Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood illness with no cure and very few effective treatment options. If you suffer from this painful and exhausting condition, you might be wondering if CBD oil can offer you some natural relief. Lots of fibro sufferers claim that it does exactly that, so let’s take a look at the evidence and find out if CBD oil really can help with fibromyalgia…
What is fibromyalgia?
The NHS defines fibromyalgia as “a long-term illness that causes pain all over the body”. The pain can be intense and is often accompanied by other symptoms like:
- Increased pain sensitivity.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Stiff, achy and/or cramping muscles.
- Difficulties with memory, focus and other cognitive functions (AKA “fibro fog”).
- Emotional difficulties, anxiety and/or depression.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Some fibromyalgia sufferers find that their symptoms fluctuate, while others find themselves in constant pain. A “flare-up” of extra-intense symptoms can be triggered by things like stress or illness, leaving them feeling debilitated for days or weeks on end.
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you probably know how frustrating diagnosis and treatment are. There’s no test to confirm that a person does or doesn’t have fibromyalgia, so it’s usually diagnosed only when every other possible cause has been ruled out. Unfortunately, some medical professionals are still sceptical, suspicious or dismissive of people claiming to have the condition. And even if you do get a diagnosis, there’s no cure; all they can do is try to manage the symptoms.
It’s no wonder, then, that people are taking matters into their own hands and seeking out natural fibromyalgia solutions like CBD oil. If you’re new to CBD, here’s a quick overview…
What is CBD oil?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a type of compound called a cannabinoid. It’s found in the hemp plant, along with around 120 other cannabinoids and other natural substances like vitamins, fatty acids, flavonoids and terpenes. CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant and blended with a carrier oil, like hemp or MCT, to make CBD oil.
Your body also makes its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. They’re part of a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates important processes like sleep, pain and appetite to keep your body in a state of balance. Your endocannabinoids are the chemical messengers that keep the ECS running smoothly, interacting with endocannabinoid receptors around the body to trigger certain actions. External cannabinoids, like CBD, can also act on your body’s ECS receptors, triggering similar effects.
Can CBD oil help with fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, which is another word for a collection of symptoms without an established cause. So while it’s impossible to say whether CBD oil can treat fibromyalgia itself, it may help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
CBD oil and fibro pain
Pain is one of the more debilitating fibromyalgia symptoms. Lots of people report that CBD oil reduces the intensity of their fibro pain, with one survey finding that as many as 94% of respondents had stopped or reduced their pain medications. They said that CBD offered them better symptom management, without the side effects and abuse risk of commonly prescribed medications like opioids and benzodiazepines.
From a scientific perspective, the evidence isn’t quite so clear. CBD is known to relieve pain from inflammation, muscle spasms and nerve problems by interacting with the ECS, just like your endocannabinoids do. Because of this, researchers believe that it can help with other chronic pain conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and arthritis. In fact, the US Arthritis Foundation recently updated its treatment guidelines to include CBD.
Can CBD oil help with fibro pain, though? Very few CBD studies have focused specifically on fibromyalgia pain so far, but the authors of this review looked the available evidence and concluded that CBD looks like a promising pain relief option for fibro sufferers. Several other studies, like this one and this one, show that medical cannabis containing CBD appears to be effective for people with fibromyalgia (although it’s worth noting that they didn’t single out CBD as the cause).
CBD oil and other fibro symptoms
Not surprisingly, lots of people who battle fibromyalgia pain also suffer from anxiety and sleep difficulties. Both can make the pain feel worse, which can trap you in a vicious cycle. So can CBD oil help with anxiety and insomnia too?
A large scientific review found that CBD reduced anxiety in a number of related conditions, and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse points to several more studies that have shown that CBD reduces the signs of anxiety. Another study theorised that CBD calms the limbic system, the area of your brain that controls how you react to emotional stimuli. Yet another study showed that CBD can calm the central nervous system and improve both anxiety and sleep.
Given that anxiety and pain both make it harder to sleep, it makes sense that relieving one or both could help you to get a better night’s sleep. In this review, the authors said that CBD may be a promising treatment for certain sleep disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness, a struggle every fibro sufferer will know all too well.
Which CBD oil is best for fibromyalgia?
Remember all of those compounds found in the hemp plant? When you take a CBD oil that has all of those compounds – the cannabinoids, vitamins, fatty acids, terpenes, flavonoids and so on – they work together to enhance each other’s benefits. This is called the entourage effect.
A full-spectrum CBD oil has all of these compounds, just as nature intended. Broad-spectrum oils contain everything but THC, the cannabinoid that gets you high when you smoke cannabis. (But don’t worry – even full-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t contain enough to get you high!)
If you just want pure CBD, a CBD isolate is the way to go. You won’t get the added benefits of the entourage effect, but you’ll get a more intense, targeted dose of CBD.
How long does CBD oil take to work?
CBD oil is taken sublingually, or under the tongue. You put a few drops under your tongue, and then the CBD oil is absorbed directly into your bloodstream via the sublingual blood vessels. This is one of the quickest ways to take CBD, with the effects kicking in after around 30 minutes.
Is it safe to take CBD oil with fibromyalgia medication?
Most prescription drugs are metabolised in the liver by a specific family of enzymes. CBD oil can affect how these enzymes work.
CBD slows some enzymes down, which means your medication will stay in your system for longer. When you take your next dose, you may have too much medication in your system, putting you at risk of increased side effects. It speeds other enzymes up, which means your medication is metabolised faster and may wear off before your next dose.
Of course, both outcomes can be dangerous! So if you’re taking medications for fibromyalgia, or for any other medical condition, it’s best to speak with your doctor before you take CBD oil. And if you’re thinking of replacing a medication with CBD oil altogether, make sure to ask your doctor how it can be done safely and work together to manage the transition.
Where can I buy CBD oil?
We’ve got a wide range of high-quality, lab-tested CBD oils here at CBD Shopy, with full-spectrum and broad-spectrum options available. You can find some of the most commonly asked questions about CBD here. Anything we haven’t covered? We’d love to hear from you so get in touch here!