CBD And Fibromyalgia
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Before discussing CBD, we should discuss Fibromyalgia and what it is. Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue as well as other symptoms caused by hyperactive and hyper sensitivity within the body’s nervous system. When the nervous system is “fired up” for people with Fibromyalgia, this causes them to experience an array of symptoms including extreme pain, stress, mood swings, constant muscle aches, stiff joints, headaches, memory issues, muscle twitching, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, burning sensations, skin sensitivity to touch, insomnia or trouble sleeping to name a few.
Fibromyalgia is often overlooked and misdiagnosed by medical professionals. This is often due to the fact that after going through a battery of traditional testing, such as blood tests, imaging scans, etc., the results look normal. The person is therefore often misdiagnosed because symptoms may overlap with other health conditions. Others may be dismissed and told they are merely depressed, stressed, told to get more sleep because everything “looks normal” on their tests. Worse yet, and unfortunately, many are told there is nothing wrong with them, when clearly there is something wrong.
For the above reasons, Fibromyalgia is mainly diagnosed using a symptom based approach. If you feel you may have Fibromyalgia, it’s important to find a health professional that understands and works with Fibromyalgia patients to be properly diagnosed.
How CBD can Help Fibromyalgia
For some people, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties have been found to be effective in treating chronic pain and fibromyalgia symptoms. This is due to the way CBD interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System, which is a signaling pathway responsible for regulating many important body functions. By increasing the level of naturally occurring cannabinoids already present in the body, it achieves a system wide effect on symptoms like pain and inflammation.
Activating the cannabinoid receptors impacts molecules that control neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send messages in the body. They directly affect various functions in the brain and central nervous system, such as mood, memory and sleep. When these pathways are balanced properly the result is homeostasis within the system, allowing your body to function normally. When there is a deficiency somewhere in the system, the body becomes out of balance. This disruption within the body can cause chronic pain, or any number of other Fibromyalgia symptoms.
Because Fibromyalgia pain is thought to be a result of overactive nerves, CBD helps to calm these nerves, which can help relax muscle tension and spasms due to its inhibitory effects on adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating pain impulses, therefore, when the body calms the nerves it leads to calming the pain for people with Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is known to interfere with sleep and those suffering with it, often wake up throughout the night. A number of things can disrupt sleep patterns such as muscle twitching (twitching oneself awake), high levels of cortisol (the body’s natural stress hormone), a burning sensation in legs and feet due to hyper nerves, etc. CBD has been shown to improve sleep quality by reducing a person’s total time spent awake during the night (as measured by EEG). This is due to its ability to interact with GABA-A receptors in the brain, which are responsible for regulating your sleep cycle and alterations in consciousness between waking and sleeping (known as NREM and REM sleep cycles). CBD also naturally reduces cortisol levels in the body, which when elevated can lead to restless and disruptive sleep. For more on that topic, read our blog Insomnia, Cortisol, and CBD.
What forms does CBD come in?
CBD is available in many different forms such as pills, gummies, oils and creams. The three most popular taken orally are; CBD oil tinctures, gummies and capsules. The main difference in the three is how you take them.
CBD gummies and capsules are swallowed and have to go through the digestive process in order to get into the bloodstream. Therefore, they take longer to become effective, and a lesser amount of CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream.
CBD oil is taken by squirting the oil under the tongue and holding it there for 30-90 seconds, then swallowing any remaining oil. Through the sublingual method, CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream faster and at a higher concentration resulting in quicker results. Another benefit of using CBD oil versus capsules or gummies is you can vary the CBD dosage amount.. For example, you can’t take ½ a capsule, but you can take ½ a dropper of CBD oil.
Other forms include topical creams, balms, and bath soaks. Topical CBD (balms and creams) are rubbed directly onto the skin. Thoroughly massaging topical CBD into the skin brings blood flow to the surface of the skin, thus ensuring CBD is absorbed into muscles, joints and tissues to provide relief.
CBD epsom salt bath soaks are very beneficial for managing symptoms as well. Epsom salt, which is essentially magnesium, which is another naturally soothing element that combined with CBD, can help with Fibromyalgia.
Is CBD Safe?
As with anything, when trying CBD internally you should consult with your health care provider, especially if on prescription medication. Topically, it’s important to insure you have no known allergies with the ingredients as they are often blended with essential oils.
It is also very important that you choose a well known and respected source for CBD products. A reputable company, such as Nature’s Gem CBD, will have independent third party lab testing so you know what you are ingesting. This is important because some manufacturers may add other ingredients, such as melatonin, or other cannabinoid extracts from the plant, including THC into products. THC is the cannabinoid that produces the psychoactive effect making you feel “high”.
The Final Word About CBD For Fibromyalgia
When it comes to taking CBD for Fibromyalgia symptoms, it’s certainly worth looking into. CBD should be considered one tool in the tool box to help with symptoms. Some other tips are:
- Eliminate inflammatory foods such as refined sugars, carbohydrates, and alcohol. Trust us, your body will feel better by giving it proper nutrition. There are many foods that can help with inflammation and incorporating them into your diet will be extremely helpful in managing your symptoms long term.
- Light exercise/movement. It may sound counter intuitive, but make sure to move your body, even on your worst pain days, because it does help. The body is meant to move, even when it is sick. The key is to not overdo it. A little is good, especially when you don’t feel well. Movement is also a natural way to increase serotonin levels, which can help with mood, sleep, etc. Constant inactivity can lead to weight gain, depression, and add more symptoms and complications, which is what we want to avoid!
- Get out in the sun if at all possible. Vitamin D has been shown to have a significant effect as an anti inflammatory agent. Although supplements can help, there is nothing better than natural sunlight. 15 minutes a day can help manage some pain away!
- Be patient when trying something new, like CBD, to help manage symptoms. It took a long time for your body to become out of balance and sick. Little by little, and we mean over years (we know, not what you want to hear), as one symptom starts to come under control, others tend to follow. The first symptom to work on by the way is getting better sleep at night.
- Don’t be afraid to change your dosage of CBD should you incorporate it into your wellness plan. For example, you may find yourself taking higher than normal doses of CBD oil at first because your body may simply need that dosage level, but over time, you may find you need less. In fact, once you learn to use CBD for your body, you will eventually learn to vary your dosage depending on how you feel that day. By the way, this logic extends to other things you do to manage symptoms.
Your body is unique to you and you know it better than anyone else. Listen to it, because it is talking to you – all the time. The best way to understand what your body is saying to you is by starting a log of symptoms, food, weather, medications, how you feel, etc. This log will evolve into a story of your body. You will learn how it feels, what may be causing symptoms, what your symptom triggers are (i.e. weather, food, stress, etc.) what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be adjusted, etc. This story will help you learn how to manage your symptoms along your health and wellness journey.
Lastly, be your own health advocate and do your research. Knowledge is power.
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