CBD OIL FOR FIBROMYALGIA - DOES IT HELP?
There is promising evidence that CBD could help with Fibromyalgia symptoms and increases the effectiveness of opioid-based painkillers, potentially allowing a reduction in the opioid dose to encourage fewer side effects from chronic opioid use. CBD itself can reduce the perception of pain associated with Fibromyalgia and has been found to aid sleep in many studies. Additional evidence indicates CBD can help anxiety, depression and muscle spasm associated with Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood illness, but for millions of people around the world this disease that causes constant pain affects every part of their lives. From sleeping to mental health, fibromyalgia can cause issues that can’t be cured.
However, there are ways to help with the symptoms. Over the counter pills and the stronger opioid based pain medication is normally used to let those with fibromyalgia live a normal life. Recently though scientists have been exploring if CBD oil for fibromyalgia is viable, and have found promising evidence.
Today then we are going to look into the science to see if CBD oil can help people with fibromyalgia.
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Before we can look into how CBD helps for fibromyalgia though we need to cover the basics of the condition and current medical treatments.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition, meaning it causes constant pain. The reasons why this happens isn’t understood at the moment, though most scientists lean towards a neurological disorder.
Someone with fibromyalgia feels pain all through their body, including their muscles and bones. Along with the pain many feel a deep fatigue most of the time. Other fibromyalgia symptoms include:
- Low pain threshold
- Muscle tightness or spasms
- Headaches or general aching
- irritable bowel syndrome
Fibromyalgia seems to affect women more than men, and as of yet there is no cure for it. However some lifestyle changes and self-care techniques can help, and may go a long way to alleviate symptoms of the condition.
Changes to diet, moderate exercise and methods to relieve stress (like medication, yoga etc.) all can help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
For insomnia a strict sleep schedule can help, avoiding the common issues like screens in the bedroom.
For the mild cases over the counter pain medication can help, but for most who suffer with fibromyalgia more aggressive medication is prescribed. Although there is a push for healthcare professionals to reduce opioid based pain killers, for those with fibromyalgia they can be one of the few medications that will work.
HOW DOES CBD OIL HELP TREAT FIBROMYALGIA?
Cannabidiol CBD might be able to help, though how is a bit complicated. It is all to do with something in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and how CBD oil interacts with it. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it, as the endocannabinoid system has only really been discovered in the last 20 years.
Despite the fact that we only just discovered it, the endocannabinoid system seems to be a vital part of our bodies as the major way cells talk to each other and the brain.
The ECS is a huge collection of cell receptors that stretches from our brain to our immune system and all through our bodies, and seems to be a part of the way our bodies control and transmit pain, inflammation and more. The ECS works by chemicals called endocannabinoids (which are naturally made in our bodies) carrying information from one cell receptor to another.
CBD oil is uniquely qualified to help with the ECS and the receptors as it seems to be one of the few chemicals that interacts with the ECS, giving it a boost. One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in pain relief and inflammation.
One 2016 study suggests that a lack of endocannabinoids may be one of the main reasons for chronic pain syndromes, like migraines and fibromyalgia.
WHAT DO THE STUDIES SAY?
As of yet much about CBD's action on the body is unknown as research on this has only really been happening in the last few years. However there are a few studies that show promising results.
One of the first studies that looked at CBD and its effect on neurological caused pain was back in 2009. This review found that CBD can be used to help relieve neuropathic pain. The study actually looked at medical marijuana as the agent to help, though in the study they do mention that CBD is the leading chemical which is helping.
Another interesting point the study made is that CBD is extremely helpful with other painkillers, especially opioid based ones. In the study they claim that CBD reacts “synergistically with opioids and act as opioid sparing agents, allowing lower doses and fewer side effects from chronic opioid therapy.”
A more recent 2018 research review showed that CBD does seem to help with pain as well, though it does stress that larger, more longer term studies are needed. However the study goes out of it’s way to show the secondary impacts of CBD saying that CBD “may improve secondary measures such as sleep, quality of life and patient satisfaction”
Another study a year later also talked about the positive effect of CBD on sleep and quality of life, as well as helping those with long term issues like anxiety. The 2019 study looked into the positive effects of CBD for those who suffer with neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety, and depression. It found that not only did CBD seem to help calm and relax people, but helped them sleep as well.
This is echoed in another study which focused on depression. The research review found that using CBD may help with conditions like depression, which occurs in people with fibromyalgia frequently.
All these studies were on the general use of CBD to help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but there have been a few studies on CBD for fibromyalgia specifically.
In 2019 an Israeli study was conducted on hundreds of people with fibromyalgia. They were observed over a period of at least 6 months to see if CBD could help.
Everyone involved started with a low dosage (though the exact amount depended on the person), with the dosage gradually increasing over the 6 months of the study. Roughly though the participants had about 670 mg a day at the beginning. After 6 months, the average dosage had risen to 1,000 mg a day.
When the study started, 52% of participants described their pain level as high. At the 6-month follow-up, only 8% of those who responded reported high levels of pain.
However the study wasn’t perfect, with the researchers admitting that the study had limitations as not all those who participated reported back, and the CBD used was mainly from medical cannabis, which brings its own issues.
However, with 70% of participants reporting back, and almost all of them saying that the pain levels had gone down significantly, the scientists still concluded that cannabis and the CBD inside were a useful treatment for fibromyalgia.
This is backed up by a 2020 review on the available evidence around CBD and fibromyalgia, and builds on what the Israeli study found. They repeated what was said before in other studies, that although more studies are needed, “data suggests a positive effect of CBD in helping with fibromyalgia.”
Lastly, while this isn’t a scientific study, a survey from 2021 of those with, or people who work with, fibromyalgia found that most of those who use CBD said that it helped improve their symptoms.
WHAT SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA DOES CBD OIL HELP TREAT?
As all these studies say, CBD oil doesn’t cure or fix fibromyalgia, but it can help with the major symptoms of the disease.
As all the studies above show, CBD can be a real help in helping to mitigate and manage the pain. Not only can it be a mild painkiller in its own right, but it works with other painkillers to help.
CBD seems to be able to help the body regulate itself better and stop the white blood cells in your body from overreacting and causing inflammation.
Help with Sleep
Lack of sleep might seem to be less important than the pain and inflammation, but anyone who hasn’t been able to sleep for days on end will quickly tell you differently!
There is evidence that CBD oil and edibles can help improve sleep quality and duration, but like pain and inflammation CBD helps (through the endocannabinoid system) to relax and rebalance your brain, helping you sleep.
Lastly is how CBD can help with how you feel. We wrote about the positive effect of CBD on the mind before, but CBD can help with the brain’s ability to produce dopamine. Dopamine, to simplify the chemical massively, is the “happy hormone”. When there is an imbalance of dopamine it can kick off a whole host of problems.
CBD is able to regulate the levels and release of dopamine, helping you to achieve balance and help you brain communicate.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TYPES OF CBD OILS FOR FIBROMYALGIA?
CBD comes in various forms, with each offering something slightly different. All forms of CBD oil though will have the chemical CBD in, but what else is included is where the difference lies. This comes down to how the CBD oil is made, with different methods of extracting the CBD from the cannabis plant creating different types of CBD oil.
The three main types of CBD oils out there though are:
Full-Spectrum CBD Oil - This means that almost all the cannabis plant is included in the CBD oil. However that does mean that some THC (the psychoactive element of cannabis and reason it is used to “get high”) will be in the oil.
Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil - This removal method leaves almost all the cannabis plant compounds in the oil, except the THC.
Isolate CBD Oil - Isolate is exactly what it sounds like, a removal method that isolates the CBD and strips away everything else. This means that there is no tetrahydrocannabinol THC, but also no other compounds from the cannabis plant that can help.
If you notice in studies we talked about earlier, many of them were performed with cannabis the plant, rather than just CBD itself. Partly that is down to CBD oil being very new, but it is also because scientists aren’t sure yet what the role other compounds in cannabis play. They know that the CBD is the main chemical, but as of yet aren’t sure how the other chemicals in cannabis contribute to its positive effects.
This is called the entourage effect, meaning that the other terpenes and cannabinoids might help with all the great things CBD can do.
In our opinion, broad spectrum offers the most help, as you not only get the CBD but all the other cannabinoids and terpenes that can help, without the risk of THC.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE USING CBD OIL TO TREAT FIBROMYALGIA
In this article we have talked a lot about all the benefits of CBD for the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but it’s important to note that each person is different. From the medication each person takes, to physical makeup, each of us will react differently.
That’s why it is extremely important to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional before taking CBD. They will know much more about how CBD will probably affect you, and if it is right for you.
The biggest example of this is that CBD can react with certain medication badly. Otherwise known as the “grapefruit warning” CBD reacts with medication the same way grapefruit does, meaning that CBD shouldn’t be used for those who use certain blood pressure or cholesterol medication.
CBD OIL FOR FIBROMYALGIA - DOES IT HELP? CONCLUSION
While it is still early days yet on the study of CBD, from the information we have CBD oil seems to really help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
By interacting with the ECS, CBD oil seems to help with the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia like the pain caused and the inflammation.
But CBD oil can also help with the mental symptoms as well, with studies suggesting that it can help with regulating sleep and your mood.
If you want to give CBD oil a try (and have run it past a medical professional) then we have a wide range of flavours and strengths for you to try!
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