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Cannabis and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a lifelong disorder that is characterized by pain, fatigue, depression and cognitive impairment, along with other symptoms. This chronic condition is exhausting both physically and mentally to those who have it, and for many patients, it can be completely debilitating. With very few and questionably effective treatments currently available for fibromyalgia, it’s no wonder that patients are turning to a more natural way to relieve their pain.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome primarily characterized by diffuse musculoskeletal pain, mood and sleep disturbances, and fatigue. It affects an estimated 2% -7% of the population, and women tend to be more prone to it than men. Physical symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Tenderness
  • Generalized pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to focus

Cognitive symptoms include loss of concentration, disorientation, and a feeling of the brain seeming “foggy”. The occurrence of neurosensory symptoms is also prevalent, including migraines, vertigo, and sensitivity to light, sounds and smells.

The causes of fibromyalgia are uncertain, and we still know quite little about the condition. It seems that the pain signals in the brain are exaggerated, which amplifies the feeling of pain in the muscles and soft tissues. To put it simply, the pain receptors in the brain are always switched to “On”. The pain caused by fibromyalgia tends to be persistent, widespread and can move through the body in waves. It can be triggered by changes in temperature or pressure, by over-activity or exertion, or a variety of other things. Sometimes there are no definitive triggers at all. There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, and common treatment now is pain control (such as opioids), physical therapy and a few specific medications for the condition. Since mental health is greatly affected by the disorder, anti-depressants and benzodiazepines are often prescribed. Side effects from these medications can range from mild to severe and the medications, opioids especially, are proven to be incredibly addictive.

Can Medical Marijuana Help?

It’s thought that fibromyalgia is an ‘array of symptoms’ that result from hypersensitivity of the body’s pain perception signalling system, which could be a result of a possible imbalance of the endocannabinoid system. Marijuana works through certain components specifically binding to the endocannabinoid system. If fibromyalgia is partly a result of a malfunction of the endocannabinoid system, that would suggest that marijuana would be a massive relief and viable treatment option for people with fibromyalgia.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 26 patients with fibromyalgia were given medical cannabis to test its effectiveness. The results were extremely promising. After using cannabis (for a time period of 10+ months) 100% of the patients reported “a significant improvement in every parameter on the questionnaire”. Thirteen patients (50%) stopped taking other fibromyalgia prescriptions due to the effectiveness of cannabis, and only 30% of the patients experienced “very mild” adverse effects. The study concluded, “Medical cannabis treatment had a significant favourable effect on patients with fibromyalgia, with few adverse effects.” 

A survey conducted by the National Pain Foundation and National Pain Report questioned the effectiveness of the fibromyalgia medications currently on the market, Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella, compared to medical marijuana. Roughly 1,300 fibromyalgia sufferers responded, and the results were astonishing.

  • 61% said Lyrica (Pregabalin) “Does not help at all”, 29% said it “helps a little” and 10% agreed it was “very effective”.
  • 60% answered that Cymbalta (Duloxetine) “Does not help at all” with fibromyalgia symptoms, 32% said that it “helps a little” and only 8% found it “very effective”.
  • A whopping 68% of Savella (Milnacipran) users stated that it “does not help at all” with 22% answering it “helps a little” and 10% said it was “very effective”.
  •  Medical marijuana, on the other hand, was found to be extremely beneficial. 62% of patients on the survey claimed cannabis to be “very effective” with their fibromyalgia symptoms. 33% alleged that it “helps a little”, with only 5% saying that it did not help them at all.

The results quoted a few of the survey takers, with one stating, “I’ve found nothing that has worked for me, apart from marijuana.”

A cross-sectional study performed by the University of Granada in Spain found that there is a greater impact physically than psychologically, but both are largely affected. Cannabis is famous for giving an uplifting and happy feeling to users. Certain strains, such as OG Kush, are especially helpful against mental conditions such as depression and anxiety which are often part of fibromyalgia.

Which Cannabis Strains Would Work Best?

Fire Leaf Dispensary in Oklahoma offers a variety of strains to help patients with all conditions, including fibromyalgia. Whether you are looking for a strain to use in the daytime to combat pain relief while keeping you fully functional, or something a bit heavier for evenings/nights to help with relaxation and sleep as well as pain relief, we have you covered. Here are a few strains we recommend for both day and night use.

For Daytime

Headband – A hybrid strain, Headband is popular for its pain relief, as well as combating feelings of stress and depression, giving you full relaxation. A slow moving and strong high, it is recommended that patients pace themselves with this one until the full effects are in swing. This strain is famous for the feeling of slight pressure around the head, which gives the patient a feeling of wearing a headband.

Jack Flash – Another fantastic hybrid, Jack Flash will leave you feeling uplifted and creative, while relieving stress, depression and pain.

OG Kush – A favorite for pain relief among many users, OG Kush has been a classic strain since the 90’s. Another strain that keeps you feeling happy, this hybrid will fight pain while giving an enjoyable head high that mellows out into an even body buzz.

CBD Products

If you are wanting pain relief without any type of high, CBD is the right choice for you. We offer easy to take CBD options that provide effective relief. Verywell Health wrote an article on the possibilities of using CBD to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms, and explored that CBD could assist patients by using the endocannabinoid system. Fireleaf has a range of CBD products available that are easy to use and very effective. These products include;

  • Oil tincture drops – 1500 mg, in flavors Mint and Orange

We offer these products in lower dosages but recommend the 1000-1500 mg options for moderate to severe pain.

For Sleep

Common symptoms of fibromyalgia are restlessness and insomnia. Although those with fibromyalgia feel fatigued most of the day, it can be difficult for patients to sleep due to pain and other symptoms. This insomnia creates even more fatigue for the next day, and so on. Fireleaf has some exceptional strains that can help keep you feeling relaxed, happy and pain free, allowing for a restful night’s sleep. Pleasant dreams!

9 lb Hammer – An 80% Indica hybrid, the effects of this strain are long lasting and “heavy”. This strain would help induce sleep, ease pain and reduce stress. A strong hitting strain, 9 lb Hammer packs a punch with a 27% THC level. Due to the high THC level in this strain, if you are prone to paranoia or anxiety, this strain may not work best for you.

Bubba Kush – This indica strain boasts head to toe tranquilizing effects, that also provide happy and euphoric feelings. With a THC level of 18.5%, this strain is a favorite for stress relief.

Mango – An indica dominant strain, Mango is beneficial against chronic pain, especially pain in the joints. It tends to reduce inflammation and anxiety while providing drowsy and euphoric feelings. This strain has a THC level of 16.2%.

Platinum Fire – A pure indica strain, this potent strain creates a sleepy and relaxing body high that specifically assist against insomnia, chronic pain, nerve pain, anxiety, depression and more.

Platinum GSC – An award-winning hybrid, this strain is great for patients with severe pain, nausea, migraines and stress. Platinum GSC will leave you feeling relaxed and uplifted while alleviating pain. It is excellent news that cannabis is proving to give much-needed relief for fibromyalgia patients, with the ability to quell the terrible symptoms caused by the condition. As time continues, more studies are being conducted to link the benefits of cannabis with chronic pain conditions. Until then, we continue to hear the inspiring stories of those who have found cannabis to be their answer.