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CBD for Fibromyalgia

If you’re living with fibromyalgia, you know all too well what a life of pain and chronic fatigue can be. You also know how misunderstood your condition truly is, and you’ve encountered doctor after doctor who has either treated you like you were making your symptoms up or has struggled to find a treatment that might help you.

 

So, of course, you’ve considered trying CBD for fibromyalgia in the hopes that it might provide the relief you so deserve.

What is fibromyalgia?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fibromyalgia is a common pain disorder impacting an estimated 5 million adults in America. Between 80 and 90 percent of patients with fibromyalgia are adult women, though there are select men and children with the condition as well 1 Fibromyalgia: In Depth. (2021). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved 1 February 2021, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/fibromyalgia-in-depth .

People with fibromyalgia can suffer from a long list of debilitating symptoms, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cognitive issues
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Extremity numbness and tingling
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes, loud noises, and bright lights

The exact cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown, though researchers believe there is likely a combination of factors at play 2 InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is known about the causes of fibromyalgia? 2018 Mar 8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK492983/ . These potential factors include:

  • Disfunction in the processing of pain signals in the brain
  • Genetics
  • Psychological distress
  • Childhood abuse or trauma

Diagnosing fibromyalgia has proven to be as confounding as identifying a precise cause. In fact, a 2019 study of 497 patients total, 121 of whom met the criteria for a fibromyalgia diagnosis, found that 43 patients who did not meet the criteria were identified as being criteria positive, while 60 patients who did meet the criteria weren’t identified at all 3 Wolfe, F., Schmukler, J., Jamal, S., Castrejon, I., Gibson, K. A., Srinivasan, S., Häuser, W., & Pincus, T. (2019). Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia: Disagreement Between Fibromyalgia Criteria and Clinician-Based Fibromyalgia Diagnosis in a University Clinic. Arthritis care & research, 71(3), 343–351. .

Diagnostic criteria has changed over time, since the first diagnostic model in 1990 that required 11 out of 18 tender points to produce pain upon pressure. Today, fibromyalgia is recognized as more of a spectrum condition. Current diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia includes:

  • Experiencing pain on both sides of the body, above and below the waist, for at least three months
  • The exclusion of other possible causes, including rheumatic diseases, mental health problems, and neurological disorders

Because fibromyalgia is often a diagnosis of exclusion, blood tests are taken alongside a complete physical and neurological exam 4 Galvez-Sánchez, C. M., & Reyes Del Paso, G. A. (2020). Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia: Critical Review and Future Perspectives. Journal of clinical medicine, 9(4), 1219. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041219 .

Given how misdiagnosed and misunderstood fibromyalgia remains, it should come as no surprise that treating the condition is also often difficult. To date, no cure for fibromyalgia exists, and most treatment protocols are multidisciplinary, relying on patients to partner in the self-management of their care. Treatment often involves non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches 5 Kwiatek R. (2017). Treatment of fibromyalgia. Australian prescriber, 40(5), 179–183. https://doi.org/10.18773/austprescr.2017.056 .

Non-pharmacological therapies might include education on managing the disease and help developing coping skills, as the chronic nature of the condition often lingers. Exercise and physical therapy are also routinely prescribed 5 Kwiatek R. (2017). Treatment of fibromyalgia. Australian prescriber, 40(5), 179–183. https://doi.org/10.18773/austprescr.2017.056 .

Drug therapy is usually seen as providing a supportive role in symptom management and may include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Tramadol

Every patient’s treatment protocol is different, and most treatments are only partially successful in helping to manage the symptoms associated with the condition 6 Macfarlane, G. J., Kronisch, C., Dean, L. E., Atzeni, F., Häuser, W., Fluß, E., Choy, E., Kosek, E., Amris, K., Branco, J., Dincer, F., Leino-Arjas, P., Longley, K., McCarthy, G. M., Makri, S., Perrot, S., Sarzi-Puttini, P., Taylor, A., & Jones, G. T. (2017). EULAR revised recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 76(2), 318–328. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-209724 .

CBD for fibromyalgia—what does the research say?

Two very recent studies have identified the potential benefits of medical cannabis in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

The first, published in 2019, looked into the safety and efficacy of using cannabis to treat fibromyalgia. Over the course of two years, 367 fibromyalgia patients initiated treatment with medical cannabis (including THC) and completed questionnaires throughout their treatment. During the study period, patients reported an overall reduction in pain intensity on a scale of 0-10 from a median of 9.0 to 5.0. Overall, comfort level with cannabis treatment was associated with this treatment outcome 7 Sagy, I., Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Abu-Shakra, M., & Novack, V. (2019). Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(6), 807. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8060807 .

The second study was published in 2020. This one started with 102 fibromyalgia patients who were considered stable in treatment (including receiving central sedatives and opioids) but who hadn’t yet found relief. Study participants were prescribed two cannabis extracts, both with THC and CBD. At the end of the study period, 47 percent of patients had found enough relief to either reduce or altogether quit their painkiller prescriptions. Over a third of patients also reported achieving better sleep as well as a reduction in anxiety, depression, and pain 8 Giorgi, V., Bongiovanni, S., Atzeni, F., Marotto, D., Salaffi, F., & Sarzi-Puttini, P. (2020). Adding medical cannabis to standard analgesic treatment for fibromyalgia: a prospective observational study. Clinical and experimental rheumatology, 38 Suppl 123(1), 53–59. .

Unfortunately, both of these studies involved the use of both THC and CBD. To date, there is no research into the potential benefits of just CBD in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

That doesn’t mean there is no reason to believe CBD for fibromyalgia could work, however. In fact, several studies that suggest CBD could prove beneficial in the treatment of many of the most bothersome symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

For example, research has found CBD to be effective in managing and treating difficult to treat pain. Researchers believe this is because of the way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and the pain receptors located throughout that system 9 Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928 .

More recent research has shown that CBD can also prove beneficial in treating anxiety and sleep disorders, both of which often plague fibromyalgia patients 10 Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041 .

And perhaps most importantly, CBD has a relatively high safety profile— certainly higher than most of the drugs typically prescribed to treat fibromyalgia 11 Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090 . Which makes this cannabinoid worth at least giving a shot for patients who feel as though they have tried everything else and are still struggling to find relief.

Ready to use CBD for fibromyalgia?

There are so many options available to you if you’ve decided you want to give CBD for fibromyalgia a try. Today you can find yummy edibles like gummies or mints to help with easy dosing and ingestion, or you could try CBD oil for fibromyalgia. CBD oils can easily be added to food or taken sublingually under the tongue for a quicker impact.

TheraOne is a CBD brand that has been created specifically for athletes looking to reduce pain after injury. Fibromyalgia patients may find similar relief from these products, including a full-spectrum CBD oil and topical options to choose from.

Note: full-spectrum products may contain trace amounts of THC. For patients who do not want to receive any THC, broad-spectrum and isolate products are the better choice.

Another topical option worth considering is Myaderm, a line of transdermal products created specifically to reduce pain.

And if sleep and anxiety are chief among your fibromyalgia concerns, you may want to try something from the Penguin CBD line. They offer oils, gels, capsules, edibles, and creams, many of which are formulated to help with these exact issues.

Figuring out the right CBD for fibromyalgia dosage will depend a lot on the type of product you choose and your individual height, weight, gender and needs. We’ve got a CBD dosage chart to help you get started, but in general, you’ll want to start low and slow and work your way up until you experience the relief you are looking for.

Because fibromyalgia patients are often taking several other medications to help treat their symptoms, it is important to communicate with your doctor before adding CBD to that regimen. While CBD is considered relatively safe and doesn’t interact with most drugs, your doctor still needs to be in the loop in case of possible interactions now or somewhere down the line. Your experience could also help them inform other patients they are treating for fibromyalgia in the future.

FAQs

How do I use CBD oil for fibromyalgia?

CBD oil for fibromyalgia could be ingested orally or applied topically—the choice is yours. For ingesting CBD oil, simply add it to food or water, or take your drops on or under the tongue. For topical application, you could add your drops to a lotion or cream and rub the CBD oil into the area you feel the most pain.

What CBD dosage should I use for fibromyalgia?

The right CBD dosage varies greatly depending on a variety of factors. We recommend using our CBD dosage chart as a starting point and then increasing your dosage slowly until you achieve the desired results.

What’s the best way to take CBD for fibromyalgia?

Because there are still no studies into the benefits of CBD for fibromyalgia, no one can definitively say what the best way to take CBD for fibromyalgia is. Given that, you could try oral and topical treatments, either separately or together, to determine which option works best for you.

Sources
  1. Fibromyalgia: In Depth. (2021). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved 1 February 2021, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/fibromyalgia-in-depth
  2. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is known about the causes of fibromyalgia? 2018 Mar 8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK492983/
  3. Wolfe, F., Schmukler, J., Jamal, S., Castrejon, I., Gibson, K. A., Srinivasan, S., Häuser, W., & Pincus, T. (2019). Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia: Disagreement Between Fibromyalgia Criteria and Clinician-Based Fibromyalgia Diagnosis in a University Clinic. Arthritis care & research, 71(3), 343–351.
  4. Galvez-Sánchez, C. M., & Reyes Del Paso, G. A. (2020). Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia: Critical Review and Future Perspectives. Journal of clinical medicine, 9(4), 1219. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041219
  5. Kwiatek R. (2017). Treatment of fibromyalgia. Australian prescriber, 40(5), 179–183. https://doi.org/10.18773/austprescr.2017.056
  6. Macfarlane, G. J., Kronisch, C., Dean, L. E., Atzeni, F., Häuser, W., Fluß, E., Choy, E., Kosek, E., Amris, K., Branco, J., Dincer, F., Leino-Arjas, P., Longley, K., McCarthy, G. M., Makri, S., Perrot, S., Sarzi-Puttini, P., Taylor, A., & Jones, G. T. (2017). EULAR revised recommendations for the management of fibromyalgia. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 76(2), 318–328. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-209724
  7. Sagy, I., Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Abu-Shakra, M., & Novack, V. (2019). Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(6), 807. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8060807
  8. Giorgi, V., Bongiovanni, S., Atzeni, F., Marotto, D., Salaffi, F., & Sarzi-Puttini, P. (2020). Adding medical cannabis to standard analgesic treatment for fibromyalgia: a prospective observational study. Clinical and experimental rheumatology, 38 Suppl 123(1), 53–59.
  9. Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928
  10. Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
  11. Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090

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