Imagine a life constantly in pain. Throw in some extreme tiredness, plus feeling like your whole body is on fire, and that is a roundabout description of fibromyalgia. Not surprisingly many sufferers also experience low mood, depression and anxiety as their once active lives become a living hell. More often than not the cocktail of drugs prescribed fail to keep symptoms in check and are accompanied by hard to bear side effects. So increasingly, many fibromyalgia patients are turning to natural remedies, in particular, CBD.
Fibromyalgia: A Mysterious, Modern Disease
Twenty years ago, fibromyalgia was almost unheard of, but now it’s the most common diagnosis in American rheumatology practices affecting roughly 10 million people in the US alone. The disease is more prevalent in women, although why, nobody really knows. Nor is it clear why fibromyalgia comes on in the first place. A link between stress has been suggested but hasn’t been proven. So, on the whole, the condition remains a mystery, with the medical profession rather fumbling around in the dark.
A common consensus is that fibromyalgia patients share an oversensitivity to pain, because of increased sensory processing. Many also suffer from other conditions such as migraines, IBS and chronic fatigue. So, while getting a fibromyalgia diagnosis is not exactly a death sentence, it could be considered more like life imprisonment, with the odds of early release fairly low.
CBD – Creating a Stir in Fibromyalgia Forums
But enter any fibromyalgia forum and one natural therapy is causing quite a stir: CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is generating a lot of attention, with some patients saying they’ve managed to come off all their meds thanks to the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.
Reducing pain and inflammation are two of the more accepted therapeutic benefits of CBD, but to really get to grips with why CBD oil for fibromyalgia is causing such as ripple of excitement, we must look towards the body’s endocannabinoid system, the homeostatic regulator that keeps us in balance.
Can a Deficient Endocannabinoid System Explain Fibromyalgia?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors and cannabis-like chemicals that, when functioning optimally, regulates sleep, pain and inflammation, appetite, our immune system, mood, and reproduction. It’s been linked to a dimmer switch, upregulating and downregulating the body’s biological activity in order maintain equilibrium and health.
As with other systems in the body, our ECS doesn’t always operate like a well-oiled machine. Researchers have observed both excessive and depleted endocannabinoids levels associated with certain pathologies. Although in the case of increased endocannabinoid activity, it isn’t always clear whether it is the cause of a disease or the body acting to heal itself.
What Does Research Tell Us?
This does not take away from the growing body of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, to suggest that Phyto cannabinoids found in the hemp plant do have a therapeutic effect on symptoms of fibromyalgia. One questionnaire-based study published from 2011 compared the experiences of fibromyalgia patients who were regular CBD users with those who didn’t use the plant. The study found “a statistically significant reduction of pain and stiffness, enhancement of relaxation, and an increase in somnolence and feeling of wellbeing.”