The chronic musculoskeletal condition, fibromyalgia can have far-reaching effects on every aspect of a patient’s life, but CBD provides welcome relief for many.
There are estimated to be around two million people with the fibromyalgia in the UK alone, the majority of them female.
Symptoms include low mood and extreme tiredness along with chronic musculoskeletal pain and there is no direct treatment, other than pain management.
However, research suggests CBD can ease many of the condition’s major symptoms where standard remedies have failed. Here, Cannabis Health looks at some of the ways CBD can improve quality of life for fibromyalgia patients.
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is the hallmark of fibromyalgia, and is a root cause of many of the other symptoms.
In a 2020 study of 102 patients, participants were prescribed two oil-diluted cannabis extracts and assessed periodically over six months, using standard fibromyalgia scoring techniques.
The use of the CBD was associated with a marked reduction of use of traditional painkillers; analgesic treatment was reduced or suspended in 47 per cent of the patients.
Unsurprisingly, fibromyalgia can lead to insomnia, while the ensuing tiredness, in turn, exacerbates the condition, leading to a vicious circle of pain and tiredness.
CBD can help, both by reducing the pain itself, and also by activating receptors in the part of the brain responsible for maintaining sleep cycles.
The above study also found that CBD improved quality of sleep for fibromyalgia sufferers, with nearly half reporting better quality of sleep. This led the researchers to conclude: “This observational study shows that adjunctive medical cannabis treatment offers a possible clinical advantage in fibromyalgia patients, especially in those with sleep dysfunctions.”
The effect of long-term sleep disturbances is, of course, fatigue, but studies also suggest that CBD can help with this.
While in higher quantities, CBD can aid relaxation and sleep, it can also work the other way round. At low concentrations, CBD is known to promote wakefulness and energy, strengthening the cells that cause sluggishness and improving focus and mental clarity.
Low mood and anxiety
Contending with long-term pain and sleeplessness, it’s not surprising that many fibromyalgia sufferers also report symptoms of depression; reports show them to be up to three times as likely as the general population to suffer with low mood and anxiety.
Here, CBD has been shown to help too – in fact, mental health is often cited as a key reason for use among all users, not just fibromyalgia patients.
Research has found that CBD is likely to have both anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, thought to be related to its positive effect on serotonin receptors in the brain.
Along with the tiredness and depression comes a specific condition known as ‘fibro fog’; a cognitive effect targeting memory and concentration.
While cannabis – which contains high levels of the psychoactive THC – has been associated with impaired cognitive function, studies have found that the use of CBD oil can actually help improve cognition.
With fibromyalgia having such far-reaching effects on every aspect of a patient’s life, CBD could offer welcome relief, easing all the key symptoms in a safe, non-addictive way.
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