Fibromyalgia is perhaps one of the most misunderstood conditions. Many people still think fibromyalgia isn’t a real medical problem, but rather ‘all in your head.”
Fibromyalgia was officially recognized as a distinct medical condition only a few decades ago, in the late 1970s. For a long time, doctors also believed that fibromyalgia is caused by psychological factors, basically labeled as a mental disorder, simply because lab tests and investigations were not showing any physical changes.
More recently, however, science proved that fibromyalgia is very real, and affects between 6-12 million Americans, according to The American Chronic Pain Association. The first scientific study confirming that fibromyalgia symptoms and tender points could be found in the body was published in 1981.
MRIs of people with fibromyalgia have shown some changes in the part of the brain that processes pain signals from the body, and these changes are boosting the intensity of normal pain response. Research has also suggested that there is a genetic component.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include sharp pain and/or widespread dull pain that can last for days to months. In addition, some patients have noted experiencing significant fatigue and cognitive problems, such as lack of focus and brain fog. Furthermore, fibromyalgia is often associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraines and headaches.
What Causes Fibromyalgia
Scientists do not know the exact cause of fibromyalgia. There is a genetic component, because it tends to run in families, and some gene variations had been identified.
Infections may also play a role, especially Epstein–Barr virus infection, hepatitis C, and Lyme disease.
Emotional stress is well-known to trigger a flare-up and aggravate the symptoms. While many drugs and therapies are available for fibromyalgia, many people still struggle with this condition.
Could medical marijuana help?
Medical Marijuana For Fibromyalgia- Research Studies
Given the increased interest in using medical marijuana for many conditions, researchers are investigating its benefits for fibromyalgia, as well. The results are encouraging.
Researchers have found that marijuana products are frequently used by individuals with fibromyalgia. A number of surveys showed that most of the people who tried medical marijuana found it to be either effective or very effective for managing their symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as pain.
Research studies, including two randomized controlled clinical trials using oral nabilone [synthetic THC], specifically looked at the impact of cannabinoids on pain and sleeping problems related to fibromyalgia. Nabilone was found to significantly reduce the pain and improve function. Best of all, it was well tolerated.
One study found that nabilone is more effective than antidepressant/muscle relaxant drug amitriptyline to improve sleep in fibromyalgia.
Scientists have one more big reason to believe medical marijuana can help people with fibromyalgia: this condition is associated with a deficiency of the endocannabinoid system.
As you know, your body has a built in system called the endocannabinoid system, which is made up of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids (THC-like molecules created in the body) and metabolic enzymes. Simply put, in fibromyalgia, the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids or doesn’t have enough cannabinoid receptors.
Furthermore medical marijuana may not only help manage fibromyalgia but also commonly associated with migraines and IBS. Why? Because studies found that all three: IBS, fibromyalgia, and migraines are correlated with endocannabinoid deficiency.
Although more research is needed, medical marijuana shows a lot of potential to help manage fibromyalgia.
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