Ten years ago, no one was talking about fibromyalgia. Fast-forward to the future where now, some 5 million people (mostly women) suffer from this often-debilitating condition. Known to cause widespread pain and fatigue that makes even the simplest of tasks feel strenuous, fibromyalgia can seriously disrupt a person’s quality of life.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Although still not fully understood, fibromyalgia is thought to be an intricate neurological disorder. Symptoms are often confused with those of arthritis, but fibromyalgia causes soft tissue pain rather than muscle or joint inflammation.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Widespread, chronic pain throughout the entire body
- Stiffness in the joints
- Chronic fatigue
- Painful menstrual cycles
- Problems with memory and concentration (known as “fibro fog”)
Causes of Fibromyalgia: Could Endocannabinoid Imbalance Be to Blame?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia isn’t clear. As more researched is gathered however, it’s believed there are a handful of risk factors that can contribute to it. These include:
- A traumatic or particularly stressful event
- Recurring injuries over time
- Genetic predisposition and/or the way our genes process pain
- Problems within the central nervous system
There is also another suspected cause of fibromyalgia. Dr. Ethan Russo is a well-known neurologist who has spent most of his career researching cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. Russo has suggested that the cause of fibromyalgia could be directly related to a person’s endocannabinoid system.
He believes that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) is to blame for fibromyalgia. The primary function of the endocannabinoid system is to assist the body in maintaining a stable environment.
When balanced by using cannabinoids, a person experiences general overall wellbeing. When the endocannabinoid system is out of balance however, a host of health issues occur. Including several of those associated with fibromyalgia. Pain, muscle stiffness, changes in mood, and problems with sleep are all associated with an unhealthy endocannabinoid system.
FDA-Approved Meds Don’t Treat Fibromyalgia as Good as Medical Marijuana
Fibromyalgia is typically treated with a cocktail of prescription medications. Antidepressants, anti-seizure meds, and painkillers are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. A growing body of evidence suggests that using medical marijuana for fibromyalgia could actually work better than prescription medication.
It makes sense. If the endocannabinoid system is out of whack, cannabis will bring it back to balance. A survey conducted on over 1,300 fibromyalgia patients found that 30 percent of respondents already used medical cannabis to manage symptoms of pain. 62 percent of them reported cannabis to be “very effective” in managing pain. 33 percent said cannabis helped “a little”, while only 5 percent said it didn’t help at all.
In the same survey, participants reported how FDA-approved fibromyalgia meds worked. Only 8-10 percent reported that Savella, Lyrica, or Cymbalta (the three drugs approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia) were “very effective.” On the flip side, 60-68 percent reported they did “not help at all.”
People Praise Medical Cannabis for Helping Relieve Debilitating Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Medical cannabis has shown to be one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. While 70 percent of those surveyed hadn’t tried medical marijuana, those that had reported it worked better than anything they’d previously tried.
According to one survey respondent, they had found “nothing has worked for me, apart from marijuana.”
Another person who took part in the survey reported, “Nothing but medical marijuana has made the greatest dent in the pain and mental problems.”
As more information surfaces about the benefits of medical marijuana for fibromyalgia, more people can find the relief they need. When FDA-approved meds aren’t working (and medical marijuana is), for many the choice is clear. As more states legalize medical marijuana and allow more treatable conditions, perhaps more people that suffer from fibromyalgia will no longer have to endure their pain.
Have you used medical marijuana for fibromyalgia? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.