Fibromyalgia And Medical Marijuana

Fibromyalgia And Medical Marijuana

Fibromyalgia and medical marijuana- Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread tenderness and pain that affect a specific region or can be spread throughout the body. It is typically found in the spine, neck, shoulders and hips. There are often symptoms of fatigue and effects on mood and ability to sleep, and the physical sensation of being on pins and needles.

Top Ten Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Pain all over
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Brain fog
  • Morning stiffness
  • Muscle knots, cramping, weakness
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Balance problems
  • Itchy/burning skin

This is a common condition affecting more than 3 million people per year in the U.S. alone.

Traditional Medication

There are numerous pharmaceutical prescriptions used to treat fibromyalgia, including the muscle relaxant Cyclobenzaprine, and Gabopentin, Naproxen, Paxil and Prozac. Sometimes physical therapy is necessary to manage pain, as well as a clinical psychology to treat the emotional effects of the condition.

Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant. It works by blocking nerve impulses (or pain sensations) that are sent to your brain.

Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic medication, also called an anticonvulsant. It affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain.

Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It works by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

Paxil (paroxetine) is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Paroxetine affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced.

Prozac (fluoxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressant. Prozac affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

Medical Marijuana And Fibromyalgia

The most effective cannabinoid for the treatment of fibromyalgia appears to be THC. A daily dose of 2.5 to 15 mg of THC has been shown to significantly reduce daily recorded pain. The synthetic cannabinoid nabilone has also been shown to significantly decrease pain.

Our bodies naturally make pain relievers called endorphins, but they also make other substances that can trigger pain relief in the so-called endocannabinoid system. This system seems to play a key role in many processes in the body, including modulating how we feel pain. Marijuana contains cannabinoids very similar to those that occur in the body naturally.

Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a central regulatory system that affects a wide range of biological processes. It consists of a group of molecules known as cannabinoids as well as the cannabinoid receptors that they bind to.

Although marijuana is a source of over 60 cannabinoids (including THC and CBD), the human body produces a number of cannabinoids as well.

Decades of scientific research on the endocannabinoid system has resulted in the discovery of two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are found in various parts of the body, but are most prominent in the brain and immune system.

Cannabinoid receptors act as binding sites for endogenous cannabinoids as well as cannabinoids found in marijuana. When cannabinoids bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors, they act to change the way the body functions.

Cannabinoid receptors continue to be identified in unique parts of the body as research on the endocannabinoid system

How To Medicate

Clinical trials have shown the oral administration of cannabis capsules to be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia. There is also strong anecdotal evidence to suggest that the smoking and vaporizing of cannabis, as well as the oral administration of edibles and extracts are effective treatment methods.

Vaporizing or Vaping

If you don’t like the idea of smoke there is the option to vaporize. Vaporization does not use combustion to heat the medicine. Unfortunately there is some confusion out there about vaporizers. There are now hundreds of vaporizers to choose from. There are three basic types: pen, hand-help, and tabletop. The differences are in price, portability and size. Some vaporizers claim to be able to vaporize plant matter (flowers), wax and oils. Some can only do concentrates, some only oil. The most important difference is the method used to heat the medicine. There are basically two methods (with hybrids on the way)- conduction and convection.

True Vaporizing is done by convection, where air is heated, and in turn the hot air turns the medicine a to vapor which is then inhaled. Conduction Vaporizing happens when a hot element (metal plate, or bowl) touches the medicine. The medicine is placed directly in a metal or ceramic bowl or chamber that is heated which then heats the medicine and the smoke is inhaled. This is still combustion, and not truly vaporizing. This is closer to dabbing but with a much cooler heating element.


The benefit from smoking as a route of administration is instant action and the ability of the patient to self titrate the dose needed for relief.

What’s Best for my Lungs?

The cleanest method to inhale medicine is true or convective vaporizing. It is better for your lungs since there is no burning or combustion.


Edibles provide ways to eat or drink your medicine. Many medicated edibles and even bottled drinks are readily available at dispensaries. Be aware that most of the edibles at dispensaries are loaded with sugar and carbs. But basically what the edibles and drinks all contain are canna butter and/or canna oil. You can purchase these or easily make them at home to add to your own baked goods, snacks or even meals (especially if you are avoiding sugar or gluten).

The Patient

A 2011 report outlined research wherein 28 cannabis users and 28 non-users with fibromyalgia were studied for the effect of cannabinoid treatment on the symptoms of the condition. Authors reported:

Patients used cannabis not only to alleviate pain but for almost all symptoms associated to FM, and no one reported worsening of symptoms following cannabis use. … Signifiant relief of pain, stiffness, relaxation, somnolence, and perception of well being was observed. … The present results together with previous evidence seem to confirm the beneficial effects of cannabinoids on FM symptoms.

As one FM patient reported in a story to, “I would use marijuana when the burning pains started down my spine or my right arm, and shortly after, I found I could continue with housework and actually get more done.” Further elaborating, I would suggest to any fibromyalgic to try marijuana if they are open to it. I swore when I became a parent I would not touch weed again, but times have changed, and I was desperate to find something for the burning pain so I could function. I’m glad that I made this decision because it works for me.”

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