Fibromyalgia: Cannabis vs. Prescription Drugs

Fibromyalgia can be a devastating disease that robs you of the ability to do simple daily tasks. The idea of trying to get through an entire day is often demoralizing. And on top of the physical and emotional challenges, fibromyalgia sufferers have had to battle a medical community that, for many years, didn’t consider the disease to be real. A decade ago patients were told that the disease was only in their heads.

Even now, fibromyalgia is misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Characterized as either chronic pain or a metabolic problem, researchers are finding that it is actually a complex neurological disorder. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint stiffness, insomnia, overall weakness, digestive trouble, headache, anxiety, and ‘fibro fog.’

The National Institutes of Health estimate that over five million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. Most of them are women.

 

The Causes

As you might have guessed, there is little agreement on the cause of fibromyalgia. A small group of researchers is currently studying the connection between fibromyalgia and Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).

Think of the endocannabinoid system as the interstate system of your body. It facilitates communications between your brain, glands, tissues, immune system, and all organ systems. The primary purpose of this system is to help you maintain homeostasis.

In order to function, you need a stable internal environment. If the endocannabinoid system is off balance, poor health is often the result. Your sleep, mood, digestive health, and more can all be affected.

Incidentally, these are also symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Is Medical Marijuana a Viable Treatment for Fibromyalgia?

There is no cure yet for fibromyalgia and the current medical treatments fall far short. Even the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs can be harsh. But many patients have found relief for their fibromyalgia in medical marijuana.

In fact, in 2014, the National Pain Foundation reported that 30% of surveyed fibromyalgia patients reported using medical marijuana to treat their symptoms. The survey had other interesting results:

  • 33% of medical marijuana users reported that it ‘helped a little.’
  • 62% reported that it was ‘very effective.’
  • 5% reported no benefit.
  • 10% reported Lyrica, Cymbalta or Savella as ‘very effective.’
  • 68% reported Lyrica, Cymbalta, or Savella ‘did not help at all.’

One of the main benefits of using medical marijuana is the ability to self-regulate. Fibromyalgia symptoms vary from day to day and month to month due to factors like stress, climate, and hormones. Medical marijuana provides patients with options like changing the method of consumption, the amount, and/or the strain used.

This leads to greater effectiveness at treating symptoms and puts patients in full control of symptom management.

Consumption

Vaporizing cannabis will allow it to enter the bloodstream and provide immediate relief. However, vaporizing will not last throughout the night. Edibles are often preferred for sleeping. A solid night’s sleep is a key factor to easier and long-term symptom management.

For daytime use, a strain with a high CBD content and low THC is best. This minimizes the psychoactive effects but still alleviates symptoms. High CBD also serves as a good counter to the chronic fatigue that accompanies fibromyalgia.

If you’re thinking of switching to medical marijuana, a period of trial and error is inevitable. You’ll have to find the strains and consumption methods that support you. Your local growers are a great resource for understanding the effects of the strains they grow.

Medical marijuana is an all-natural product with proven effectiveness at treating the majority of fibromyalgia symptoms. For sufferers who live in states where medical marijuana is currently illegal, the synthetic version, commonly known as Nabilone, is available.

For those who have tried prescription drugs and not found much success, cannabis offers many a new lease on life.