Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes muscle pain, resulting in fatigue, mood swings, sleep issues and tender points in the body. Symptoms are not always present, and can fluctuate over time. A medical treatment plan can help to avoid symptom flare up, or flares; however, there is currently no cure for this condition.
Because of this, many people have turned to alternative solutions to feel better, one of those being cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is a chemical compound made from the hemp plant, but does not include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known psychoactive component of the marijuana plant. In other words, CBD will not give you a euphoric, or “high” feeling when consumed.
Before we dive into CBD and pain treatment, it is important to note that there is not much medical literature that backs the efficacy of using it for pain. This is primarily because the research has not yet been conducted. That being said, a lack of research does not necessarily mean that the drug does not show promise in helping people. Rather, more research needs to be done. If you’re considering using CBD, learn as much as you can beforehand, and consult with your doctor, who knows more about your individual condition and treatment plan, before getting started.
As of the date of writing this post, CBD is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a regulated treatment option. Even so, it’s gaining more popularity among the general public and medical community alike.
“Ultimately there is a role for CBD in a variety of conditions,” said Carrie Diulus, M.D., an orthopaedic spine surgeon in Ohio who was featured in the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2. “It decreases anxiety, is anti-inflammatory, and can help with sleep. It does also have some positive impact on pain. Some of it may be for the reasons I listed above. It doesn’t have the psychotropic effects of THC, and it is legal (for now). The tricky part is that we don’t have robust studies fully clarifying dose, interactions, and contraindications. I do have patients who anecdotally find that it is helpful when used topically for arthritis and orally (spray) for pain. I think often it is beneficial because it helps with sleep and anxiety, which both can be an issue with both acute and chronic pain. I have other patients who have no response.”
CBD for Pain Treatment
It is believed that CBD may activate serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that regulates anxiety, happiness and mood. It may also play a role in pain perception, maintaining body temperature and reducing inflammation. Because of these properties, CBD has been used for pain treatment, and has even been considered as an alternative to opioid medications.
With opioids causing issues with addiction and dependence, not to mention the litany of negative side effects that come along with taking them, the thought of an alternative solution for pain is certainly worth exploring.
While there isn’t an overwhelming amount of research backing the drug, there are positive studies out there that show promise. A study conducted in 2009 found that CBD helped to relieve neuropathic, or nerve pain. In other studies, researchers have found CBD to help alleviate feelings of pain, making it seem like a promising drug for those who suffer from chronic pain.
Is CBD Legal?
The answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as we would like it to be. That being said, we will do our best to arm you with the best information so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Technically, CBD is legal in all 50 states. However, there are some situations in which it may be considered to be illegal. One factor impacting legality is whether or not the CBD was derived from a hemp plant or a marijuana plant (which contains THC). Marijuana-derived THC is legal in some states, but not in others. If you’re unsure about your state, check your local legislation. The lines for hemp-derived CBD are also blurry when it comes to legality. Again, check your state’s laws, and look out for where the CBD product is derived from to help you determine whether or not it is legal in your area.
How do I take CBD?
CBD can be consumed in many different ways: vaporizers, oil and even water. Below is a list of the main ways it is consumed:
- Smoking or vaping: Inhaling the CBD allows the chemical to absorb into your bloodstream and lungs. That being said, smoking anything is not good for your lungs, so please consider your lung health if you are thinking about this option.
- Edibles: Edibles are foods that are cooked with the CBD plant or with CBD-infused oil or butter. The effects typically take some time to kick in, but can last several hours once they do.
- Topicals: Topical creams and balms can be rubbed onto your skin to help alleviate external pain or inflammation.
- Oil extracts: These can be taken orally or applied topically.
- Water: Many companies have infused water with CBD, allowing consumers to stay hydrated while consuming the product.
Side effects of CBD
Before trying CBD products, it’s important to note the potential side effects, and of course, you should always speak with your doctor before trying any new treatment plan.
While side effects are different for everyone, these are some the most common:
- Dry mouth
- Slowed digestion
- Low blood pressure
In the end, there is more research that needs to be done to tell whether or not CBD may be a beneficial form of treatment for fibromyalgia patients. If you have tried CBD oil to help with your fibromyalgia symptoms, comment below to share your experience with our other readers.