Mind & Body

CBD for fibromyalgia: what to do when everything hurts

Does everything hurt? Is everything aching, and the only relief you can find is lying down? If this sounds like your life right now, then you may be suffering from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes pain all over the body. It’s also characterized by fatigue, headaches, and muscle stiffness – everything hurts.

Luckily there are many ways to manage your symptoms without relying on prescription drugs or other medications. CBD helps with everything from chronic pain management to mental health issues associated with fibromyalgia.

In this blog post we will discuss how CBD oil for fibromyalgia works and how it may help those who have been diagnosed with the illness.

What is fibromyalgia?

Although many people with fibromyalgia describe feeling tired and sleepy, others might feel irritable or anxious. According to doctors, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep difficulties, memory problems, and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia causes your brain and spinal cord to misinterpret pain signals.

Sometimes symptoms start following an incident, such as a physical accident, surgery, infection, or severe mental stress. However, in other cases, symptoms develop gradually over time without a specific triggering event.

Women are more prone to fibromyalgia than men. Fibromyalgia is frequently accompanied by tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety and depression.

A variety of drugs can be used as fibromyalgia treatment. Exercise, relaxation, and stress reduction techniques may also assist.

Fibromyalgia symptoms

The most frequent symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Widespread pain (on both sides of the body and below and above the waist). This aching, dull pain that lasts at least three months is the most typical characteristic of fibromyalgia.
  • Extreme fatigue. Pain disturbs sleep in many patients with fibromyalgia, despite having slept for lengthy periods of time. Pain frequently prevents fibromyalgia sufferers from sleeping. Many also suffer from other sleep issues, such as restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea.
  • Cognitive difficulties. “Fibro fog” or “brain fog” is a symptom of reduced attention, focus, and mental engagement.
A common symptom of fibromyalgia is “brain fog”: reduced focus, attention span and mental engagement

What is CBD and how does it work?

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of the compounds present in the cannabis plant. CBD’s possible therapeutic applications have been studied over many years by researchers.

The other well known compound in cannabis is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which has a psychological effect. THC creates a mind-altering “high” when smoked or used in cooking,

Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. When people take it, it does not alter their state of mind. Instead it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, helping in many different ways.

The endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system is a group of nerves and cell receptors in the brain essential for managing everything from cognition to mood.

The body has two different types of receptors:

Cannabinoid receptors CB1 are found throughout the central nervous system and especially in the brain. They control movement, pain, emotion, mood, thinking, appetite, memories, and a variety of other actions.

CB2 receptors are more prevalent in the immune system, and as such affect pain and inflammation more.  

THC joins directly with these CB1 and CB2 receptors overwhelming the system and causing its heady effects. CBD works differently. It activates these receptors, causing the body to generate its own cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids. 

How CBD oils can help with fibromyalgia 

CBD oils can help with fibromyalgia by increasing serotonin levels and making the body’s use of it more effective, thus raising pain threshold. 

In addition to serotonin, CBD also causes the body’s endocannabinoid system to use more of its own natural cannabinoids.

Fibromyalgia can cause poor sleeping habits or insomnia that interfere with the ability to function throughout the day. According to a review published in 2020, CBD has antioxidant properties. These can help with pain relief by reducing free radicals that damage cells and cause inflammation. 

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that cbd oil may help with fibromyalgia patients’ symptoms. Quality research is now being done to confirm this, however the majority of these studies have concentrated on medical marijuana (containing THC) rather than CBD alone. 

A 2006 study concluded that CBD works best when combined with THC. And a 2019 study on the analgesic effects of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia agreed. Its results showed that the patients taking the high THC cannabis had a 30% decrease in pain scores compared with the placebo.

Whilst marijuana with its mix of THC and CBD seems to be a promising treatment for managing fibromyalgia, It seems more clinical data is needed to know the full potential of CBD alone.

Why CBD products may be more effective than prescription drugs 

Prescription drugs are typically similar to opiates, they act on one specific receptor in the brain (such as those for oxycodone). This leads your body to develop a tolerance over time, leading to the need for higher doses for pain relief. 

The problem can easily develop into addiction because of the strength of the medications. This is why medical cannabis is becoming popular, particularly among younger people, as it can replace these prescription medications.

One study compared CBD with gabapentin (a common prescription drug) and found that both drugs were effective in treating pain. However, the participants taking CBD reported feeling less tired than those who took gabapentin.

Preliminary research suggests it also enhances the effects of opiates and other narcotics, but this has not been studied in humans yet.

Full spectrum CBD oils contain the full spectrum
Full spectrum CBD oils contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes including small amounts of THC

Best CBD oil for fibromyalgia: full spectrum, broad spectrum or CBD isolate?

Full spectrum CBD oil

The cannabis sativa plant contains over 500 different compounds including cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. Full spectrum CBD contains a distillate of all of the compounds from the plant, not just CBD. This means that it may include cannabinoids such as CBA, THC, CBG, CBN etc, all of which have their own medicinal properties. 

This distillate is then added to a carrier oil, such as hemp oil, olive oil or coconut (MCT) oil in different concentrations to make different strength oils (5%, 10%, 20% 30% etc). 

The advantage of full spectrum CBD oils is the so-called entourage effect. This is the way that all of these elements work together, complementing each other to give higher therapeutic effects. 

Think of it as the difference between listening to a single violin, or a whole orchestra, where each instrument contributes to the greater whole of the music. 

It is important to note that a full spectrum oil will also contain THC, though in small legal quantities, of under 0.3% (or 0.2%, depending on your country). THC has many positive medicinal qualities and this is great in most cases, but it can also cause anxiety in some people who are highly sensitive. If this is you, you might be better off with a broad spectrum oil. 

Broad spectrum CBD oil

Like full spectrum, broad spectrum CBD oils contain most of the compounds of the cannabis plant they were extracted from, but with one crucial difference. Broad spectrum CBD products will include either 0%, or tiny trace amounts of THC. This is a good option for those who get anxious as THC can exacerbate this, or people that are worried about testing positive for THC in a drug test. 

CBD isolate

CBD isolate is just pure CBD extract containing none of the other elements of the cannabis sativa plant. This is great for anybody who is worried about a positive drug-test, or who literally only wants CBD. It will not however give you the entourage effect or full or broad spectrum oils.

How to take CBD for fibromyalgia pain relief  – dosage

The typical dose of CBD oil in research studies ranges from 400 to 600 mg daily. However, most users take much smaller doses spread throughout the day and before bedtime. In fact, some people report improvements with doses as low as 3mg, taken three times a day.

The lesson here is that everybody’s physiology is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. As with all these things, it is best to start with the lowest dose possible  – maybe a 5% or 10% oil, and just 1 drop three times a day. From this you can work up, increasing the dosage every few days until you find what works for you.

Those with very high levels of pain may obviously need to start higher, with a stronger concentration of oil and more drops per dose. 

How to take CBD for fibromyalgia pain relief  – forms

CBD can be taken as an extract, consumed orally by adding to food or drinks, taken in capsules, applied topically (to the skin), used as an oil for vaping, inhaled via a vape pen or vaporizer. It can also be added to creams and lotions.

The best method of CBD ingestion depends on what you need it for. If you want pain relief but do not want to feel the high associated with medical marijuana, vaping CBD oil is recommended.

If you want anti-inflammatory effects or relief from nausea and vomiting, taking it orally as an extract may be best. Inhaling cannabis vapor through a vape pen is becoming popular for those who need immediate pain relief but do not have time to eat foods containing extracts.

Some people prefer to take CBD before bed so they can sleep better. Topical applications may reduce pain and inflammation in some cases, but more research is needed about the best method of application for fibromyalgia relief.

If you are looking for ongoing relief from fibromyalgia symptoms then an oil, which stays in the system 6-8 hours taken 3 times a day is ideal. However if you are overwhelmed by pain and need swift relief, smoking or vaping may be better. CBD taken this way is absorbed into the body rapidly. Many people feel the effects in just 2 minutes. It is also highly efficient. The downside is that the effect is short lived, and in 20 minutes the effects may have worn off.

Side effects and precautions that need to be taken when using CBD for fibromyalgia 

CBD has few side effects, but research on its long-term safety is still in progress. It can alter liver function tests, which are sometimes used to check for damage during fibromyalgia treatment with prescription drugs like Lyrica (pregabalin). CBD may make the drug less effective.

A few possible side effects of CBD are fatigue, diarrhea or changes in appetite.

CBD is not addictive and does not cause the high associated with marijuana use when consumed at appropriate doses for medical purposes. However, it can interfere with how quickly other drugs are metabolized by the liver’s enzymes which may alter their effect. This should be considered if you are using CBD for fibromyalgia whilst taking other medications.

CBD oil should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with liver disorders or anyone younger than 18 years old without consulting a medical professional first. If you are considering CBD oil as an alternative for prescription drugs like Lyrica (pregabalin) or Cymbalta (duloxetine) for fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor first.

CBD can be used alongside prescription drugs if approved by a medical professional and monitored carefully. It is vital that you discuss any changes in medication with your doctor and continue to monitor your fibromyalgia symptoms while taking CBD oil.

regular exercise can help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms

Additional ways to relieve your symptoms with other treatments or therapies

Although CBD seems to be beneficial for pain relief, it may be more effective in combination with other treatments. In some cases, people have found that combining CBD with massage therapy or other forms of physical therapy helps them manage their symptoms better than using either treatment alone.

Other ways of managing symptoms are:

  • reducing stress
  • getting enough sleep
  • exercising regularly

These strategies can help reduce pain levels as well as boost the immune system for better overall health.

FAQs about using CBD for fibromyalgia 

I think I have fibromyalgia. What should I do?

1. Get a complete diagnosis

2. Find the right CBD dosage for you

3. Take care of your mental health 

4. Eat healthily and exercise regularly 

5. Consider alternative medicine such as acupuncture or massage therapy 

6. Seek professional help if necessary, like a therapist or psychiatrist to manage your stress levels and anxiety

How do you deal with severe fibromyalgia pain?

One way to deal with severe pain is by using CBD oil. It is a great natural alternative to prescription medication. CBD oil has been shown to help with chronic pain, headaches, cramps, anxiety attacks, acne, and other forms of skin issues. This is why it is so popular today.

How much CBD should I take for fibromyalgia pain?

The best way to find out how much CBD oil you should take is by starting with a small dosage. You can then increase it gradually until you feel the desired effect. The recommended dosage is usually between one drop and eight droppers full.

How fast does CBD oil work for fibromyalgia?

The time it takes for you to feel anything from CBD will depend on what product you buy and how often you take it. CBD oil absorbs into the body as it goes through your digestive system. The effects can last from two to twelve hours depending on how much you take and your body weight.


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