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Fibromyalgia Success with Cannabis

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex pain disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, sleep problems, and emotional and mental distress. According to the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, the condition affects an estimated 3-6% of the world’s population. Various treatment options exist; however, there is currently no known cure.

While additional studies are still needed, new research and patient testimonials suggest cannabis may be the missing piece to the puzzle.

Patient experience

As an assault survivor, CannaMD patient Diana Russom has sustained severe injuries resulting in a number of medical conditions, including: fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and migraines. While Russom acknowledges the role of pharmaceutical medication in the early stages of her recovery, she notes that prescription painkillers and antidepressants soon became more of a problem than a solution:

At one point, they had me taking five Narco, two Buspar, two Celexa, three Klonopins, and multiple anti-inflammatories all in one day!

Unfortunately, Russom is not alone. According to a 2017 nationally representative survey, American adults take an average of four prescription drugs a day. (A 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 11.9% of participants had taken over five prescription drugs in the past 30 days.) While the U.S. population has only increased 21% over the last two decades, the total number of prescriptions filled by adults and children has skyrocketed 85%.

According to Russom, medical cannabis completely changed her life:

I was able to cut my prescriptions in half!

When I walked into my pain management doctor’s office and told them I’d gotten my medical cannabis card, the nurses literally started dancing. My doctor was so happy!

In addition to decreasing other medications, Russom says cannabis also helped her regain her appetite, sleep better at night, and (surprisingly) stop struggling with allergies. (Cannabinoids exert a broad influence over the immune system and are being increasingly studied as treatment agents for asthma, allergies, and more.)

However, it was the plant’s ability to treat fibromyalgia that brings Russom to tears:

For two years, I couldn’t take a shower without excruciating pain, like tons of little needles raining down my back. And then one day [after using cannabis], I decided to give it a try – and it was just unbelievable. The pain was gone. I mean, the pain was GONE!

Fibromyalgia and cannabis

Researchers suggest positive fibromyalgia/cannabis effects may be due to a possible endocannabinoid system deficiency underlying the disorder, which marijuana cannabinoids help balance, or a potential stress system dysfunction – which, again, cannabis is able to influence through the endocannabinoid system.

As CannaMD explored in an earlier post, the endocannabinoid system is comprised of naturally occurring cannabinoids (similar to the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis) and cannabinoid receptors (known as CB1 and CB2). These receptors and chemical compounds play a major role in regulating sleep, pain, immune system functioning, and more.

According to Cannabis and Cannabinoids Research:

The biologically hypothesized rationale for cannabinoid administration is whole-body exposure to exogenous cannabinoids to turn on pain inhibition.

(For more details on how cannabinoids work to alleviate pain, see: How Does Medical Marijuana Help Pain?.)

Speaking specifically to fibromyalgia pain, a recent study followed 28 patients who used cannabis and 28 patients who did not. Results published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One found:

[Cannabis user] scores showed a statistically significant reduction of pain and stiffness, enhancement of relaxation, and an increase in somnolence and feeling of well being. The mental health component summary score… was significantly higher in cannabis users than in non-users.

Leading study authors to conclude:

The present results together with previous evidence seem to confirm the beneficial effects of cannabinoids on fibromyalgia symptoms.

Patient advice

Despite the healing benefits of medical cannabis, Russom recognizes the treatment’s stigma. However, she claims results quickly win over even the harshest skeptics:

I took my cannabis extract one day and then my 84-year-old very conservative mother – who knows my anxiety and severe anger management issues – she saw me. We were having lunch, and my granddaughter almost dropped her drink. I didn’t even give it a second thought and reacted calmly. Later, when we were leaving, my mother mentioned the incident and said: “So your cannabis medicine is really working for you isn’t it? I was raised to believe it’s a hallucinogenic and addictive – something that would make you stab your grandmother for a dollar! – and I’m telling you right now I’m 1000% a believer!”

Russom also references the power of community, encouraging new patients to get involved with online groups (such as CannaFacts) and research other patient stories and YouTube videos.

Worried about getting started? Russom says to start with CBD oil, take it slow, and keep things in perspective:

I can either put two drops of THC sativa extract the size of a grain of rice on a cracker once or twice a day, and take indica [a strain of cannabis] at night for sleeping, or I can take a grocery bag of pills – guess which one I’m going to do!

Besides relief from fibromyalgia pain and a host other symptoms, Russom points to an even larger benefit:

Cannabis has taught me how people of all walks of life –  who would normally strangle each other over a presidential campaign, who would shoot each other over religion, or body shame each other –  can come together over one little herb. How one little herb given from God can bring us together and save all our lives and show us: Yes, we ‘canna’!

Learn more

Interested in learning more about medical cannabis? Speak with one of our qualifying specialists today!

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You may be eligible for medical marijuana!

Questions or comments on today’s post? Let us know in the comments section, below!

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12 Comments

  1. As a fibromyalgia sufferer I can attest to its effectiveness in reducing my pain, easing my muscle spasms and (as I call them) “electrical shock episodes”, and helping me sleep at night. I rarely have to take my prescribed pharmaceutical pain medication or muscle relaxer unless I’m having a particularly bad flare.
    I just started using medical marijuana in March of this year and I am ecstatic with the results,

    1. So happy to hear you’ve found relief! Thank you for sharing your story! Wishing you continued health and wellness 🙂

  2. When I moved to Florida one year ago this month I was on almost 15 pharmaceutical meds a day, some of them multiple times a day. With the help of cannabis I am now down to only 6 a day and have now been able to hold a full time job for a year for the first time in 8 years of being on disability. I still have pain and bad flare days BUT cannabis has been the factor that has begun to give me my life back.

    1. That’s truly incredible! We’re so happy to hear about your success! Wishing continued wellness with your job (so amazing!). Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. I, too, have fibro plus rheumatoid arthritis. Life isn’t so much fun for me. Cannabis has saved my life, literally. It helps with the pain first and foremost, then it helps with emotions. With those in check, you can deal with life. The only thing is, I use a lot and it comes out of pocket. I can hardly afford to keep myself well. I live in Florida and it isn’t cheap!

    1. We’re so happy to hear medical cannabis has helped! Hoping products become more affordable as the program moves along. Thank you for sharing your story – wishing you continued health and happiness!

  4. In Illinois, I told my pain management doctor I got my card and unfortunately they did not dance. They said they could not give me anymore pain medicine unless I peed clean in a cup. They made me sign some sort of form. I know the laws are strict about opioids but I feel it’s more that the doctors don’t want to lose their kickback on selling drugs. 𝐂𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐬 is taking away their business.

    1. We’re so sorry to hear about your experience 🙁 Hoping for positive changes in the future!

  5. After heart valve replacement surgery in 2017, I found myself taking 13 pills a day. I was previously taking 2 a day. Oxy Codone was one medicine that I was prescribed. Even the heavy duty painkillers weren’t working.
    Medical Marijuana has helped me tremendously.
    I’m no longer switching from my bed to the recliner throughout the night. I’m now able to sleep 8 hours in my bed.
    I’m facing another major surgery soon. Along with spine problems, anxiety, depression, and severe joint pain.
    After a 30 year construction career, I’m now incapable of performing the simplest tasks.
    Not knowing what the future will bring, I’m glad to be able to get off a lot of the prescription drugs.

    1. Thank you for sharing your incredible story! So happy to hear how medical cannabis has changed your life! Wishing you continued health and wellness!

  6. I’m happy I found this site. I have just gotten my temp card and awaiting the official one. Plan on seeing my PC doc tomorrow as I’m stymied on where to begin. I have severe Fibromyalgia plus non listed pain issues, fussed lumbar discs and spinol stenosis and have been on opiods for 4 years and want to stop the opiod and hoping MM will help. So I’m a newbie and haven’t picked up any MM yet. Hoping for pain relief so bad. 😊 Thanks for having the CannaMD site.

    1. You’re welcome, we’re so glad you find it informative! Please let us know if you’re ever in Florida and need any assistance – we’re here to help!

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