Can cannabis act as a natural remedy for fibromyalgia pain?
Cannabis is popularly termed a recreational drug. However, it has been used for its medicinal benefit for centuries. Anecdotal evidence and some medical studies have proven that cannabis might act as a natural remedy for fibromyalgia pain in its various forms.
The use or possession of cannabis – also called marijuana – is completely illegal in some states across the United States. However, it does contain hundreds of ingredients that can be used to treat various ailments. This promise has given rise to the use of cannabis as a medical drug. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most popular cannabis ingredients when considering its medicinal properties.
Let’s explore the use of cannabis or medical marijuana as a natural medicine for fibromyalgia pain and its associated symptoms. But first, let’s discuss what fibromyalgia is.
You may also wonder, “where is fibromyalgia pain in the body?” We’ll discuss that too.
What Is Fibromyalgia Pain?
Fibromyalgia is a nervous disorder. It presents itself with pervasive musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, memory loss, mood swings, and constant fatigue. Medical experts believe the condition affects the way your brain handles pain.
By altering this process, the feeling of pain is amplified in patients dealing with fibromyalgia.
Individuals dealing with this disorder usually begin to experience its symptoms after experiencing severe physical trauma, a life-altering event that triggers extreme psychological stress, surgery, or an infection. In some instances, the symptoms slowly accrue over time without any actual triggering event.
Women are also more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men. When dealing with the disorder, they also experience irritable bowels, anxiety, flash or tension headaches, depression, and temporomandibular (TMJ) conditions.
While there are no proven cures for fibromyalgia, various natural remedies and medications help manage or treat the symptoms. One of these remedies is cannabis. Regular exercise and a deliberate approach to stress-reduction can also help.
Medical Marijuana and the Treatment of Fibromyalgia
For individuals dealing with fibromyalgia, medical marijuana is an option. Two of its compounds – THC and CBD – have been effective in providing relief from most of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
The THC compound is comparable to the cannabinoid chemicals our body produces naturally. These compounds stimulate the cannabinoid neurons and receptors in the brain. Once activated, THC can reduce pain levels by switching on the brain’s reward system and increasing psychoactivity.
CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effect. It also doesn’t bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors. When using CBD, you get the cannabis benefits without the “high” associated with THC.
So, how can cannabis be used to treat fibromyalgia pain and its associated symptoms?
Cannabis and Fibromyalgia Pain
A 2017 study published by the National Academies Press claims that after extensively assessing cannabis, it can be successfully used to alleviate severe and chronic pain in adults. The study was a combination of five systematic reviews of the health benefits of cannabis, including any therapeutic effects.
There have been a few studies focused exclusively on fibromyalgia. But you can assume that cannabis could help with the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia based on the 2017 study results.
Some individuals have also explored using cannabis for period pain.
While there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence of cannabis on fibromyalgia pain, more scientific research is needed to validate these claims’ efficacy.
Cannabis and Fibromyalgia Sleep Issues
In 2011, PLOS ONE, a highly respected journal, published a study of cannabis and its effects on fibromyalgia and its associated symptoms. Eighty-one percent of individuals participating in the study reported better sleep quality after treating fibromyalgia with marijuana.
The study concluded that medical marijuana could be an effective treatment for insomnia due to fibromyalgia.
A 2018 review of the NAP study earlier referenced also concluded that there was some evidence that medical marijuana in its various forms could also improve sleep quality. However, they could only validate the results for the short term. There was no evidence that these effects were sustainable in the long term.
Cannabis and Other Fibromyalgia Symptoms
While peer-reviewed research and studies of the effectiveness of marijuana on other symptoms of fibromyalgia are few and far between, anecdotal evidence abounds.
Most of the evidence comes from the fact that marijuana has been used for thousands of years to treat mood swings, anxiety attacks, mild headaches, migraines, and loosen stiff muscles.
The popular Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies claims that most of these claims come from observational research and randomized surveys.
It’s expected that more conclusive research will be published soon, especially as the popularity of marijuana as a medical drug continues to rise unabated.
Ways to Use Marijuana to Treat Fibromyalgia Pain
There are various ways to use marijuana. But it is a choice you have to make yourself, depending on what you prefer.
For some individuals, they prefer to smoke marijuana. Smoking is the fastest way to get pain relief. You can also use a vaporizer if you don’t want some of the purported side effects of smoking. You can also explore vaping.
Another popular way of consuming marijuana is oral. These forms are called edibles – ice creams, biscuits, and cookies. The effects of edibles last longer than when you smoke marijuana. However, it takes longer to start feeling the effects.
Lastly, you can apply it topically. This method allows you to benefit from pain relief without the associated high. Using oils or lotions mixed with marijuana means you can control what part of your body you’ll apply the oil on.
You may have to experiment with a few options before you settle on your preferred intake method. Some folks typically use a combination of two or more – use the edibles at night and smoke during the day. Remember that each state has its own rules about cannabis consumption. You’ll need to check your local laws before purchasing any product.
Research about marijuana as a natural remedy for fibromyalgia pain is still developing. However, researchers are confident that cannabis has the ability to soothe symptoms of this painful condition.