromyalgia, let’s take a step back and understand what fibromyalgia is.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease characterized by symptoms of chronic pain , insomnia , migraines , fatigue, joint pain, mood issues and symptoms of an irritable bowel. While we don’t know the cause(s) of fibromyalgia, it appears to be a sort of hypersensitivity condition where both painful and non-painful stimuli are perceived as pain.
People with fibromyalgia suffer from an increased sensitivity to pain.
This is thought to be caused by an abnormal functioning of pain signals in the central nervous system.
Commonly used treatments for fibromyalgia are pain relievers like NSAIDs and opioids, acupuncture, muscle relaxants, and sleep aids. Exercise therapy, relaxation techniques and stress-reduction techniques can also be helpful. Recently, the European League Against Rheumatism ( EULAR ) recommended against using NSAIDs.
Some patients are instead opting for CBD products to treat their fibromyalgia.
They are finding that CBD derived from hemp is safer and has fewer side effects than the prescription medications they were previously using.
How does CBD work for fibromyalgia?
While there are many theories about the underlying causes of fibromyalgia, one possibility is that fibromyalgia is one of the conditions caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Other theories are based in genetics, a history of physical or emotional abuse, hormonal disruptions and other conditions like anxiety and depression that may alter the perception of pain 1 , 2 .
The ECS is a naturally occurring regulatory pathway which plays a role in controlling major systems like the nervous system and the immune system. Overall, a healthy ECS controls sleep, appetite, memory, reproduction, mood and the perception of pain. An endocannabinoid deficiency/dysregulation occurs when a person has a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system, resulting from having abnormal levels of endocannabinoids.
If a person’s body doesn’t produce sufficient amounts or types of endocannabinoids, they may be more sensitive to pain.
Without a sufficient supply or type of endocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system cannot properly do its job of maintaining balance in the body — and thus it is believed that people with fibromyalgia experience more pain than what is usual.
CBD can potentially help support the endocannabinoid system: one way CBD may do this is by slowing down the body’s natural process of breaking down endocannabinoids 3 .
What are the effects of using CBD for fibromyalgia?
People using hemp-derived CBD for fibromyalgia are reporting the following benefits:
- Improved mood
- Pain relief
- Improved sleep
- Less inflammation
- Reduction or cessation of prescription medication and henceforth a decrease in negative side effects
What are the side effects of using CBD for fibromyalgia?
Generally, CBD has few side effects and is well tolerated. However, it can be sedating for some people, especially if it is used in high doses.
Some people have reported fatigue, upset stomach and diarrhea to be additional side effects.
Always start with a low dose of CBD and slowly work your way up.
It’s a good idea to take CBD the first few times in the comfort of your home, when you do not have to drive, in case you do experience some negative side effects.
How should I use CBD for fibromyalgia (What dosage should I use)?
People with fibromyalgia symptoms are finding the best delivery methods to be capsules or sublingual tinctures because of the speed of the effects from these methods—sublingual dosing is a bit faster. Vaping can be used, but you should know that there are potentially risks inhaling these compounds. We just don’t know.
Most CBD products come as either broad-spectrum (which contain no THC) or full-spectrum products, which contain ≤0.3% THC. CBD is non-intoxicating (non-psychoactive) while THC can be psychoactive. If you are concerned about either the legality or the intoxicating nature of a CBD product, it is best to stick with the broad-spectrum CBD products.
If you are completely new to using CBD, it’s always best to start with a low dose of broad-spectrum CBD product and increase the dose very slowly. 5 – 10 mg of CBD is usually the lowest dose—but if you use edibles like gummies, you can cut them in ¼’ s or ½ ‘s to start with.
Increase the CBD dosage as needed until you reach the desired effect.
Always speak with a doctor before using CBD, especially if you already take other medications. CBD can cause drug interactions.
What are terpenes and are terpenes useful for helping with fibromyalgia?
When CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, another very large class of plant substances—the terpenes—are extracted as well. Terpenes are currently a “hot research” topic because many have beneficial medicinal properties that may work alongside CBD in what is known as the “entourage effect”. The following terpenes are good to look for because they work synergistically with CBD to provide relief from inflammation 4 .
- β-caryophyllene (beta-caryophyllene)
- α-Pinene (alpha-pinene)
What does the research have to say about cannabinoids and fibromyalgia?
You should know that many of the clinical studies on CBD and fibromyalgia also used THC. This may be difficult and even illegal in some states that do not allow THC to be sold. If you live in a state where medical or “recreational” cannabis is not legal, your best bet may be to try CBD in a full-spectrum product—according to the 2018 Farm Bill , these products can legally contain ≤0.3% THC.
In a recent review on CBD in fibromyalgia, the authors stated “While the current evidence is still limited, emerging data do suggest a positive effect of cannabis in fibromyalgia. Cannabis use is not without risks, including psychiatric, cognitive, and developmental as well as the risks of addiction.
As such, clinical judgment is warranted to weigh these risks and prescribe to patients who are more likely to benefit from this treatment. Further research is required to define appropriate patient selection and treatment regimens 5 .”
Other studies have provided support for using cannabinoids for fibromyalgia, though often for pain relief, some THC was thought to be important 6 , 7 .
Recently, the Arthritis Foundation —which has an interest in fibromyalgia—released guidelines for the use of CBD in arthritis pain.
They state that “ We are intrigued by the potential of CBD to help people find pain relief and are on record urging the FDA to expedite the study and regulation of these products. While currently there is limited scientific evidence about CBD’s ability to help ease arthritis symptoms, and no universal quality standards or regulations exist, we have listened to our constituents and consulted with leading experts** to develop these general recommendations for adults who are interested in trying CBD 8 . ” The Arthritis Foundation has also urged the FDA to speed up the approval of CBD products for pain relief.