Can CBD Help With Fibromyalgia?

It is estimated that over 11 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. The condition, which is not life-threatening, causes a range of debilitating symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis, lumbago, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Fibromyalgia sufferers experience musculoskeletal pain, as well as insomnia, depression and other cognitive problems, all of which are debilitating conditions [1]

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition and traditional therapies focus on pain management. Some fibromyalgia sufferers are now turning to cannabidiol (CBD) as a way treat pain and inflammation, aid anxiety and depression and improve sleep.

 

CBD and the ECS

CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally-occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons, the cells that transmit nerve impulses. The ECS has CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain; CB2 receptors are mostly found in immune cells and in a few neurons.[2]

 

The ECS acts to restore balance whenever something happens with one of the body functions, such as appetite, sleep, immune response, and more.  When CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor, it inhibits pain and inflammation. It also releases tension that causes anxiety.

 

What Research Says About CBD and Fibromyalgia

One study conducted in 2016 suggests that a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency might be at the heart of migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome, who have a commonality in symptomatology. [3] While more research is needed, the use CBD may correct this deficiency, explaining the compound’s success in alleviating chronic pain.[4]

 

CBD Reduces Pain and Inflammation

 While research on CBD continues, studies to date point to its pain-relieving effects, Matthew Halpert, an instructor of immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told U.S. News & World Report that CBD topical products can make the pain go away for a certain period of time. Research Halpert conducted with Medterra CBD in Irvine, Calif., found that topical CBD was able to reduce the production of inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factor alpha. People with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis overproduce this particular marker.[5]

 

Another study reported in the European Journal of Pain looked into the effectiveness of a topical CBD gel on rats to reduce inflammation and pain from arthritis. The CBD was applied to the rats for 4 consecutive days. Results indicated a significant drop in joint swelling and signs of pain. The data indicated that topical CBD has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side effects.[6]

 

CBD May Help Anxiety and Insomnia From Fibromyalgia

 While more research is needed on CBD and anxiety, a 2011 study found that CBD was able to reduce Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). This preliminary study aimed to compare the effects of a simulation public speaking test (SPST) on healthy control patients and treatment-naïve SAD patients who received a single dose of CBD or placebo. Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in the speech performance of control patients, and significantly decreased alert levels in their anticipatory speech. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group.[7]

Some research on CBD and sleep indicates that CBD may interact with specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CB-1 and CB-2, to potentially affect the sleep/wake cycle.  Furthermore, by reducing the symptoms of pain and anxiety, CBD may also contribute to a more restful sleep.[8]

By relieving pain, reducing anxiety and aiding sleep, CBD may help fibromyalgia sufferers.

 

[1] “Can CBD Help with Fibromyalgia? What the Research Says,” keephealthcare.org., Accessed August 19, 2021. https://keephealthcare.org/can-cbd-help-with-fibromyalgia-what-the-research-says/
[2] Mackie K. Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. J Neuroendocrinol. 2008 May;20 Suppl 1:10-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x. PMID: 18426493. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18426493/
[3] Ethan B. Russo.Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.Dec 2016.154-165. http://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0009
[4] Villines, Zawn, “Cannabidiol (CBD) is an oil that derives from cannabis. A growing body of research suggests that CBD may help people with fibromyalgia,” Medical News Today, November 2, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321501
[5] Caceres, Vanessa. “Do Topical CBD Products Work?”, US. World & News Report, September 23, 2019. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/do-topical-cbd-products-work
 
[6] Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936‐948. doi:10.1002/ejp.818  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/
 
[7] Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219‐1226. doi:10.1038/npp.2011.6.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21307846/
 
[8] “CBD: For Sleep and Insomnia, American Sleep Association, accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/cbd/