Do you suffer from fibromyalgia? If you do, you know it can be a debilitating disease. Although the cause is highly debated, and there are no standard treatments or cure, over 5 million people in the US suffer from fibromyalgia, and 90% of people diagnosed are women (1). The disease wasn’t even officially recognized until 1987 (2).
Fibromyalgia comes with an assault of symptoms, many of which can make everyday tasks, such as laundry or driving to the store, an enormous challenge. Symptoms include chronic pain, stiffness of joints, fatigue, nausea, sleeplessness, and depression (often attributed to the constant pain and limited mobility). Because fibromyalgia is so difficult to treat, doctors prescribe patients a candy store of medication, from opioids to antidepressants, which come with their own side effects.
Medical marijuana and CBD products are commonly used to treat chronic pain much like the kind that is associated with fibromyalgia. These products can also help with trouble sleeping and nausea. A survey by the National Pain Association found that over 30% of people reported using cannabis for pain management, and over 60% of those found that cannabis was more effective than prescription medication (3).
A few studies have looked at the prospect of marijuana being a treatment for some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and some of them have been promising, others need more data to be conclusive. A lot more research and clinical studies need to be conducted to really measure the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment option. But despite the lack of data, anecdotal evidence shows that a growing population of people who suffer from fibromyalgia is using cannabis to help ease their pain and make daily life more bearable.
So why would cannabis help with fibromyalgia? There is a theory that fibromyalgia is the result of a condition called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD). The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining harmony among the brain, connective tissue, organs, and other important body functions. When this system isn’t working properly, many symptoms that are experienced by fibromyalgia patients occur. Cannabinoids found in marijuana such as THC and CBD aid the endocannabinoid system by replacing what it might be lacking with CECD.
The verdict? If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, and your current medications are working very well to treat your fibromyalgia, you might consider trying medical marijuana in conjunction with your treatment and see if it works. Do not try to obtain marijuana illegally. Some patients have claimed they were able to stop taking most of their medications after using cannabis treatments.