How Can Cannabis Help With Fibromyalgia?
What is Fibromyalgia?
Widespread musculoskeletal pain is the main characteristic of fibromyalgia but is also paired with issues related to memory, mood, fatigue and sleep. Pain is considered widespread when it occurs above and below the waist. Fibromyalgia pain is described as having lasted for at least three months.
Fibromyalgia patients often struggle with other related conditions like migraines, headaches, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety, painful bladder syndrome and temporomandibular joint disorders.
People who are at risk of having fibromyalgia are:
- Those who have a family history
- Those who have other disorders like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
- Women are more likely than men to have fibromyalgia.
- Age, as your likelihood increases as you get older.
There are a few known causes of fibromyalgia. These include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Physical or emotional trauma
- Certain infections
These factors alter the brains and spinal cords of people who suffer from fibromyalgia. Chemicals that signal pain are increased due to these changes. Pain receptors in the brain also change, making them more sensitive to signals, both painful and non painful.
How is Fibromyalgia Usually Treated?
Fibromyalgia treatment consists of both medication and self-care. The aim of these treatments is to manage symptoms and improve health. Treatments are used in conjunction with each other for the best effect.
Medications are taken to help with pain and sleep issues. Types of medications used are painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-seizures drugs.
- Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen sodium may offer some relief from pain.
- Antidepressants like Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) are prescribed for pain and fatigue. Amitriptyline is another medication to help with pain.
- Muscle relaxers may be used to sleep.
- Epilepsy medications may help with fibromyalgia pain like gabapentin.
Certain therapies help with fibromyalgia, such as physical and occupational therapy as well as counseling for stress management. Stress management by itself is important and is one of many lifestyle changes that fibromyalgia patients make. Other lifestyle changes include:
- Getting regular exercise
- Living a healthy lifestyle
- Practicing good sleep habits.
Complications with Fibromyalgia Medication
Medication may be the best answer for some people, while others struggle to find what is right for them. Medications come with side effects and make treatment difficult for patients. Side-effects from fibromyalgia medications include, dizziness, nausea, drowziness, drymouth, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, high blood pressure, swelling, suicidal thoughts.
Side-effects may cause patients to seek out alternative options for their treatment. Additionally, there may not be a traditional medication that works for some people. This is where cannabis as an alternative treatment can come into play.
Cannabis as an Alternative Fibromyalgia Treatment
For those who struggle with the complications of traditional fibromyalgia medication, cannabis could be the best option for finding relief.
Studies have shown the efficacy of products with THC and/or CBD. For example, a University of Michigan study found that more than 70% of people replaced opiates with CBD out of 878 fibromyalgia patients. These individuals were lowering the number of opiates they took or eliminating them. Another important point is that of those patients, those who used products containing both CBD and THC had greater relief from their pain.
THC is an important part of addressing fibromyalgia pain. A 2018 study showed that patients given a formula containing only CBD did not have a significant change in pain.
In addition to helping with pain relief, cannabis products can also help with sleep issues related to fibromyalgia. Cannabinoid therapy can also help with a wide variety of issues including regulating mood and reducing anxiety.
When looking at how cannabis can help those with fibromyalgia, it is important to highlight endocannabinoid deficiency. If you have not heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), it is the system in our body that processes cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the active components of hemp, CBD and THC are examples. There are endocannabinoid receptors all throughout the body. The ECS plays a part in many processes and body functions such as:
- Reproduction and fertility
Using cannabis/cannabinoids helps our body’s endocannabinoid system, although the ECS is still active whether or not someone uses cannabis products.
Fibromyalgia along with related issues like IBS and migraines have been shown to be related to a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system. Research suggests that these issues benefit from supplementing our body’s endocannabinoids. If a fibromyalgia patient's body is operating in a state of deficiency, then they need to supplement it. Patients may see more benefits from supplementing cannabinoids as opposed to just using medication.
Choosing a Product
A wide variety of products exist containing CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. Finding the right product for you may take some experimentation, but we are here to help along the way. As stated previously, fibromyalgia patients see the most benefit out of products that do contain THC. If you are at risk of being drug tested or not ready to try THC, there are THC-free options available to you.
- CBD Isolates are products containing just cbd only.
- Broadspectrum products contain other cannabinoids in addition to CBD, but the THC is taken out.
- Full Spectrum products, also known as “full plant” products, do contain a trace amount of THC in them.
For those who use THC or would like to try it, we have products containing hemp-derived versions of THC. The most prominent version of hemp derived THC is called Delta 8. For more information on these THC analogs, check out our page on The Deltas.
A few of our most popular THC products are:
- Delta 8 THC Vegan Gummies: with a variety of strengths and flavors to pick from, most customers can find a version that works for their pain and relaxation.
- Delta 8 THC Cartridge: used for vaping has a quick onset for fast relief.
No matter what products are chosen, consistency is key. We aim to educate our customers and work along with them. If you would like to see how cannabinoid therapy can help you with fibromyalgia or related issues, investigate our products online or come in store for a consultation.
My name is Amber. I am a cannabinoid consultant and columnist for Happy Trails. I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I enjoy learning about things I have passion for, and my family lovingly calls me a “human encyclopedia”. Read more about Amber here.
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