How to use cbd oil for fibromyalgia

CBD for Fibromyalgia

Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

David Ozeri, MD, is a board-certified rheumatologist. He is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he does research at Sheba Medical Center. Previously, he practiced at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

CBD oil is getting a lot of popular attention as a potential treatment for fibromyalgia. So far, we don’t have a lot of research on it, but we do have some — and it’s promising.  

Still, a lot of people don’t really understand what CBD oil is or how it works, and it tends to be wrapped up in the controversy over medical marijuana. That can make people hesitant to try it. There’s also a lot of confusion over whether it’s legal—but there are also some positive changes on that subject.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD stands for “cannabidiol,” which comes from the cannabis plant. Yes, the cannabis plant is where we get marijuana. However, CBD oil doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, which means it doesn’t get you high.  

The substance responsible for the high associated with marijuana comes from a different substance, which is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol.) Growers who want to maximize the plant’s high use breeds and techniques that focus on higher THC levels. Meanwhile, cannabis that’s grown for hemp is generally richer in CBD than THC, and that’s where CBD is derived from.

CBD that’s extracted from cannabis is being used for a lot of medical purposes, and you can find a lot of impressive-sounding claims online. Are they true? From a scientific standpoint, the answers are more like “possibly” and “some of them appear to be” than a firm “yes,” and it depends on which claims you’re looking at.

People are using CBD oil for a lot of different medical purposes, including:

  • Chronic pain and inflammation
  • Pain from glaucoma
  • Epilepsy, especially in children  
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Movement problems from Huntington’s disease
  • Assistance with smoking cessation
  • Stopping the growth of cancerous tumors

As of mid-2018, CBD oil is not FDA-approved for any conditions. Research in the United States is in the early stages, though, since for decades, legal restrictions made it extremely difficult to study the medical benefits of marijuana or any of its components.   We may see applications submitted to the agency as research continues to move forward.

CBD oil is used in various ways. You can smoke it, swallow capsules, use it under the tongue, in spray or drop form, and topically.

Research for Fibromyalgia

General CBD research is in its infancy, so research on CBD for fibromyalgia could be considered embryonic. We just don’t have much to go on right now. A 2016 survey of the literature concluded that there’s not enough evidence to recommend any cannabis-based treatments for fibromyalgia or other rheumatic conditions.

However, this topic is likely to get a lot of future attention, for several reasons.

First, we have a pain epidemic in the U.S., and fibromyalgia is a major contributor to that. Current treatments just aren’t good enough for most of us, so there’s an enormous financial incentive to find something that’s better at relieving our pain and other symptoms.

We also have an opioid addiction and overdose epidemic. Studies have demonstrated that when a state legalizes marijuana, the number of opioid prescriptions drops . That’s good news for healthcare providers looking for safer pain treatments, law enforcement agencies struggling to control the tide of illegal opioid use, and lawmakers looking for solutions to the opioid problem.

CBD oil is believed to be effective against pain and inflammation, and, in its pure form, it’s generally regarded as safe.

Finally, while anecdotal evidence certainly isn’t scientific proof of anything, we have an abundance of it from people with fibromyalgia who say CBD helps them, and you can bet that when patients who have hard-to-treat conditions tell their healthcare providers something works, it piques their interest.

As for the scientific motivations behind further study, consider that CBD is believed to help relieve:

  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
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When it comes to fibromyalgia symptoms, those three are significant.

A 2017 paper published in Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets suggested CBD as a possible way to diminish the activity of brain cells called glia, which leads to central sensitization. That’s a major feature of fibromyalgia and other central sensitivity syndromes such as chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraine.

Fibromyalgia also involves something called endocannabinoid deficiency. That’s the system that deals with your body’s natural endocannabinoids as well as cannabis products that you may take in. That makes cannabis products a promising treatment.

A 2016 review published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found evidence that CBD is effective in migraine and irritable bowel syndrome, which are related to fibromyalgia. It also stated that some cannabis-based treatments appeared effective for fibromyalgia. The authors stated that CBD is often preferable to patients due to the high and other effects associated with THC.

Some have suggested that CBD can fight inflammation. Fibromyalgia isn’t currently classified as an inflammatory condition, but research suggests that at least some cases may involve inflammation of a body-wide web of connective tissue called the fascia. If that’s accurate, it could be one more reason CBD should be considered.

Side Effects

We don’t have a full picture of the possible side effects of CBD. Some reported side effects include:  

  • Changes to liver enzymes used to process drugs
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased tremor in Parkinson’s disease, at high doses

These effects are possible but require more study, according to the World Health Organization:

  • Alteration of hormonal levels
  • Immune system stimulation at low levels, and immune suppression at higher levels

Addiction and abuse don’t appear to be problems with CBD, and it appears to have a low toxicity level meaning that it takes a lot to overdose.

Is CBD Oil Legal?

You’d think the question, “Is CBD legal?” would be answerable with a simple yes or no. It hasn’t been, and while it’s getting easier to answer that question, it’s still not cut-and-dried (nor is the question of whether or not CBD oil can result in a positive drug test).

You’ve long been able to find a lot of claims by hemp growers and CBD sellers that their product is legal in all 50 states as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. However, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling disagreed.

Enter the 2018 Farm Bill. This piece of legislation was wildly popular in both the Senate, where it was passed in June of 2018, and the House, where it was passed in December of 2018   and signed into law soon after. It re-classified hemp as a legal agricultural product, which makes CBD products legal at the federal level.

In states where marijuana and/or CBD is legal, there’s no longer a clash between state and federal law. That’s a win for those wanting to take CBD products medicinally.

However, some states have specific laws on the books banning hemp products. So what does the Farm Bill mean for those states?

Technically, federal law overrules state law. That doesn’t mean that those states will stop arresting and trying people on CBD charges, though, especially if they want to challenge the new federal law. If you’re in one of those states, be safe and talk to an expert about any possible trouble you could get into for using CBD products.

The website ProCon.org has information about which states have laws specific to CBD oil. A site called Governing maintains a map of where marijuana is legal in some form.

A Word From Verywell

Certainly, you have a lot to consider when it comes to any treatment, and even more so when it comes to CBD. Consider the pros and cons—including the legal ones—carefully. Be sure to discuss this option with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re safe, and, as with any treatment, watch for side effects.

With legal changes in-store and more research coming, expect things to change rapidly when it comes to CBD oil and other cannabis-based treatments. We’ll likely know a great deal more about the effectiveness and safety of these products a few years from now.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Using CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia affects about 10 million Americans . The condition is incurable, but there are treatments for managing pain.

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Research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) can benefit those suffering from fibromyalgia and other health issues. Continue reading to learn about using CBD oil for fibromyalgia. You can visit The Cannabis Radar to get the best CBD oil for fibromyalgia, for others, please keep reading the article.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition. A person with FM feels pain throughout their muscles and bones, and fatigue. Symptoms include:

  • Low pain threshold
  • Insomnia
  • Tenderness
  • Burning sensation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle tightness or spasms
  • Headaches or general aching
  • Foggy cognition
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Some people may experience inflammation, but fibromyalgia doesn’t involve tissue damage.

Causes

While no one knows what causes FM, we have some ideas. It could be genetic or from trauma, such as an illness or injury. The spinal cord and brain may process pain differently.

Someone is more likely to have FM if they:

  • have other pain conditions
  • have a mood disorder
  • aren’t physically active
  • are female
  • have been abused
  • have/had PTSD

An endocannabinoid deficiency could be the problem. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for responding to cannabis. The system helps regulate mood, pain and sensation, memory, and appetite.

A lack of receptors in this system would explain the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Treatments

There is a variety of treatments for fibromyalgia. They usually consist of medication, mental health management, and implementing physically healthy habits.

So far, the FDA has approved three medicines for FM. They are Lyrica, Savella, and Cymbalta.

Other medicines that are suggested to some are non-opiate pain killers like NSAIDs. These are over-the-counter unless a high dose is prescribed. There are medicines that can treat specific symptoms.

Anti-depressants and psychotherapy help manage the anxiety and depression that can come with having fibromyalgia. Joining a support group may be beneficial.

Getting a good night’s sleep often provides pain relief. Here are some ways to make sure you sleep well.

Don’t nap. If you have to, only nap for an hour. Starting moving right when you wake up.

Fall asleep and wake up at the same time. Setting an alarm is a good idea.

Don’t have alcohol or caffeine in the evening. Don’t have spicy foods or liquids before bed.

Engage in exercise that’s regular and at least three hours before bed. Set a schedule and use a timer.

Sleep in a quiet, cool, and dark room. Make sure you’re relaxed when you go to bed. Take a bath, have some tea, do yoga or meditate, or listen to soothing music.

Don’t watch TV or use anything with a screen. The light will keep you awake longer.

Alternative treatments for FM include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, physical therapy, aromatherapy, and chiropractic sessions.

Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol is a compound derived from marijuana. CBD can’t get you high, as it doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) like marijuana. Only a small percentage of people feel euphoric effects similar to those of marijuana.

THC causes negative mood changes such as anxiety and paranoia. CBD reduces these effects.

CBD also activates the endocannabinoid system. This helps improve the body’s response to pain among other benefits, making it a possible treatment for many conditions involving pain. It’s a promising alternative to opioids because CBD isn’t addictive.

CBD has been used to treat mood disorders, schizophrenia, insomnia. cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other conditions.

This treatment was FDA-approved for epilepsy in 2018. The medicine is called Epidiolex. Specifically, it’s used to treat people of 2 years and older with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.

CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia

Research on CBD oil for pain relief in FM patients is ongoing. There are only a few studies to look at currently.

Studies have suggested that CBD reduces glial cell activity. Over-activity of these cells causes increased reaction to sensation. This is a symptom of fibromyalgia.

There is evidence that CBD can effectively treat irritable bowel syndrome and migraines. These are central sensitivity syndromes like fibromyalgia.

Some FM patients have inflammation, and research suggests that CBD can reduce inflammation. CBD also diminishes endocannabinoid deficiency, a problem of those with FM.

Many CBD oil users have reported relief of pain, insomnia, muscle tension, and anxiety. These are all FM symptoms.

A 2011 study found that cannabis had multiple benefits for fibromyalgia patients. They felt more relaxed, sleepy, and had less pain and muscle tension.

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Another study supported CBD as a treatment for neuropathic pain. As mentioned before, CBD may reduce or eliminate an endocannabinoid deficiency. This explains why the drug alleviates pain.

More research is needed to understand the effectiveness of CBD on FM. While some studies support CBD, others do not. The results are mixed because it’s difficult to control every variable.

The laws around CBD and marijuana make it hard to find quality doses of them. Researchers have trouble controlling the potency and dosage of both drugs. Some studies are more subjective than objective.

CBD for fibromyalgia brings relief to those who rely on opioid medications. These medicines are legal, but people can easily become addicted to them. CBD is non-addictive.

How to Use

There are a variety of ways to use CBD. Smoking or vaping brings immediate pain relief that lasts up to three hours. People with respiratory issues shouldn’t intake CBD this way.

CBD oil comes as a tincture, cream, and pill. Creams are especially good for inflammation and tender areas on the body.

Tinctures are extracts that can be put directly into the mouth or mixed with food or a drink. They’re usually in a dropper bottle, making it a discreet medication for those who need it during the day. This method gives four to five hours of relief and activates in about thirty minutes.

Tinctures can come in spray form. The oil is meant to be sprayed under the tongue.

CBD can be ingested through foods, butter, or oil. It takes longer for the drug to relieve pain, but it lasts for up to six hours.

Be sure to take the correct CBD dosage. Going over the prescribed dose is unlikely to endanger you, but it won’t work effectively. High doses can cause confusion and sleepiness.

Purchasing CBD

To ensure quality and the appropriate potency, purchase CBD from dispensaries and places that have had the product tested by others. The container the CBD comes in should have a warning section, an FDA disclaimer, and a batch number. You should also be able to find out what the specific ingredients are.

It’s safer to buy CBD (and really any medication) in-store. In-store grocers typically have an investigative process implemented. Still, you should research the company you’re going to get the CBD from.

Make sure you know whether your medication is an isolate CBD or full-spectrum. Isolate CBD is CBD by itself. Full-spectrum CBD is a combination of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids such as cannabigerol or cannabidivarin.

This mixed CBD has stronger effects than isolate CBD. Taking it would require a much lower dose compared to taking CBD alone.

Side Effects

Like with any drug, CBD works differently for everyone. Some may not have any problems and others may experience side effects. Symptoms can include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite

CBD inhibits cytochrome p450, enzymes that assist in breaking down drugs in the liver. Be cautious about taking CBD with medicines that warn about eating grapefruit. You may want to avoid eating grapefruit while on CBD.

Ask your doctor about using CBD to avoid negative interactions with your current medications.

Legality

According to The Hemp Farming Act in the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is legal on the federal level. This applies to CBD derived from hemp. Hemp is any cannabis plant that has less than 0.3% THC.

CBD made from marijuana has higher levels of THC, and is not federally legal. It’s only legal in states that have legalized marijuana.

The only FDA-approved CBD medicine, Epidiolex, is derived from marijuana. If a child suffering from epilepsy and lives in a state where cannabis is illegal, they can’t legally obtain Epidiolex. This shows how laws can work against each other.

CBD Is Beneficial

Although fibromyalgia isn’t curable, research is gathering evidence in support of CBD for fibromyalgia symptom relief. Conducting more studies will help us pinpoint how CBD works and get it FDA-approved. The legality of hemp-derived CBD has helped make this possible.

If you decide to try CBD for fibromyalgia, be aware that it could be illegal where you are if it’s marijuana-derived. Most people get the best results by combining the drug with other treatments.