For the estimated 2% to 4% of the global population who suffer from this condition, the majority of whom are women, there is an increasing interest in alternative therapies that may provide relief from the symptoms. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is currently attracting attention as an alternative form of treatment.
In 2018, research was published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology suggesting medicinal cannabis may represent an effective treatment for the illness.
There is also a solid body of evidence that indicates CBD may provide alleviation for certain symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, such as pain, sleep disruptions, anxiety, and depression.
The pain-relieving effects of CBD may be explained by the ways that this substance affects the brain. It may interrupt the nerve pathways that send signals of pain between the brain and the body.
There is also an anti-inflammatory action of CBD that would reduce heat and swelling around injury or disease. This, in turn. would reduce pain.
The brain is one of the key areas affected by fibromyalgia, with brain inflammation contributing to pain and brain fog. Recent researchsuggests that microglia in the brain and spinal cord play a role in fibromyalgia. When glial cells become activated, they can contribute to inflammation by amplifying pain signaling and transmission.
CB2 receptors within the body can modulate microglial cell function. One 2016 study in the Swiss journal Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences suggested that therapeutic strategies aimed at CB2 receptors could provide a promising treatment for inflammation. The therapeutic effects of CBD on inflammation have been documented in a range of studies, such as one published in 2015 in the Elsevier journal Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.
In addition, CBD has been shown to offer neuroprotective properties and stimulate cell repair in the brain. This could improve brain function in fibromyalgia patients. CBD oil may also diminish anxiety and depressive behaviors by boosting anandamide signaling, according to a 2012 study published in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that facilitates homeostasis and balanced mood.
In addition to helping to ease inflammation in the body, CBD oil can reduce neuropathic pain, which arises from damaged or malfunctioning nerves. Some fibromyalgia sufferers experience neuropathic pain as one of their symptoms.
A 2016 study suggested that a lack of endocannabinoids — neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors — may be at the root of chronic pain syndromes, including migraines and fibromyalgia. Taking CBD may correct this deficiency, explaining the compound's success in alleviating chronic pain.
Dr. George Habib is the co-author of a 2018 retrospective review study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology investigating medical cannabis as a treatment for fibromyalgia and believes it offers fibromyalgia patients hope. ”In general, the impression (from the study) was that this type of medication is more effective than pregabalin and duloxetine,” Habib said.
While there is a still a need for larger randomized trials, Habib, a rheumatologist in Netanya, Israel, believes that the research is promising and that it is worth trying medicinal cannabis for fibromyalgia soon after diagnosis, rather than considering it as an option when opioids fail.