Treating Painful Fibromyalgia Symptoms With Cannabis

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic debilitating condition that includes symptoms of chronic diffuse pain, sleep disturbance, migraine headaches, fatigue, joint pain and irritable bowel-type symptoms. Patients may have all or just some of these symptoms. Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is considered a subtype of fibromyalgia. It appears that all patients with these conditions suffer a heightened perception of pain thought to be due to abnormal processing of pain signals in the central nervous system. The mainstay of treatment is medication, primarily pain relievers such as NSAIDs and opiates, pregabalin (antiepileptic), duloextine (antidepressant), muscle relaxants and sleep aids.

An endocannabinoid deficiency or dysregulation has been hypothesized to be a possible cause of fibromyalgia symptoms. Studies have not completely elucidated this theory, but there is some evidence of abnormal endocannabinoid levels in patients with fibromyalgia. Recent studies show that fibromyalgia patients have increased levels of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that can cause inflammation and damage when it accumulates. Fibromyalgia patients have been found to have higher blood levels of pro-inflammatory compounds, which indicates abnormal inflammation may play a role.

Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of cannabinoid treatment in fibromyalgia patients.

  • A small group of fibromyalgia patients who received daily doses of THC and no other pain medications reported a significant reduction in daily recorded pain.
  • The synthetic cannabinoid called nabilone improved symptoms in 40 patients with fibromyalgia in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
  • A recent study from Spain reported that fibromyalgia patients who used cannabis had a statistically significant reduction in pain and stiffness, enhancement of relaxation, and improved sleep with an increased feeling of well being.

I have evaluated hundreds of patients with fibromyalgia in my medical practice. Many are not finding relief with conventional medications or are having adverse side effects that make the medications intolerable. The majority are able to discontinue use of prescription medications, as cannabis is effective in treating pain, mood, insomnia and inflammation. Patients find success with THC-rich cannabis, CBD-rich cannabis and/or CBD+THC cannabis products depending on individual preference and response. Many patients prefer CBD-rich cannabis during the day, as there is no psychoactivity, and THC at night to promote better sleep. I encourage patients who find relief with THC-rich cannabis to also include some CBD in their regimen for added anti-inflammatory effects. Different methods of cannabinoid delivery depend on a patient’s personal preference. Vaporizing or sublingual oil will have a much quicker onset than edible cannabis products.

Cannabis varieties reported to be helpful in these patients are CBD-rich strains, such as AC/DC, Harlequin, and Cannatonic, as well as those that contain the following terpenoids: β-Caryophyllene (anti-inflammatory and analgesic), pinene (anti-inflammatory) and linalool (analgesic and relaxing).

If you want to learn more about how the world’s most misunderstood plant is healing everything from chronic pain to epilepsy, pick up a copy of Cannabis Revealed today.

cannabis revealed

American Botanical Council 2017 Book of the Year Semi-Finalist


Sources

Kaufmann, Ines, et al. “Anandamide and neutrophil function in patients with fibromyalgia.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 33.5 (2008): 676-685.

Harris, Richard E., et al. “Dynamic levels of glutamate within the insula are associated with improvements in multiple pain domains in fibromyalgia.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 58.3 (2008): 903-907.

Wang, Haili, et al. “Circulating cytokine levels compared to pain in patients with fibromyalgia—a prospective longitudinal study over 6 months.” The Journal of rheumatology 35.7 (2008): 1366-1370.

Schley, M., et al. Delta-9-THC based monotherapy in fibromyalgia patients on experimentally induced pain, axon, reflex flare, and pain relief. Current Medical Research and Opinion (2006) 22: 1269-1276

Skrabek, R., et al. Nabilone for the treatment of pain in fibromyalgia. The Journal of Pain (2008) 9: 164-173

Fiz, J., et al. Cannabis use in patients with fibromyalgia: effect on symptoms relief and health-related quality of life. Public Library of Science One (2011) 6: e18440

About Author

Bonni Goldstein, M.D. is a physician who specializes in cannabis medicine in Los Angeles, California. She specialized in Pediatric Emergency medicine for years before witnessing the amazing benefits of this treatment in an ill loved one. Since then, she has successfully treated thousands of adult and pediatric patients with cannabis. She regularly speaks about cannabis medicine at conferences and patient groups around the world. She is the owner and medical director of CannaCenters and medical advisor to Weedmaps.com. She is the author of the recently published book, Cannabis Revealed.

4 Comments

  1. Penny Watkins on

    I have tried this in the past and my Dr knows this but does not agree. But it really did help better than pills of any kind!!!

    • Glad to hear you were able to find some relief, Penny. As such, you should encourage your medical provider to learn a bit about the Endocannabinoid System in our bodies — open a doctor’s mind, change thousands of lives!

  2. I have been on Morphine for 5 years now because I have DDD and I had 3 disks replaced C2 C3 and C4. I had a nerve damaged during my surgery which now leaves me in severe pain every single day of my life that’s why I am still on morphine. Plus I have many more health problems. So off and on during the summer and maybe a few times during the winter I would smoke a little marijuana two hits wood make me so messed up I couldn’t smoke that often so when I did I would only take one hit which helped me sleep and help with the pain. I just don’t like the feeling of being messed up from smoking marijuana. My pain specialist would always do a urine sample to make sure I was taking my morphine about three and a half years of smoking marijuana off and on knowing it would probably show up in my urine test he never said anything to me until one day I came into the office and he asked me if I had a problem with marijuana I told him know that I only smoke it maybe twice a month he got really upset and told me I had to make the choice I would either have to be stop taking morphine and not be his patient or stop smoking marijuana so of course I stopped smoking marijuana. I asked him what the difference is in taking prescription medication and drinking alcohol he said that you’re not supposed to and I said no your not but people do it every single day because they know there are limits. I have had a lot of health problems because of how much morphine I take every single day I know if I could use medical marijuana left out the THC and had more CBD in the marijuana that would help me with my pain and I might would be able to come off of morphine that I am now addicted to because I’ve been on it for 5 years. I was diagnosed with fibro about 15 years ago and I have been on disability for about 10 years now and I am only 43. I wish some of the older doctors would understand the difference between marijuana and medical marijuana. I was vaping CBD oil and it seemed to help but my pain kept leaking so I gave up on it if anyone knows where I can get a good vape pen made for CBD oil please let me know that way I can order more and use it to help with pain, sleep disorder, anxiety, panic attacks ,depression, PTSD, arthritis, migraine headaches and Fibro I would greatly appreciated.

    • Sweetie go to any lical vape or smoke shop. They have tons of Vape Pens there starting at $19.99. I have many heslth issues as well, similar to yours but I find CBD doesnt help as much, although I do enjoy it. I cant tell if regular weed helps because evrn one small puff gets me too wasted and I hate the effects of marijuana. Ive been on 120mgs a day of Oxy along with Fentanyl 50mcl every other day. I kept loosing doctor after doctor due to drug interactions with my other medications and false positives and false negatives. One even caused me to hyper metabolize and I took 600mgs a day of Roxycodone and not one doctor caught it. I begged for help and told them I was in full blown withdrawal every hour. They just said, “Dont do it!” I had to do all the research on every incident and now that Ive been through every doctor, there are none in my town that take my Medicaid. Now Im stuff with Cannabis which I hate or The Streets. Well the stuff on the streets is cheapest and Im immune to any psychoactive effects due to how I lived during the 70’s. Plus I just do a pinch for pain relief, not trying to get high. Even 600mgs of Oxycodone, I couldnt feel a thing but I was 100% pain free and able to stop 5 other medications that were for conditions that Opium used to be prescribed for 100 years ago. Doctors dont even know that Oxycodone and Hydrocodone aren’t even Narcotics but are in fact Stimulants…they dont care anyway. Ok so I use an eGo One Vape pen and Ive had it for a year and havent even had to change the filter yet! I do love and they gave me an accessory so I can switch out the Chamber and put Dry Herb into it. Make friends with your lical Vape Shop and you’ll get great deals, discounts and freebies. When your friends inquire, take them. Dont just tell them where to go. Go with them! You’ll get extra discounts for bringing them business. I get all sorts of free gasgets when I go. Good luck and hope you find a good oain reliever. Stock up on Lyrica, Loperamide, and sny Bennie your doc (primary not pain doc)will give you to get off the Morphine. Ive lost over 40lbs. by weaning myself off the Fentanyl. Due to their medical negligence I now have Adrenal Insufficiency/Hypothyroidism due to the ER/LA Opiates which they never should have given a menapausal woman with one ovary who cant do Hormone Replacement Therapy.

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