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Can CBD help in treating rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia?



fibromyalgia patient
Cannabis has become a popular alternative to treat pain symptoms.

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Fibromyalgia patient Polly shares how CBD has helped alleviate her symptoms and the experts at Ardoa Organics explore the science behind it.

Cannabis has become a popular alternative to treat pain symptoms. Although scientific evidence surrounding the use of cannabinoids to control pain is sporadic, recent findings suggest cannabinoids may actually be beneficial in treating rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. 

Cannabinoids can activate cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptors throughout the body to decrease the production of chemical messengers secreted by immune cells and as a consequence, reduce inflammation. Furthermore, cannabidiol (CBD) can have antiarthritic effects independent of cannabinoid receptors. 

Apart from being able to control inflammation, cannabinoids can also reduce pain by activating central and peripheral CB1 and CB2 receptors, and CBD-sensitive non-cannabinoid receptor targets.

Cannabinoids may be a suitable treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, if we target the right receptors in the right place, and further studies should focus on determining the best combination of cannabinoids to be used.

Read more about the overall effects of cannabinoids (incl. CBD) on inflammation and why they might be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

More than 40 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) reported using cannabis products last year according to a US national survey on pain in people with MS. Researchers from the University of Michigan found that those who used cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, including CBD and THC, were most likely to try them to help with chronic pain and sleep issues – the two common symptoms of the disease.

We talked to Polly, from Bristol, who has been using a premium multi-cannabinoid broad spectrum CBD oil for three months, about her CBD pain management journey.

Polly, fibromyalgia patient

Polly, fibromyalgia patient

What is your medical condition & how long have you been suffering?

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2016. I suffer from widespread muscle pain and cramps, fatigue and migraines. 

Did you try CBD before?

I had tried a few from health food shops but they had little or rather no effect.

Did you use other medicinal products before?

I combined codeine, diazepam and ibuprofen as well as a range of holistic therapies like massage, physio, kinesiology with varying degrees of success.

How did you come across the oil that you are using at the moment?

A friend of mine talked about it on Facebook and was so enthusiastic about it that I thought “let’s give this a go now, I have nothing to lose.”

Are you combining the oil with any other medication?

No, the broad-spectrum CBD oil is all that I am taking now. It has basically replaced my other medications. 

How long did it take to get the dose right and feel any positive effects from the oil?

It took me about 3-4 weeks to get the dosage right. But I did notice an improvement within a few days the first time I took it. I started with the lowest advised dose on day one and then upped the dosage till I got tangible results. 

Are you taking the oil now on a daily basis? 

I take the oil, in capsule form, three times a day. I take quite a high dose – five capsules per day – but that works best for me. With this oil, six capsules is the recommended maximum dose.

Have you had any negative experiences from the oil?

I have had no negative effects at all so far.

In addition to their current drug regimen, many fibromyalgia patients seek alternative ways to manage their pain, such as the use of medical cannabis. 


Recently, a team of doctors and scientists from Italy published an interesting relevant study. They followed 102 fibromyalgia patients visiting their outpatient clinic at the Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan that did not respond to standard painkiller treatment. 

The selected patients had received stable analgesic therapy for a minimum of three months. 

Patients were told to start medical cannabis treatment slowly, beginning with a low night-time dose of Bedrocan (22% THC, 1% CBD) followed by Bediol (6.3% THC, 8% CBD) in the morning. Previously most studies tended to use nabilone, a single synthetic cannabinoid often sold as Cesamet. The best therapeutic potential (the famous ‘Entourage Effect’) comes from using the whole cannabis flower, as Bedrocan and Bediol do, which contains multiple cannabinoids.

As the authors of this study explain: 

“This rationale lies behind the use of two different formulations in the present study: A higher THC/CBD ratio has more potent analgesic properties, but cannot be used in the morning for legislative concerns. On the other hand, a lower THC/CBD formulation can be taken in the morning since it is associated with less drowsiness.

It is clear that in general, since an ideal [medical cannabis treatment] formulation and dose is still under investigation for fibromyalgia, the treatment strategy is empirical and based on clinical experience.”

What were the study’s findings?

45.5% of the patients remained in a stable clinical condition according to the FAS scores

54.5% of the patients experienced more fatigue according to the FACIT-Fatigue scores

44% of the patients experienced better sleep quality and fewer disturbances according to the PSQI scores

33% of the patients experienced a significant clinical improvement according to the FIQR scores

42.4% of the patients experienced less anxiety according to the ZRS-A scores

50% of the patients felt less depressed according to the ZRDS-D scores 

The only variable associated with an improvement in FIQR scores was the patient’s body mass index (BMI): Patients with a higher BMI required higher doses of cannabis. 

By the end of the six-month treatment period, almost half of the patients had reduced or discontinued their analgesic treatment.

“[This study] showed that MCT offers a clinical advantage in terms of efficacy, especially for its effects on sleep and quality of life. However, further studies are required to establish the best therapeutic strategy in terms of posology, the THC/CBD ratio, and treatment duration.“

So, what does this mean for fibromyalgia patients?

This study suggests that for those with fibromyalgia, CBD alongside other cannabinoids could improve sleep and general mental health. Furthermore, it may also be possible to reduce or terminate other pain medications sufferers currently take.

Even though, according to this study, taking THC/CBD can help manage FM symptoms, sadly it looks unlikely to actually heal the condition. If you are considering adding broad spectrum CBD oil to your diet, please consult with your doctor as it may interact with your medication.

If you would like to learn more about Polly’s fibromyalgia journey, and similar experiences from other CBD users, you can find a selection of user stories on the Ardoa Organics blog.



Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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