Fibromyalgia is not a disease that has been identified as having a cause, but that may be changing. As recent as a decade ago, some medical professionals did not even recognize that it existed at all. Today it is recognized as a group of symptoms that together are categorized as a syndrome. Below are some of (but not all) the symptoms generally experienced by those with Fibromyalgia:
- Chronic pain with specific tender points
- Widespread stiffness in the muscles
- Muscle Spasticity
- Sleep Disturbances
- Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS)
- Depression and Low Mood
Any one of these symptoms can be debilitating, so imagine what someone experiencing all of these symptoms together. Any wonder the last item is on the list.
Doctor Allan Frankel and Doctor Ethan Russo treat many patients showing the above symptoms and they are joining a chorus of researchers who believe that Fibromyalgia may be a result of a condition called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).
This condition is believed to be a lack of natural internally produced cannabinoids called Anandamide and 2-AG.
Cannabinoids promote something called homeostasis (balance) at every level of biological life, from the sub-cellular, to the organs and the body as a whole. One example of the many duties of our cannabinoids is autophagy, a process in which a cell self-digests and dies. When this occurs it is a normal part of keeping our bodies in tip top condition. This process has been found to be mediated by the cannabinoid system. They ensure they keep normal cells alive, allowing a regulated life cycle for the cell, it has a deadly effect on malignant tumor cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide. The death of cancer cells, of course, promotes the desired homeostasis and survival at the level of the entire organism.
These cannabinoids attach to receptors (CB1 and CB2) in our cells stabilizing them and ensuring that they function safely and optimally. These receptors are in nearly all the tissues in our bodies including our brain and nervous system. When there is a deficiency of Anandamide and 2-AG the normal balance is not as present and many adverse conditions begin to appear. Researchers and Doctors have discovered that our cellular receptors are happy accepting CBD when our natural cannabinoids are lacking. CBD can be taken orally and sublingually and find a welcome home in our cells.
Pain: Researchers have shown CBD to have many beneficial properties for maintaining healthy body and mind. It is an anti-inflammatory, which is often the source of pain, and essentially addresses the first 3 symptoms of Fibromyalgia. In fact a recent survey by the National Pain Foundation and NationalPainReport.com, 62% of cannabis-consuming fibromyalgia patients found the herb “very effective” in relieving pain.
Muscle Spasticity: Is really a combination of muscle spasms, twitching and tightness. These can be very troubling during peak attacks and are not helped much by medications. CBD research in 2011 found that CBD was a great stabilizing agent for taming renegade muscles and restored normal function in mice injected with an agent that creates muscle spasticity like MS symptoms. The pharmaceutical companies even created a marijuana derived drug to treat these very symptoms.
IBS: Regarding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) I refer you to my previous blog on IBS. I will only add a telling comment by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which concluded:
“For patients . . . who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”
Sleep: Although CBD is more a stimulating influence than a sedative, it was reported in the “CBD Project” that several patients with sleep issues report that ingesting a CBD-rich tincture or extract a few hours before bedtime has a balancing effect that facilitates a good night’s sleep. Logic leads us to the conclusion that a reduction in the other negative effects of Fibromyalgia enables a better quality and more sustained and comfortable sleep. My own brother, Robert, has experienced this effect on his chronic sleeplessness.
Depression: It is a well known and widely publicized fact that CBD has great positive effects on the brain and the nervous system. Depression is a debilitating condition effecting 40-50 million Americans. Women are by far the majority of those affected. The beneficial effects of CBD can be attributed to the greater proportion of cannabinoid receptors in the brain cells compared with the rest of the body. It appears the brain needs more cannabinoid. When CBD is introduced, the results are very noticeable. Although there are few human studies, Pub-Med publishes all scientific studies and concluded from studies that “CBD exhibited an anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in animal models discussed.”
In conclusion: Many Fibromyalgia symptoms are alleviated by the beneficial properties of CBD which leads to speculation that the symptoms could be the result of a deficiency of our own natural cannabinoids, since supplementing CBD produces positive effects for those suffering with Fibromyalgia.
The best and often loudly proclaimed benefit, is that CBD has little or no side effects when compared to the destructive side effects of other treatments.