CBD and Fibromyalgia
Updated: Mar 4
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue, sleep problems, and mental or emotional distress. Patients with fibromyalgia often experience abnormal pain perception processing, which is a sensitivity to pain. It affects an estimated 1 in 20 people, the majority whom are women. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms often begin after an event, such as physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Widespread pain: The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Cognitive difficulties: A symptom commonly referred to as "fibro fog" impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other conditions, such as:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Migraine and other types of headaches
Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
Temporomandibular joint disorders
Postural tachycardia syndrome
The cause for fibromyalgia is not known, but with the result of research over time has resulted in effective treatments that can help manage its impact.
How does CBD work for fibromyalgia?
Researchers cannot decisively say why the compound appears to reduce some fibromyalgia symptoms, or why it works for some people and not others. However, numerous studies have produced positive results.
The pain relieving effects of CBD are likely down to its effects on the brain. It may interrupt the nerve pathways that send signals of pain between the brain and the rest of the body.
CBD and other cannabinoids attach to specialized receptors in your brain. One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in managing pain and inflammation.
When CBD enters the body, it may attach to the CB2 receptor, or it may cause the body to produce natural cannabinoids (endocannabinoid's) that attach to these receptors. This may then result in reduced pain and inflammation.
A 2020 review concludes that the emerging data suggest that cannabis can have a positive effect on fibromyalgia. The researchers also say, however, that the current evidence is still limited.
A 2019 randomized study looks at the effects of Bediol, a drug that contains both CBD and THC, in people with fibromyalgia. It suggests that more people who took Bediol reported a 30% decrease in pain scores compared with those who took a placebo.
A 2017 study concludes that CBD might counteract the hypersensitivity of cells surrounding nerves in people with chronic pain, including those with fibromyalgia. However, it also points to the need for more research in this area.
A 2015 review analyzes existing research into cannabinoid usage for chronic pain, though not specifically pain linked to fibromyalgia. Seven of the 11 studies included in the review suggest that CBD relieves pain.
A different 2015 review looks at the results of 28 randomized, clinically controlled trials of medical cannabis as a treatment for pain. Many of the trials focused on pain linked to multiple sclerosis. The review suggests that high quality evidence supports the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain in some contexts.
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