Ohio Medical Marijuana Patients Share Their Fibromyalgia Stories
As one of the 22 qualifying conditions approved for medical marijuana in Ohio, fibromyalgia sufferers across the state have a new option for treatment. Fibromyalgia was added as one of the initial conditions that the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program included in 2019. This step paved the way for many Ohio fibromyalgia patients to start seeing some new results with their cannabis treatment.
Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia often experience muscle and joint pain and fatigue. These symptoms can be mild for some patients, but for others can be debilitating enough to negatively affect their quality of life.
Can Cannabis Help Patients with Fibromyalgia?
The research is a bit scarce, but the scientific evidence that does exist that correlates fibromyalgia and cannabis is very promising. One study compared the effects of the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone with a placebo, finding the nabilone to have significant pain-relieving effects. A 2011 study involving 28 participants who used cannabis for fibromyalgia resulted with nearly half of patients reporting strong pain relief, some reporting mild pain relief, and the remaining 7 percent reporting no difference in their pain symptoms.
Beyond Ohio, only a few other states with medical marijuana programs specifically include fibromyalgia as a qualifying condition (Arkansas, North Dakota are two of those). The majority of states with medical marijuana programs (Missouri, Pennsylvania, for instance) do not specifically include fibromyalgia, although co-occurring autoimmune disorders and chronic pain diagnoses can often qualify fibro patients for their card.
Cannabis Patients Weigh Risks Versus Pharmaceutical Medicine
Cannabis is an especially attractive choice for patients who have responded badly to pharmaceutical alternatives like Cymbalta and Lyrica. The side effects of these medications can be a deciding factor for many patients.
We asked some Ohio patients who got their medical marijuana card to treat their fibromyalgia to tell us a little bit about how they are doing now. Two years into using their medicine as cardholders of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, here’s what they shared:
Jennifer C.’s Fibro Story
Jennifer started treating her fibro with medical cannabis at the beginning of Ohio’s medical marijuana program in 2019. This is her third year enrolled in the program, but prior to that she was using cbd tincture and flower.
Before starting medical marijuana, Jennifer was taking Xanax, lyrica, Mobic, gabapentin, muscle relaxers, many different vitamins, and nothing was helping. “I was always sore, always tired and spending a small fortune at the pharmacy,” she said.
Jennifer is grateful to have reduced/eliminated her dependence on pharmaceutical medicines due to her switch to cannabis. “I no longer take these medicines. Now my Xanax and muscle relaxers are in case of an emergency. I still use cbd and find relief with muscle rubs. I also take capsules of thc and cbn and use a tincture during the day in addition.”
Jennifer feels like cannabis is really helping her fibromyalgia. “I feel so much better! I am still in a lot of pain at times but the high thc flower is great at helping me manage my pain.”
Jennifer said she likes that she has lots of options for medicating when she selects products at the dispensary. Her favorite method is vaping flower. “Currently I’m enjoying some Ohio clean leaf watermelon cake. I use the pax 3, it’s very easy to use and clean up is simple. Recently I started using the pax era pods and it may be my new favorite. The flavor is much better than others. My favorite strains are anything cake.”
Elaine M.’s fibro story
Before she was a patient in Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Elaine was on prescribed pain pills for over ten years coupled with periodic injections. “I think I’ve been on every pain med made to man,” she told me. While she was never psychologically addicted to the pain pills, she said her body was. “My husband would have to make me take the pain meds because I didn’t like taking them. I am in pain 24/7, so I took them.”
Elaine found a doctor who helped her get off the medication. “It’s been three years since I have taken any pain medication. Still being in pain, I turned to Cannabis to see if it would help. I’ve been using medical marijuana for almost two years.”
Elaine noted that fibromyalgia brings with it tons of symptoms besides pain. “Some of the symptoms are insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, fibro fog, and the list goes on. My primary method of using Cannabis is vaping. The edibles do not work for me except for this one particular honey that is infused with marijuana. I usually stick with the Indica strain for its calming effects.”
Elaine said that cannabis helps her to calm down, and her anxiety does not play such a significant role in her day-to-day activities the way it used to. “It is nothing for me to be awake for 36 hours. Cannabis helps me go to sleep and stay asleep.”
Since she’s joined the medical marijuana program, Elaine reports her pain has been more manageable. “I don’t use it to get high. That is just a side effect that I don’t mind, but I use cannabis to live my life and not just survive my life. I am still exploring the different cannabis products because they have salves, tinctures, and other products that may work as well.”
Cannabis has been instrumental in helping Elaine cope with the stress of going back to school at age 69. She will graduate this August.
Carson N.’s Fibro Story
In addition to her fibromyalgia diagnosis, Carson has HHT, an inherited blood disorder and 8 genomic abnormalities. At age 7, she had her first concussion. At age 15, she had West Nile Encephalitis. “My brain swelled and after a spinal tap, I was diagnosed,” she explains. “I can’t absorb, metabolize, or expel medications and foods properly. My 5-HHTLPR gene causes depression. On top of all this it had been discovered I have a blood-borne parasite caused by a tick bite, 18 years ago.”
Carson has been going to the Cleveland Clinic since her brain AVM’S were discovered in 2018. Carson is grateful that five of her Cleveland Clinic doctors recommended cannabis to her. “They know my genomics. They know what is safe for me. Even Tylenol turns toxic in my system.
Carson struggles every day with pain and has been on disability for her fibromyalgia since 2015. It would be very confusing to “pop a pill”. The only relief I have is cannabis,” Carson said. Her chronic pain caused her to develop a CBD rub specifically for pain, called Eliot Ness Untouchable Rub. (Carson’s product pays homage to her family ties to the Prohibition agent known for his efforts to bring down Al Capone in the 1930s.) Find out more about Carson’s pain rub products here.
If you have fibromyalgia and would like to see if you qualify to try cannabis as a treatment for your condition, schedule an appointment with a DocMJ medical marijuana doctor today.
Author: Gabrielle Dion Visca
Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for DocMJ and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.