Living with fibromyalgia means living with pain, uncertainty, and sometimes fear. Can CBD help you regain control? Read on and discover what CBD can do for fibromyalgia.
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If you, or someone you love, has fibromyalgia, you understand the constant physical and emotional battle. From pain and fatigue to sleep issues and brain fog, this underrecognized condition can leave you feeling out of control. Many patients, however, are turning to CBD (cannabidiol) to help relieve some of their symptoms.
Does that mean CBD can relieve fibromyalgia pain? Can using a high-quality CBD supplement give you back control of your life? Keep reading and discover what CBD can do for fibromyalgia.
Disclaimer: We want to take a moment and remind everyone that while CBD is considered a safe and mild supplement, you should always talk with your doctor before adding CBD into your regimen.
What is Fibromyalgia?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4 million adults in the US are affected by fibromyalgia. However, considering how difficult it is to receive a diagnosis for this disorder, that number is likely much higher. While the cause is still unknown, women are two times as likely as men to get fibromyalgia and it’s more likely for people to get diagnosed when they’re middle-aged.
There are also some conditions that make the disease more likely. Those with a family history of the disease, certain autoimmune disorders, repetitive joint injuries, and even those who experience traumatic events are more likely to get fibromyalgia. But what exactly IS fibromyalgia?
It’s believed that fibromyalgia causes more pain sensitivity throughout the body. However, the biological mechanisms for fibromyalgia are still heavily debated. The Mayo Clinic says, “ Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals.” This leads to a wide array of symptoms…
- Widespread pain and stiffness
- Cognitive issues (thinking, memory, concentration)
- Sleep disturbances
- Tingling/numbness in hands and/or feet
- Jaw disorders
- Digestive issues
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and not all symptoms are as severe as others. Lifestyle management (exercise, stress management, healthy sleep habits, etc.) are recommended to help manage symptoms. If someone’s fibromyalgia is mild, these steps are sometimes exactly what they need. For more severe cases, medications are often prescribed.
There are those, however, who need more than lifestyle management and medication. For those individuals, they have to meticulously plan their life around the pain and fatigue associated with their disease. Sometimes that means skipping social events, taking fewer hours at work, and having a harder time participating in family life.
So, can CBD help these people regain control of their lives?
What is CBD?
CBD is a compound derived from the hemp plant. It’s non-psychoactive (it won’t get you high) and over the last several years its popularity has grown exponentially–and for good reason! CBD interacts with your natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) to bring different systems back into balance.
While you may not have heard of the ECS, it’s surprisingly complex and incredibly important to your overall wellness. All vertebrates have an ECS, and our bodies actually produce their own cannabinoids to work with this system (these are called endocannabinoids). Because CBD is so similar to these endocannabinoids, it can interact with your ECS in much the same way. Put simply, CBD helps your ECS accomplish its many tasks more easily.
So, by supplementing with CBD, you’ll help your ECS reduce anxiety, decrease pain sensitivity, balance your sleep/wake cycle, reduce inflammation, and more. But can CBD help those with fibromyalgia find relief from their symptoms?
Does CBD Provide Relief From Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
First, it’s important to know that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve CBD as a valid treatment or therapy for fibromyalgia. However, in 2013 a review claimed that it can be used to relieve fibromyalgia pain and even pain in other conditions like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
CBD Has Been Shown to Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain
One of the main reasons CBD has gained so much popularity is it’s success helping people manage chronic pain. It does this in two ways. First, CBD has a massive impact on the immune system, which controls inflammation. Since fibromyalgia isn’t an inflammatory condition, this isn’t the mechanism we’re focused on. We’re mainly focused on CBD’s ability to balance neurotransmitters that influence pain perception.
Frontiers in Pharmacology published a review stating, “The mechanisms of the analgesic effect of cannabinoids include inhibition of the release of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides from presynaptic nerve endings, modulation of postsynaptic neuron excitability, activation of descending inhibitory pain pathways, and reduction of neural inflammation.”
Basically, CBD may interrupt the nerve pathways that transmit pain signals from the brain. For someone with fibromyalgia, this can be the difference between a productive/active day and a day spent isolated and in pain.
CBD Has Helped Fibromyalgia Patients Manage Anxiety
The anxiety that comes with chronic pain is very real. First, being in pain is already very stressful which can throw off your cortisol production and your sleep cycle. In turn, that can effect your metabolism, then your weight, then your heart health, and it goes on and on. That’s not even mentioning the stress and anxiety that comes from worrying about being in pain. It’s a never-ending cycle of being in pain and then worrying about when the pain will return.
Luckily, CBD can help break that cycle. CBD is an anxiolytic, meaning that it can actually help reduce anxiety. There are even studies indicating that CBD could be an effective treatment for different anxiety disorders. CBD accomplishes this by helping the ECS balance GABA levels.
Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is the neurotransmitter that pumps the breaks on excitatory neurotransmitters. Basically, it helps calm neural activity and promote a sense of relaxation. Without enough GABA you may notice racing thoughts, an inability to wind-down, mania, and anxiety. Luckily, your ECS already has a mechanism in place to boost GABA levels when they get too low. So, taking CBD just helps your ECS accomplish that task more easily.
CBD Can Help Fibromyalgia Patients Get a Good Night’s Rest
Whether it’s pain, anxiety, or a bit of both that makes it hard for you to get a good night’s rest, CBD can help.
In 2019, a study with 72 individuals found that when subjects were administered 25mg CBD capsules every day, almost 80% had less anxiety and 66.7% slept better. Minimizing pain also makes it easier for the body to relax and prepare for quality sleep.
The key to CBD and overcoming sleep issues, however, is making sure you’re using Full-Spectrum products. CBD isolates only have CBD and nothing else. Broad-Spectrum products have CBD and other natural botanical compounds from the hemp plant like terpenes. Full-Spectrum products have CBD, all those same botanical compounds, and a negligible amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
While this tiny amount of THC isn’t enough to get you high, it’s the perfect amount to help overcome sleep disturbances. Each of the different compounds in Full-Spectrum CBD has its own list of benefits, but when you use them together their effects are amplified. This is what’s known as the Entourage Effect.
How to Use CBD to Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?
While managing fibromyalgia can definitely be tricky, using CBD is anything but. With the different types of products available, you can pick and choose what fits into your lifestyle most conveniently. Before getting started with a CBD supplement, we recommend you do a bit of homework.
Just like fibromyalgia, CBD can effect people differently. That’s why it’s important to take your time and figure out which CBD strength is right for you and what’s the best time of day for you to use CBD. Some of it may seem pretty common sense, but it’s still important to keep track of your responses so you can develop a foolproof CBD regimen that helps you manage symptoms.
It’s also a good idea to integrate CBD into the routine you already have. If your afternoon walk helps you de-stress, consider taking your CBD before or after your walk to enhance the anxiolytic properties of that activity. If your morning smoothie is one of the ways you make sure you’re getting important vitamins and minerals, consider adding CBD.
Also, don’t forget that you can use different CBD products for different needs. If your pain is widespread, a high-strength CBD Oil will help reduce pain overall. However, if your pain is isolated to a specific spot, a CBD Gel will give you targeted relief right where you need it. Plus, you can even combine topicals and oils for extra relief.
Don’t Let Fibromyalgia Control You
Fibromyalgia can be isolating, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone. There are so many people fighting the same fight, and thousands of them have regained control by adding CBD into their routine.