Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that shows potential pain-relieving properties. Research studies and anecdotal evidence has been steadily increasing from patients and doctors about the benefits of CBD oil for many different types of pain, including the type those with fibromyalgia experience. The debilitating disease isn’t well-understood and affects about four million adults in the U.S.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain all over the body, fatigue, sleep issues, and often additional problems like headaches, balance difficulties, or digestive trouble. Patients with fibromyalgia may experience an “overactive” nervous system response to even non-painful stimuli, which leads to the experience of heightened sensation, which is also known as hyperalgesia. Additionally, they might have a lower pain threshold. This health situation is known as allodynia.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but research suggests it might be related to central and peripheral nervous systems dysfunction. A 2020 study found that over 32% of participants surveyed used CBD for symptom management, and nearly 30% have used the compound in the past. The most common reason for use was natural pain relief.
It is also hypothesized that people with fibromyalgia have an imbalance of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin and norepinephrine. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp. Still, unlike THC, which is the principal psychoactive ingredient produced by the plant, CBD doesn’t cause a “high.” The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which receives signals from internal endogenous cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids like those found in the hemp plant.
Research shows CBD can interact with the ECS. The system regulates the body’s inflammatory system, pain response, and hormonal balance. It also promotes neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability to learn and recover. More research is needed in this area. However, preliminary studies suggest that CBD oil could help treat chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia by lowering inflammation and reducing hyperalgesia.
Studies About CBD for Fibromyalgia
Studies are limited for CBD and fibromyalgia. However, plenty of research involves the symptoms, including chronic pain, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. Below are some of the most promising reports for CBD and fibromyalgia.
CBD and Pain
A primary symptom of fibromyalgia is painful joints and muscles. Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce pain by affecting endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous system.
A review of studies involving CBD and pain published in the April 2020 issue of Frontiers in Pharmacology explains,
“Since the early 2000s, clinical trials involving CBD for the treatment of chronic pain have shown effects ranging from placebo-equivalent to highly effective; many of these studies have been well-designed randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled. In a mixed cohort of patients suffering from intractable pain due to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury, and limb amputation, CBD treatment significantly reduced pain on a visual analog scale.“
The report concludes that more research and better product regulation are necessary to confirm these findings.
As mentioned, dozens of studies and testimonials have indicated that cannabinoids can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, “Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action,” explains,
“CBD is a well-tolerated and safe natural compound exerting analgesic effects in various animal models of pain, as well as clinical studies. The referenced studies indicate a positive influence of CBD in the treatment for various diseases in both pre-clinical and clinical trials. In the majority of animal studies, CBD has been demonstrated to exert analgesic effects, diminishing hyperalgesia and mechanical/thermal allodynia through various routes of administration.”
The journal article’s author suggests CBD is the better choice over other methods, including THC, because it has very few and mild side effects.
CBD for Sleep
Trouble sleeping is another typical problem people with fibromyalgia experience. CBD has been shown to help reduce sleep disturbances. In general, sleep complaints are prevalent throughout society. Research investigating CBD and sleep is limited as scientists work to see how the compound interacts with the body’s sleep-wake cycle. However, available studies indicate that CBD’s potential to reduce anxiousness and relax the mind and body promotes better sleep.
An exciting study published in the July 2020 issue of Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience concluded,
“It is becoming increasingly evident that endocannabinoids play a prominent role in sleep and sleep neurophysiology, and cannabinoid drugs alter these processes. There are clear overlaps between the brain eCB system and sleep-wake circuitry, and cannabinergic manipulations are capable of altering sleep on a large scale in terms of time spent in specific vigilance states and fine-scale in terms of sleep architecture and spectral power of specific sleep-related brain rhythms.”
Similar to the other report from Frontiers in Pharmacology, more research and better oversight of products is necessary to recommend CBD for sleep.
CBD and Fatigue
Fatigue is another common symptom of fibromyalgia that CBD may be able to help manage. Studies show that CBD oil can reduce signs of fatigue by impacting serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters in the brain.
When you’re not sleeping, brain fog is common. However, people with fibromyalgia experience more profound fatigue that extra sleep won’t fix. Studies show the endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in the sleep-wake cycle, improving sleep and reducing daytime sleepiness.
“Thus, it could be plausible to consider the use of CBD to explore its medical properties in somnolence. The current review highlights the pharmacological evidence on the effects of CBD on sleep modulation and provides a putative mechanism of action.”
The researchers concluded,
“For a better understanding of the molecular and neuroanatomical mechanism by which CBD regulates sleep, this subject should be further investigated.”
Another way CBD might help with fatigue is by assisting the ECS regulates energy expenditure to ensure you’re not running on empty at the end of the day. A 2020 report involving CBD and sports performance found,
“Thus, studies investigating the effect of CBD (in conjunction with behavior therapies) on pre-competition anxiety, as well as nutritional intake, energy expenditure, symptom perception during exercise (e.g. ratings of perceived exertion), and sleep in athletes who are negatively impacted by SPA are warranted.”
Ways to Use CBD for Fibromyalgia
Some consumers find the versatility of CBD confusing. You can use CBD topically, sublingually (under the tongue), and orally. Since it is non-psychoactive, you can ingest CBD as a food, mint, or beverage. Additionally, you can smoke and vape it, which offers the fastest relief.
Some people prefer topical CBD because of its localized effects over other options like vaping, smoking, and oral delivery. Smoking can be harsh and sometimes cause nausea in some consumers. Additionally, because topicals don’t enter the bloodstream, it’s okay to use them as needed and still consume edibles or other forms of CBD safely. Combining different products is an excellent way to get the most benefit from the hemp extract.
For example, it takes up to two hours for capsules or edibles to work because they have to go through the digestion process to reach the bloodstream. While waiting, apply a topical. However, that’ll be about 20 minutes. For relief right away, vape or smoke CBD. To learn more about the pros and cons of different CBD delivery methods, click here .
The U.S. has many high-quality CBD oil suppliers with thousands of customer reviews per product, often available at affordable places. Make sure you read our guide on how to buy safe, premium CBD oil in the U.S. With CBD, chronic pain sufferers may find relief without the side effects of traditional treatments. Since more research is needed to understand the impact of CBD on fibromyalgia better, there are precautionary measures to consider. Always check with your doctor before starting any new wellness supplements. As more information is available for CBD and fibromyalgia, we’ll update you here at Therapeutic CBD.