What We Know About CBD for Fibromyalgia

What we currently know about fibromyalgia is actually quite limited. Unfortunately, the research behind the causes of fibromyalgia can go as far as to say that it is from genetics.

However, that’s not to say that research is only just beginning. In fact, in 1904, William Gowers coined the term “fibrositis” for muscle pain being associated with muscular rheumatism. It wasn’t until 1976 when Hugh A. Smythe created the classification for fibromyalgia and the widely relatable tender points among fibro patients.

So, what’s happening now in the field of research? Well, as many sufferers of fibromyalgia may tell you, many pain medications simply don’t help ease the pain. Because it is a neurological disorder, treatment can be very ineffective, and diagnosing is problematic. But a new age of research in medicine is entering the US, and the effects of cannabidiol as a part of medical cannabis is gaining attention from not just doctors, but patients too.

Also known as CBD, cannabidiol is just one of the one hundred plus cannabinoids found in both hemp and cannabis. Research suggests that it can help diabetics with neuropathy, pain as well as glucose levels. But the major reasons people have been turning to CBD is for anxiety, pain, as well as sleep

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is described as pain, differing in severity, surrounding what is normally called “tender points.” Sadly, it’s far more complex than that. Fibromyalgia is a neurological disorder driven by the central nervous system and is believed to amplify painful sensations brought on by pain signals.

Fibromyalgia vector illustration. Diagnosis symptoms labeled diagram. Problems with jaw, joints, skin, muscle, eyes, urinary and reproductive system. Reason of fatigue. Source

It is also known for bringing the “fibro fog” which causes intense drowsiness, likely depression, sleep disturbance, and stiffness. Sleeplessness and depression pose major issues and actually have a surprising relationship with fibromyalgia. Many researchers believe that they have a link. People with fibromyalgia are up to three times more likely to have depression at the time of diagnosis than those who do not have fibromyalgia. Depression has similar pathophysiology and both depression and FM are largely targeted by the same drugs with dual action on serotoninergic and noradrenergic systems. This shows that depression and FM function in a similar fashion. While this may not seem too exciting, it immensely helps the diagnosis process in the long run due to the absence of physical symptoms.

One study even suggests that depression is a predisposition for FM, and that certain traumatic events that cause depression, as well as physical pain, can produce a chronic, potent issue. Fibromyalgia and depression have a very clear link, and of course, the pain brought on by FM can cause such depression to worsen. And while people with fibromyalgia are much more likely to have depression and anxiety, that does not make FM a psychological condition. It can show that people who have a genetic predisposition to FM also means they may have a predisposition to conditions like depression.

The Complexity of Fibromyalgia

The pain that Fibromyalgia brings varies from person to person. The diagnosis process has to go through points of severity and is different for all. Similar to the classifications of arthritis, although people with rheumatoid arthritis often have fibromyalgia simultaneously. 

Fibromyalgia is a neurological disorder that affects as nearly as 2-4% of the US population, and 3-6% of the world. It stands still as one of the most common chronic pain conditions to be prescribed for all ages. Juvenile fibromyalgia, or FM, has been documented in account for it running down in genetics.  It’s believed that 75-90% of FM cases are women, usually being diagnosed from ages 20 to 50 years, but the percentage of diagnosis increases as we get older, and is believed that 8% of age 80 and older meet with the American College of Rheumatology classification for fibromyalgia.

To make matters more stressful for those suffering, not much is known about the disorder. Although research shows that it is a neurological disorder, medicines can pose no help at times. The little research as well as the minimal showing symptoms, the dissonance between the patient and doctor is very real. As of 2016, one quarter of FM patients didn’t feel their doctors held their condition “very legitimate.” This is a big problem for people with FM, as the pain is very real, but the signs are not, and is often associated with a form of arthritis. 

Traditional Fibromyalgia Treatment

It’s not as simple as a blood test. Diagnosis requires an assessment of symptom severity, and that’s really all doctors can look for considering there are no forms of imaging available.

Patients with FM are highly likely to have other chronic conditions, which can help the diagnosis process. A patient-centered approach is typical when diagnosing, and education of the strategies of self-management. Physical therapy can help and is usually utilized before medication is given. Typical drugs that are given to fibro patients are duloxetine, pregabalin, milnacipran, and amitriptyline.

The major posing problem with these traditional treatments is that the pain is directly caused from a neurological issue. Whereas this can cause some confusion with the condition, the pain can very easily stay severe despite drug interference. Confusion among people as well as researchers suggest that FM is essentially pain coming from nothing, and the overwhelming evidence of the link between depression and FM pose the question if it is really a form of depression and arthritis, with both having one underlying condition. These medications have side effects as well, which include: 

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Itching, rashes, irritation
  • Impotence
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue

Side effects pose a serious risk to the mental and physical health of fibro patients. A long list of medications that do not guarantee ease of pain. On top of that, FM commonly overlaps with other somatic syndromes, which include chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and many others which require medications of their own.

Fibromyalgia can develop out of the blue, even though it is likely a biological response of the cumulative effects of the many types of stresses that can cause it, physical and mental. This, in combination with a predisposition to psychiatric/musculoskeletal disorders, fibromyalgia can develop.

Overall, researchers try to do a multidimensional management program. A combination of rehabilitative practices to reduce stress as well as depression, and low doses of the drugs listed.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of the many components found in medical cannabis as well as hemp. Studies support the idea that these combined cannabinoids have a synergistic effect which can help immensely with nerve pain, neurological imbalances (which includes blood pressure, blood sugar, as well as neurotransmitter levels).

But how can CBD help monitor such pivotal brain functions? Animals, not just humans, harbor what’s called the “endocannabinoid system,” or ENS. This is a part of the central nervous system which contains our CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors inherently bind to different cannabinoids and naturally utilize them as a part of metabolism. Research is being done on the effects of the processing of these cannabinoids, and studies show that they can reduce inflammation in joints, help monitor blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and even neurodegeneration with multiple sclerosis

What’s particularly fascinating about CBD is the overall healing effects it has by working simply through neuroreceptors. It has also been shown to revitalize serotonin receptors, which plays a role in pain perception, maintaining body temperature, as well as a prevention to