Medical marijuana has been shown to help treat many different symptoms and health conditions, ranging from cancer to HIV/AIDS to arthritis and many more. Therefore, it should be no surprise that individuals suffering from fibromyalgia are turning to medical marijuana for relief. In this article, we will go over what fibromyalgia is, how medical marijuana can help, and where research on marijuana and its derivatives are heading.
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and are in need of a Florida marijuana doctor, the DocMJ team is here to help! Start the process of becoming a legal Florida medical marijuana patient today by completing our online eligibility survey. Next, simply schedule your in-person exam at one of our 22 locations state-wide!
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a very common disease in the United States. It is marked by widespread pain that can last for months or longer and fatigue. Generally, those with fibromyalgia may also experience headaches, cognitive problems, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, TMJ, and digestive problems. People of any age and gender can have the condition, but there are several risk factors that increase the chances of developing fibromyalgia. Most cases occur as people age and those with a family history of fibromyalgia, or those diagnosed with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop the condition as well.
The cause of fibromyalgia is still largely unknown, but researchers and physicians have developed several hypotheses. A genetic cause has been shown in several studies, specifically showing serotonin transporter and receptor genes as potential candidates for further research . Major traumas have also been linked to fibromyalgia. Several stress-linked conditions are often diagnosed alongside fibromyalgia, showing there may be a psychological component as well. This is compounded by some studies linking major depression and fibromyalgia.
Due to the chronic nature of the condition, fibromyalgia can affect many areas of a person’s life. Pain and fatigue can lower a person’s performance and mood both professionally and personally. For more information on fibromyalgia, please visit the NIAMS (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases).
How Can Medical Marijuana Help?
In the past, marijuana has been used to treat pain, depression, and many of the other symptoms of fibromyalgia. How it can treat fibromyalgia directly, though, may be a different story. Traditionally, people diagnosed with fibromyalgia may undergo physical therapy to help manage the pain, and some anti-seizure medications have also been shown to help a small number of people. Some patients have also been prescribed opioids, despite some of the unwanted side effects.
It has been suggested that many diseases and conditions may cause, or be caused by, an endocannabinoid deficiency. This means that the body does not produce enough of its natural cannabinoids. These cannabinoids may play a role in blocking pain and other mechanisms seen in these diseases and conditions . It has also been thought that cannabinoids reduce sensitivity to pain through certain pathways and may even change the way pain is processed .
From these studies, it is easy to see how medical marijuana may be able to help those diagnosed with fibromyalgia, both by acting as a stand-in for the endocannabinoids that may be lacking and by raising the user’s pain threshold. Unfortunately, rigorous scientific research on the effects of marijuana on fibromyalgia is still lacking and a clear answer has not been found. The results we do have, however, are deserving of a closer look.
Overall, medical marijuana does seem to help increase the quality of life of those with fibromyalgia . In a recent 2019 article, researchers compared standard pain-relieving therapy to pain-relieving therapy combined with medical marijuana . The study found that all 31 patients showed an improvement in all areas, specifically in lower back pain and range of motion. In another scientific review, researchers found a significant improvement in pain, sleep disturbances, stiffness, mood, and anxiety . In the same study, sixty-eight percent of patients were able to reduce their intake of other pharmaceutical drugs after they began using marijuana.
If you are looking for specific strains to help treat fibromyalgia, consider the sativa strain Harlequin, which contains both CBD and THC. THC has been shown to help with headaches, common in those with fibromyalgia, and CBD can help with neuropathic pain and inflammation, and can also help curb THC’s high. Other high-CBD strains include ACDC and Redwood Kush.
Where is Research Heading?
A very large number of researchers have started to study marijuana to find uses in both curing and relieving diseases. One of the largest targets of this is the synthesizing of cannabinoids found in marijuana. Of these, CBD and THC are the most common targets.
Synthetic THC has already hit the market. The FDA has approved Marinol, a drug containing dronabinol, itself synthetic variant of THC, to treat CINV. Synthetic CBD is still being researched, though many biotech and pharmaceutical companies are racing to create it.
These synthetic forms can bind to cannabinoid receptors much faster than natural cannabinoids and can be altered to bind to specific places in the body. From this, scientists may be able to create drugs containing synthetic cannabinoids specific to each use-case, including possibly fibromyalgia.
Overall, the research surrounding medical marijuana and fibromyalgia is promising. If you suffer from fibromyalgia and have more questions about treating your symptoms with medical marijuana, speak with a DocMJ Patient Care Coordinator today at (888) 908.0143.