Previously, it was thought that the only usage of Marijuana is for recreational purposes. However, research conducted on the uses of Marijuana shows its medicinal effects. It is effective against a wide range of medical issues such as depression, anxiety, epilepsy, etc. Fibromyalgia is a severe and widespread condition that can cause an intense amount of musculoskeletal pain. According to the research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 2% of the American Population struggle with this medical condition. It seems like a small percentage, but it constitutes about 4 million American Adults. Even though there are traditional methods of treating it, cannabis for Fibromyalgia as alternative medicine is gaining popularity amongst several researchers. Read on to know more about it!
Marijuana and Fibromyalgia
Around 5-7% of the world population suffers from Fibromyalgia common yet painful medical condition. It has a genetic predisposition towards women as more women are affected by it than men. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) researched to find that 77807 out of 2216612 veterans have Fibromyalgia. Out of which, most were female patients. Apart from the physical pain, the psychological effects of Fibromyalgia are also quite common. Cannabis is often considered an ‘illegal drug.’
Only recently, it is being made legal as it has specific medicinal properties to deal with pain. Fibromyalgia has no cure and is only treated with pain medication. While these might help to manage the pain, there are serious side effects of these medications. Fibromyalgia is a highly comorbid condition, and hence, patients do not respond to the traditional methods of treating it. Therefore, Marijuana is an alternative medicine for it as there are several health benefits of CBD.
About Medical Marijuana
Medical Marijuana comes from the dried leaves of Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica, which helps treat medical conditions. It mainly has three active components THC, CBD, and CBN. For centuries, it is curing a wide range of diseases and their symptoms. However, it is still illegal in several parts of the world. The three active components are responsible for the different effects of Marijuana. Cannabidiol (CBD) helps to treat medical conditions. Recently, the FDA approved the use of Epidiolex, which is a CBD oil extract, to treat epilepsy. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active psycho-addictive compound in Marijuana.
Although it might induce a ‘trance-like state’ in an individual, FDA approved the drugs made from those. These drugs help with nausea and vomiting experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Nabiximols or Sativex is a drug that has CBD and THC in equal amounts. The UK authorities and several parts of Europe approved this to treat spasticity, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, bladder issues, and several other conditions. Medicinal Marijuana has anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-psychotic, anti-emetic, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective properties. Hence, medical Marijuana not only gets you high but can also help to treat several medical conditions.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain condition that is quite common. It is a chronic condition, i.e., a long-term medical condition. Previously it was dismissed as Fibromyalgia mimics other kinds of diseases. But research has made sure that it gets diagnosed more quickly these days. Apart from the pain in several regions, Fibromyalgia can also cause:
- Sleep disturbances
- Nonrestorative sleep
- Troubles with the attention span
- Pain in the lower belly
- Bladder issues
- Dry eyes
In Fibromyalgia patients, the brain works differently. Your brain tends to overreact to average levels of pain and misinterpret it. The reason might be a chemical imbalance or an abnormality in the brain (dorsal root ganglions). The known risk factors can be old age, lupus, stressful events, severe illnesses, family history, obesity, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Sex might also be a risk factor as women tend to suffer more than men on average.
Does Marijuana Work for Reducing Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Marijuana can treat the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. The ongoing research shows how Marijuana helps Fibromyalgia patients. Cannabis for Fibromyalgia is beneficial as it works as an analgesic. It contains two active components THC and CBD. While THC is a psychoactive component, CBD can work with the Endocannabinoid System of your body. As a result, it can work to reduce Fibromyalgia symptoms. In 2017, ‘The Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies’ was published. It indicated that Marijuana could treat various Fibromyalgia related symptoms. In 2020, in a randomized and controlled trial, the effects of Marijuana were studied on Fibromyalgia patients. The test shows that THC-rich oils provide phytocannabinoids that can improve fibromyalgia patients’ quality of life. However, more research is needed to be sure about Marijuana’s effects on treating Fibromyalgia.
Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibromyalgia patients can experience pain in any of the 18 trigger points that are present in their body. Some of the common pain trigger points in a Fibromyalgia patient are:
- Back of their head
- Outer elbow
The pain level can differ in such patients from mild to unbearable pain. You might feel a sharp and stabbing sensation in your chest in severe cases. You may get a numbing or throbbing sensation in your legs if you have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Your limbs might feel extremely heavy. Back pain is widespread in Fibromyalgia patients. The National Academies Press (NAP) published a study in 2017 which suggested that the medical benefits of Marijuana can be useful in treating chronic pain conditions. In 2011, a study was conducted where 28 Fibromyalgia patients reported the benefits of Marijuana after it was administered to them. Out of them, only 7 % reported no significant difference in their perceived pain levels. 43% reported substantial pain relief, and another 43% reported a mil relief in pain from using Marijuana. Hence, there needs to be more research to legalize cannabis for Fibromyalgia patients.
Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia Sleep Issues
Apart from treating Fibromyalgia related pain, medicinal Marijuana can treat sleep-related issues in Fibromyalgia patients. One of the ideal ways to get relief from pain by getting an ample amount of rest. But often, Fibromyalgia patients cannot sleep at night and experience extreme amounts of fatigue. While drugs such as Cymbalta can help treat sleep-related issues in Fibromyalgia patients, they can cause a long list of side effects. Around 60% of Fibromyalgia patients reported that traditional medication doesn’t help them to sleep. Cannabis for Fibromyalgia patients can be useful as it causes drowsiness in patients and helps them sleep better. The Indica strains of Marijuana make its users feel sleepy. The strains used to treat sleep-related issues mostly are Northern Lights (Indica), Afghan Kush (Indica), and Tahoe OG Kush (hybrid). Although it is not legal in several parts of the world, it can help Fibromyalgia patients sleep better at night.
Medical Marijuana for other Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Fibromyalgia can cause depression and anxiety in patients. Marijuana can help such patients to deal with it as well. In a clinical trial where 102 Fibromyalgia patients took part, cannabis for Fibromyalgia was the research aim whether it worked or not? These participants filled out the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR), which showed a 50% improvement in their anxiety. The researchers at the University of Buffalo have been looking into using Marijuana to treat depression as it can cheer up one’s mood.
Side Effects of Cannabis for Fibromyalgia
Even though there has been a significant amount of research to prove that cannabis does positively affect Fibromyalgia patients, there are specific side effects of using it. Cannabis for Fibromyalgia patients can cause:
- Confusion Drastic
- changes in moods and perception
- Impaired movement
- Memory distortions
- Lack in concentration
High doses can trigger delusions, hallucinations, as well as psychosis. The long-term risks of using Marijuana for Fibromyalgia patients can cause addiction issues, mental illnesses, respiratory problems, circulatory diseases, and cognitive impairments. Perhaps, this is why cannabis for Fibromyalgia has not been entirely approved everywhere.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal?
While Medical Marijuana is used in several different states in the USA, several other locations are yet to be legalized. The FDA has classified medicinal Marijuana as a ‘Schedule One’ drug. You will need a prescription or medical recommendation if you want to use cannabis for Fibromyalgia treatment. In the states where medicinal marijuana is legal, you can purchase it from dispensaries. You will need a marijuana card to buy medicinal Marijuana. It has to be approved by a licensed medical professional.
It can be concluded that cannabis for Fibromyalgia might not be a bad idea. Since the traditional medications do not work appropriately for fibromyalgia patients, medicinal Marijuana gives them a chance to lead a better life. But only medication will not be able to alleviate Fibromyalgia symptoms. Apart from that, Fibromyalgia patients need to bring in an active change in their lifestyle. Exercises such as Pilates and swimming have helped a lot of patients to deal better with their pain. Apart from that, using relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises helps as well. Some research also suggests that acupuncture and massages can provide temporary relief in Fibromyalgia patients. Suppose you are considering using medicinal Marijuana as a primary treatment method for Fibromyalgia. In that case, you need to speak with your doctor first.
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