Groundbreaking Research Shows Fibromyalgia Patients Using CBD to Reduce Chronic Pain

3.4 min readPublished On: August 13th, 2021By

LOS ANGLES-A growing body of research suggests that Cannabidiol (CBD) may help people with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic pain. Studies suggest that CBD may help relieve pain and inflammation, so researchers are looking into its effects on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

For example, one 2020 reviewTrusted Source concluded while current evidence is still limited, new data suggest that cannabis can have a positive effect on fibromyalgia.

Also, although CBD shows promise as a remedy for this condition, research has not yet proven that it is safe and effective, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source have not approved CBD for treating fibromyalgia or other forms of pain.

How does CBD work for fibromyalgia?

Researchers cannot decisively say why the compound appears to reduce some fibromyalgia symptoms, or why it works for some people and not others, but researchers are currently testing some theories.

The pain relieving effects of CBD are likely down to its effects on the brain. It may interrupt the nerve pathways that send signals of pain between the brain and the rest of the body.

CBD and other cannabinoids attach to specialized receptors in a person’s brain. One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in managing pain and inflammation.

When CBD enters the body, it may attach to CB2 receptors, or it may cause the body to produce natural cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) that attach to these receptors. This may then result in reduced pain and inflammation.  Previous research has shown that some people substitute medical cannabis, often with high concentrations of THC, for opioids and other pain medications, reporting that cannabis provides better pain relief and fewer side effects.

However, there is currently far less data on CBD use.  One 2016 study suggests that a lack of endocannabinoids may be at the root of chronic pain syndromes, including migraine and fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is very difficult to treat and causes severe pain for people living with the condition. New research from University of Michigan Health has now shown that fibromyalgia patients are using CBD products as an effective replacement pain killer for opioids.

CBD for managing pain

For this study, the researchers focused on 878 people with fibromyalgia who said they used CBD.

Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., a research investigator in the Department of Anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, and his team surveyed people with fibromyalgia about their use of CBD for the treatment of chronic pain.

Researchers found that more than 70% of people with fibromyalgia who used CBD substituted CBD for opioids or other pain medications, and many reported that they either decreased use or stopped taking opioids and other pain medications as a result.

Boehnke said: “CBD is less harmful than THC, as it is non-intoxicating and has less potential for abuse. If people can find the same relief without THC’s side effects, CBD may be useful as a harm reduction strategy.

“Fibromyalgia is not easy to treat, often involving several medications with significant side effects and modest benefits. Further, many alternative therapies, like acupuncture and massage, are not covered by insurance.”

Boehnke noted that the rate of substitution in this instance is quite like the substitution rate reported in the medical cannabis literature. People who said they used CBD products that also contained THC had higher odds of substitution and reported greater symptom relief.

However, the finding that products containing only CBD also provided pain relief and were substituted for pain medications is promising and merits future study, Boehnke pointed out.

“Even with that lack of evidence, people are using CBD, substituting it for medication and doing so saying it’s less harmful and more effective,” he said, stressing the need for more controlled research into how CBD may provide these benefits, as well as whether these benefits may be due to the placebo effect.

Clinically, exploring CBD use for chronic pain is imperative, said Boehnke, for medication safety reasons as well as for “enhancing the therapeutic alliance and improving patient care.”


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