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.
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.
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.
UK Fibromyalgia announce two-part webinar about arthritis, fibromyalgia and cannabis medicines
The two-part webinar about arthritis and fibromyalgia will also feature patient’s voices
UK Fibromyalgia, Integro Clinics, Primary Care Cannabis Network, CPASS and PLEA are proud to present a collaborative two-part webinar discussing fibromyalgia, arthritis and cannabis medicines.
An estimated 1.5-2 million people are living with fibromyalgia and 10 million with arthritis in the UK. The management of the symptoms of these conditions can take a long time to diagnose correctly and can take even longer before they are effectively brought under control.
This two-part series aims to educate attendees on the experiences and lives of those living with fibromyalgia and arthritis, as well as show the benefits that cannabis medicines and CBD can have in alleviate some of the symptoms of these conditions.
Steven is one of three patients, who will be speaking at the second episode of the webinar.
He is a medical cannabis patient with fibromyalgia. He shares his story from first being diagnosed to gaining his medical cannabis prescription, and how his life has improved since then.
Fibromyalgia: Steven’s Story
Steven first developed FSH Muscular Dystrophy in 2014 and was diagnosed in 2016, after an initially incorrect diagnosis of Brachial Neuritis. Then in 2015, he developed fibromyalgia, which restricted him to a wheelchair, when outside his home.
His FSH Muscular Dystrophy had caused him severe nerve damage leading to his arm dropping forwards at the shoulder and giving him huge pain. He was prescribed Naproxen, Amitriptyline, Pregabalin, Tramadol and Baclofen.
All had limited effects on his pain and had horrible side effects. So much so that he was taken off them leaving him with very little to treat the symptoms of his fibromyalgia.
He said: “Fibromyalgia arrived during a very stressful period in my life, triggered by a car crash. Four months after the accident, I was admitted to the hospital having difficulties with walking and pain in my back, hips and legs. I had already exhausted all other common pain killers because of the treatment I had already received for FSH muscular dystrophy, which had started a year before.”
Having come off these medicines, Steven then had six weeks of physiotherapy, which didn’t help and caused him great pain. After this, he was not referred to any doctors or for psychological help, which he should have been as per NICE guidelines. It was at this point that he turned to medical cannabis, and in June 2019, he received his first prescription.
Steven discovered that using medical cannabis allowed him to gain back his mental and physical strength. It allowed him to sleep better and recoup.
Cannabis and Fibromyalgia
Steven said: “I got my first medical cannabis prescription in June 2019 and it was the best decision I’ve ever made to treat my illness. Over time the brain fog that I was perpetually in receded. I can compare my fibromyalgia with a volcano, that was bubbling and active – the cannabis soothed and quietened it. It allowed my stiffness and fatigue to reduce, and my body began to recover and flourish. Whole aspects of my personality that had switched off returned. Mentally and physically, I was healing, and I had the space to be me.
He added: “The consistent quality and regular supply of medical cannabis, as opposed to black-market cannabis, was vital. It allowed me to get a constant level of relief that allowed me to rebalance my vulnerable body and mind. With each month of use, symptoms would reduce or completely go and my kids all commented on the massive change in my energy levels.”
Steven will be part of the round table panel in the second episode of the webinar and will discuss why he believes medical cannabis should be more widely accessible for patients when conventional medicines no longer help.
He explained: “I want to help raise the profile of medical cannabis as an effective form of treatment for Fibromyalgia at the same time as helping to raise awareness of the condition. Because it destroys people’s lives, it destroys families, careers, takes parents, partners, friends & loved ones away from us and locks them in a constant cycle of pain, anxiety and fatigue. It is a very destructive illness yet mostly invisible because these people are isolated at home suffering & unable to talk about it.
“This webinar is an opportunity to shed light on the topic of fibromyalgia and bring more attention to this illness and exactly how it affects people.”
Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser at Integro Medical Clinics Ltd said: “Integro Medical Clinics always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.”
If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman please contact Integro Clinics:
Medical cannabis may reduce pain levels in fibromyalgia patients – study
The study also showed potential positive results for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy
A new study on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia and other inflammatory rheumatic diseases, reports a reduction in pain levels following medical cannabis use.
The study revealed patients experienced reduced levels of pain and better sleep quality following their use of medical cannabis products.
The study surveyed 319 patients about their use of medical cannabis products. Those with fibromyalgia accounting for 82 percent of the group, reported a mean pain level reduction of 77 percent. They also reported sleep quality improvement of 78 percent.
The researchers noted the demographic and clinical parameters before documenting the type of cannabis consumed, the method of consumption and the amount.
Other pain conditions enrolled in the study included rheumatoid arthritis patients and those experiencing diabetic neuropathy. The group included 14 with mechanical back pain, eight with physical injuries, seven with rheumatoid arthritis, and seven with diabetic neuropathy. All groups recorded potentially significant levels of improvement in their symptoms.
Pain level reduction
According to the results, the THC concentration, duration of consumption, and dose had potentially significant effects on pain reduction. Only the duration of consumption had an independent significant effect on sleep quality improvement.
The data was published in the journal Pain Research and Management.
The authors wrote: “Medical cannabis (MC) has a favourable effect on pain level and sleep quality among nearly the entire spectrum of resistant ‘chronic pain syndromes’ seen or referred to rheumatology clinics, including inflammatory diseases resistant to biological treatment.”
“Cannabis should be seriously considered in every ‘chronic pain condition’ whenever the accepted modalities of treatment are insufficient for alleviating patient’s pain and sleep problems.”
Fibromyalgia relief: New review suggests cannabis may help symptoms
A new review of 313 studies into fibromyalgia relief for patients confirms it may help to relieve symptoms
A new review suggests that whole-plant cannabis may provide relief or improve different symptoms experienced by fibromyalgia patients.
Researchers examined scientific papers specific to either the use of cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids in fibromyalgia patients. They reported that cannabis or cannabinoids may help with various symptoms and are safe for use in treatment.
Researchers, affiliated with the California Institute of Behavioural Neurosciences and Psychology, published the literature review, titled, A systematic review of fibromyalgia and recent advancements in treatment: Is medicinal cannabis a new hope?
The authors noted: “The data suggest that the use of cannabinoids and cannabis carries limited side effects in the treatment of FM, and they can also improve some common and debilitating symptoms associated with FM, thus making them an adequate potential treatment option, when other treatment lines have been exhausted.”
They highlighted that the ongoing pandemic combined with an opioid crisis meant there was a need to discover alternative forms of pain relief.
“Ultimately, we believe that the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for pain relief in fibromyalgia has shown great potential and maybe a source of hope for those suffering from chronic pain associated with this condition, and for the physicians treating them; however, benefits need to be weighed against the harmful effects, and more research into this area should be conducted, for longer periods, to assess for long-term efficacy, adverse effects, and dependence.”
“The ratio of TCH: CBD also seems to be an important factor in the outcome, which needs further research. So more clinical trials with long-term follow-up and study on the dose-response relationship and dependence need to be done.”
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