Fibromyalgia is a chronic health disorder characterized by widespread pain in the soft tissue, joints, muscles, and tendons. Those living with fibromyalgia are painfully aware of how this chronic condition severely impacts their health and well-being.
Since prescription pain medications are considered ineffective for fibromyalgia pain; doctors are hesitant to prescribe them.
To combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia, doctors typically prescribe anti-depressant and anticonvulsive medications. These medications impact key neurotransmitters and receptors that regulate pain signals. While antidepressants and anticonvulsive medications help a fair number of fibromyalgia patients, they are not right for everyone.
The medications commonly used to treat fibromyalgia can cause a significant number of potential side effects. Discontinuation can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. In their search for an alternative, many people living with fibromyalgia are turning to safe, natural, hemp oil.
Numerous Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Fibromyalgia is a potentially debilitating chronic pain condition believed to be caused by dysfunctions within the central nervous system. While researchers do not commonly believe fibromyalgia is hereditary, they do believe this chronic pain condition is triggered by a combination of medical, environmental, and genetic factors.
It can take several years of extensive testing before those living with the disorder receive a diagnosis. Doctors need to rule out conditions that mimic fibromyalgia before a determination can be confirmed. That's because fibromyalgia mimics the symptoms of several other chronic health concerns, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
While widespread body pain is the most commonly discussed symptom of fibromyalgia syndrome, those living with the disorder will be among the first to tell you that symptoms extend far beyond pain. Just a few of the multiple symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include:
- Pain in the upper and lower body with no discernable cause
- Allodynia, pain from contact that others would not find painful (water, wind, touch, clothing)
- Intense fatigue that is not resolved with sleep
- Stiffness that is worse after periods of inactivity
- Numbness and tingling (particularly in the hands, feet, and face)
- Frequent bouts of insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Frequent headaches or migraine attacks
- Episodes of depression, anxiety, or other mood disturbances
- Digestive disorders, including diarrhea and constipation
- Difficulty with memory recall or cognitive impairment (fibro fog)
- Problems with thermal regulation (sensitivity to heat or cold)
- Orthostatic hypotension (blood pressure drops from positional changes)
As you can see, fibromyalgia causes symptoms throughout the body. To understand the potential benefits of hemp CBD, it's quite helpful to understand what CBD is and how it works.
Understanding How CBD Influences Your Body
Numerous functions in your body are regulated by a complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors called your endocannabinoid system. The messengers (neurotransmitters) of your endocannabinoid system interact with their corresponding receptors to generate a response from your brain. The influence of the endocannabinoid messengers is determined by their chemical composition. Just a few of the many functions influenced by your endocannabinoid system include:
- Inflammation and pain perception
- Sleep cycles and sleep regulation
- Memory and learning
- Moods and emotional responses
- Neuroprotection and neurodevelopment
- Thermal regulation and metabolism
- Digestive and cardiovascular processes
- Muscle movement
- Immune system function
Your Body Creates the Messengers of Your Endocannabinoid System
The messengers of your endocannabinoid system are called cannabinoids. Your body makes two main cannabinoids, anandamide, and 2-AG. Anandamide and 2-AG are called endocannabinoids because they are created internally. The endocannabinoids in your body are made as needed and quickly broken down by naturally occurring enzymes. Consider the following:
Anandamide plays a direct role in pleasure and reward-seeking behaviors, muscle movement, and appetite regulation. Often referred to as the “bliss molecule” anandamide also plays a distinct role in pain perception and the regulation of pain signals. Research shows that the more anandamide in your system, the less pain you will feel.
2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol) also plays a role in pain perception. 2-AG minimizes pain and reduces inflammation. This endocannabinoid is also associated with energy metabolism, blood vessel function, the suppression of vomiting, the inhibition of tumor growth, cell division, and energy metabolism. You have the highest concentration of 2-AG in your brain, while anandamide is found throughout your body.
Since your body makes its own endocannabinoids, you might assume that you would have all the messengers needed to keep all essential processes functioning smoothly, but it doesn't always happen that way. When your body is under the influence of illness, injury, or stress, the need for endocannabinoids can overtake the supply creating endocannabinoid deficiencies.
Many researchers believe that endocannabinoid deficiencies can cause a significant number of chronic health conditions, including fibromyalgia, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and some neurodegenerative conditions.
Supplementing Potential Endocannabinoid Deficiencies with Hemp Oil
Your endocannabinoid system is named for the family of plants that led researchers to its discovery, cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many (113) cannabinoids found abundantly in cannabis extract. Over the years, researchers have discovered that we are wired to respond to the plant-based cannabinoids in cannabis, including the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD is shown to mimic the effects of your naturally occurring cannabinoids and influence your cannabinoid receptors. By mimicking the messengers and influencing the receptors, CBD has the potential to restore balance to your endocannabinoid system and alleviate the symptoms of any endocannabinoid deficiencies.
Differentiating Between the Potential Sources of CBD
There are two potential sources of cannabidiol, the cannabis plants marijuana and hemp. Most of the CBD available to the average consumer is derived from hemp oil. Marijuana is typically sold through a dispensary in states where it is legal. That's because the oil extracted from marijuana also contains high levels of another cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana's psychoactive effects. Hemp oil does not.
Hemp oil and CBD oil are terms used interchangeably throughout the hemp industry. To be legally classified as hemp, a cannabis plant must contain .3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol or less. This insignificant amount of THC is not enough to cause intoxication, even when hemp oil is consumed in large amounts. If you are against ingesting even trace amounts of THC, you still have options. It's easy to find THC-free CBD. Consider the differences between the following products:
Full-spectrum CBD contains all the elements of the original plant source, including the plant terpenes, additional cannabinoids, vitamins, and minerals. Many CBD enthusiasts believe that full-spectrum products are superior to their isolate counterparts because of an interesting phenomenon is known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect explains how each of the plant elements magnifies and multiplies the effects of the others. Full-spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC.
CBD isolate products contain no THC. CBD isolate products are created from a “purified” form of hemp oil. Through a process called chromatography, the CBD is separated from the other plant compounds. All that is left is a flavorless, odorless powder that is more than 99 percent pure CBD. Isolates can be used to make a variety of products including THC-free tinctures. Because CBD isolate is flavorless, it is often favored by those who like to add CBD to their favorite recipes.
Hemp CBD Has the Potential to Alleviate Fibromyalgia Symptoms
CBD is shown to alleviate pain by increasing the production and blocking the destruction of anandamide, the endocannabinoid responsible for the way your body processes pain signals. It's important to note that the potential benefits of hemp CBD for fibromyalgia symptoms could extend far beyond pain relief.
You may have previously noticed that many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia coincide with processes regulated by your endocannabinoid system. Since so many symptoms of fibromyalgia occur in systems regulated by your endocannabinoid system, it's easy to understand how CBD could provide significant relief from a multitude of fibromyalgia symptoms. Just a few of the reported benefits of hemp CBD for fibromyalgia include:
- Decreasing fatigue and increasing energy
- Reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improving temperature regulation
- Reducing tingling and numbness
- Improving sleep
- Enhancing memory and reducing fibro fog
- Improving digestion
- Enhancing immune system function
It's important to note that CBD is not a medication or a cure for fibromyalgia, or any other known health disorder. Hemp CBD is a safe, natural, dietary supplement that has the potential to protect your body from the impact of endocannabinoid deficiencies. The reported benefits of hemp CBD are based on laboratory tests, animal studies, and the testimonies of those who claim symptomatic relief from CBD.
While hemp CBD is considered a natural dietary supplement, it's important to know that CBD can interact with some medications, particularly anti-depressants. If you are currently being treated for a medical disorder or are under the care of a physician, it's important to discuss your condition with your doctor before adding any dietary supplements to your current treatment plan.