Fibromyalgia: Treating with Medical Cannabis

Geovanny DuBuque
January 6, 2021

Fibromyalgia: Treating with Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis has been proven to help relieve and treat severe pain symptoms in various illnesses, including fibromyalgia.

Approximately 900,000 Canadians suffer from fibromyalgia. That's about 3 percent of the country's population.

Are you part of this group? Is fibromyalgia holding you back from living life on your terms?

If so, medical cannabis might be the right tool for you. Read on to learn more about medical cannabis and how it can help you find relief from your fibromyalgia symptoms.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common health conditions that affect the bones and muscles. It's characterized primarily by severe muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue. Other symptoms include the following:

  • Feelings of burning, twitching, or tightness
  • Painful, tender points
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering (sometimes referred to as "fibro fog")
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of nervousness or depression

Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes fibromyalgia. However, some suspect that it is caused by problems with the way the brain and spinal cord process pain signals.

Anyone can develop fibromyalgia. However, some people are more likely to deal with it than others, including those who fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Women
  • Those who have other painful diseases, such as arthritis
  • Those who have mental health disorders like anxiety or depression
  • Those who have been physically or emotionally abused
  • Those who have PTSD
  • Those who rarely exercise
  • Those who have a family history of fibromyalgia

It's hard for doctors to diagnose fibromyalgia. Typically, they do so by ruling out other health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, arthritis, and lupus.

Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Fibromyalgia

Some people who suffer from fibromyalgia turn to opioids to manage their symptoms. Opioids can provide pain relief, but they can also be habit-forming. They also come with a wide range of side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and respiratory issues.

For those who don't want to rely on opioids, as well as those for whom opioids are not effective, medical cannabis can be a better solution. The following are some of the primary benefits medical cannabis has to offer those struggling with fibromyalgia:

Pain Relief

Plenty of studies have shown that, in many cases, medical cannabis does a great job of relieving chronic pain, including pain caused by fibromyalgia.

One 2011 study, for example, followed 28 patients who used cannabis for their fibromyalgia symptoms. Of these participants, 43 percent experienced "strong pain relief." Another 43 percent experienced "mild pain relief." Only 7 percent saw no improvement at all.

There are two cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant that are especially beneficial when it comes to pain management: THC and CBD.

THC reduces pain by activating the CB1 receptors, which are mostly located in the brain and spinal cord. CBD, on the other hand, can help to increase levels of endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the body), like anandamide, which also activate the CB1 receptors.

CBD can also increase the activity of the brain's GABA (Gamma Amino-butyric Acid) receptors. This helps to reduce the intensity of pain signals when they reach the brain.

Better Sleep

A common challenge for folks with fibromyalgia is poor sleep. Many people with this condition struggle with insomnia, or they may have a hard time getting high-quality sleep.

The combination of poor sleep and chronic pain can create a vicious cycle. When you're in pain, it's hard to sleep well. When you don't sleep well, your pain gets worse.

Medical cannabis can do a great job of breaking this cycle. In fact, it may be better for sleep challenges than it is for pain.

In the same 2011 study mentioned above, 81 percent of participants said that fibromyalgia provided a significant amount of relief from their sleep issues. Even those who only experienced mild pain relief saw major improvements in their sleep quality when they used medical cannabis.

Better Mood

It's not uncommon for folks with fibromyalgia to also struggle with depression and anxiety. On the flip side, people with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges are also more likely than others to develop fibromyalgia.  

Many people report finding relief from their mental health struggles when they incorporated medical cannabis into their routine. This is especially true of strains of cannabis that contain high amounts of CBD.

CBD helps those with anxiety because it can reduce the physical sensations associated with stress, anxiety, and panic attacks (racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, etc.). It can improve sleep quality, too. Since poor sleep is linked to worsened mental health, it makes sense that CBD would be useful.

CBD can be helpful for depression because it increases the production of endocannabinoids. Suppressed endocannabinoid production can result in symptoms of depression (sadness, fatigue, chronic pain, etc.).

Decreased Risk of Complications

Fibromyalgia increases one's risk of developing all kinds of other chronic health conditions. For example, people who suffer from fibromyalgia are more prone to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Increased risk of these and other conditions has to do, in part, with a lack of physical activity. Regular exercise reduces one's chances of dealing with bone and joint problems as they age. If someone struggles with chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, though, it's understandable that they would be less active than their pain-free peers.

Medical cannabis can reduce pain and improve mood. When you're in less pain, feeling happier, and feeling more energized, all of this makes it easier for someone to be active on a regular basis.

How to Use Cannabis for Fibromyalgia Pain Management

Clearly, there are lots of benefits that medical cannabis can provide to fibromyalgia sufferers. The way you use medical cannabis for your fibromyalgia symptoms is very important, though.

Here are some tips that will help you see the best results:

Work with a Healthcare Professional

There is tons of information out there about medical cannabis and fibromyalgia. With so much to sift through, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. It's also easy to find information that isn't credible or isn't relevant to your situation.

To avoid running into these problems, work with a licensed healthcare professional. They will be able to make recommendations that apply to your condition and are more likely to be safe and effective for you.

Choose the Right Strain

Certain strains of medical cannabis are better for fibromyalgia management than others. The following are some of the most well-known strains you might want to consider using:

  • Sour Diesel: A high-THC strain associated with increased energy, improved mood, and potent pain relief
  • White Widow: A very relaxing cannabis strain associated with deep sleep and reduced anxiety
  • Blueberry: A high-THC and high-CBD strain that promotes relaxation and calmness without being too sedating
  • Northern Lights: Another relaxing, sleep-inducing strain
  • Cannatonic: A high-CBD strain that's good for beginners and very popular among people with fibromyalgia

If you're not sure which cannabis strain to choose, start by thinking about your goals and specific symptoms.

For example, if you struggle with poor sleep, you might be better off picking a strain that is known for being very relaxing and sleep-inducing. On the other hand, if you're in need of mood-boosting in addition to pain relief, a high-THC strain that produces euphoric effects might be a better fit.

Choose the Right Delivery Method

There are lots of different ways that you can consume medical cannabis. The following are some common delivery methods:

  • Smoking
  • Vaping
  • Edibles
  • Topicals

Smoking and vaping are two of the most popular options. They're great for folks with fibromyalgia because they act very quickly.

Most people notice results from smoking or vaping within just a few minutes. That means you can find relief right away.

On the flip side, some people find that smoking and vaping are too harsh. They're also not very discrete. If you prefer a subtler method of consuming cannabis, edibles and topics are good alternatives.

Edibles can produce a more potent high than cannabis that's smoked or vaped. However, it takes longer for edibles to take effect since the cannabinoids have to travel through the digestive system before they enter the bloodstream.

Topical cannabis products, such as balms or lotions, can provide localized relief to specific areas. They're discrete and easy to use, but some people don't find them to be as effective as other delivery methods.

Use High-Quality Medical Cannabis

Finally, make sure you're only using high-quality medical cannabis. To see the best results and to avoid negative reactions, only buy cannabis products from credible, trusted sellers.

Do your research and read reviews to ensure you're getting the right kind of cannabis for your condition. When you work with a medical professional, they can point you in the right direction and make recommendations for reputable dispensaries.

Find Relief from Fibromyalgia Today

As you can see, medical cannabis can be a useful tool for folks who are struggling with fibromyalgia.

Are you tired of pressure pain, fatigue, and other symptoms of fibromyalgia? If so, it's time to experience the benefits of medical cannabis from the comfort of your own home.

Start shopping for high-quality cannabis from licensed sellers like CannMart, which delivers straight to your door, today. To get started, create an account and schedule a consultation with a nurse practitioner from NamasteMD.