Fibromyalgia is among the most painful medical conditions that women can suffer from. It is commonly known that fibromyalgia is related to chronic pain but arising evidence shows that it’s more of a complex neurological disorder.
The condition can produce anxiety, insomnia, and even cognitive issues, which is more widely known as “fibro fog”. Approximately 2% of Canadians suffer from fibromyalgia, with 80-90% of them being women. The traditional treatment plans are highly inefficient, as most patients confess though.
Fortunately, alternative medicine has found a way to offer an efficient treatment for fibromyalgia in the form of cannabis.
Did you know that endocannabinoid deficiency can lead to fibromyalgia?
Dr. Ethan Russo, a well-known neurologist and pharmacologist, and the director of PHYTECS, has found that Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) is the most likely cause of fibromyalgia. He published his discovery in a study called “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel and other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes.”
It is well-known that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) contains various cannabinoid receptors that interact with the brain, the gut, spinal cord, and other organs. Moreover, the ECS is largely responsible for the proper functionality of homeostasis.
Many psychological processes including mood, appetite, memory, and pain sensation are also controlled by the ECS in many ways. Suggestively, fibromyalgia often causes symptoms like fatigue, chronic pain, insomnia, and even migraine. Dr. Russo believes all of these have a strong connection with ECS deficiency.
He notes that “if endocannabinoid functions were decreased, it follows that a lowered pain threshold would be operative, along with derangements of digestion, mood and sleep among the almost universal physiological systems sub-served by the ECS.”
His theory revolves around the fact that several brain disorders are connected to neurotransmitter deficiencies, including Parkinson’s disease and depression. Basically, the Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency would account for most of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Enter, Cannabis – the most efficient treatment for fibromyalgia
Evidence for the efficiency of cannabis against fibromyalgia is both anecdotical and scientific. Countless people who use cannabis as a medical approach confirm that the plant (Indicas and Sativas) brings great alleviation to chronic pain, insomnia, lack of appetite, and more. For instance, in Canada, this is what the Cannabis utilization statistics showed in 2019:
- 20.3% of all male Canadians used Cannabis recreationally or medically
- 14% female Canadians used Cannabis for the same reasons
That’s not all, though. A survey was conducted in 2013 by the National Pain Foundation on 1300 patients. Approximately 30% of the responders claimed they had previously used medical cannabis to treat themselves. This is a remarkable fact in and of itself, and it goes to show that cannabis does indeed have its merits. Otherwise, people wouldn’t be using it en masse.
The 390 survey participants who were users of medicinal cannabis reveal a staggering conclusion. Here is the general opinion about the efficiency of medicinal cannabis vs. FDA-approved medicine:
- 62% claimed cannabis was a “very effective” treatment for their symptoms / only 8-10% claimed the same for Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Savella
- 33% claimed that cannabis had “helped a little” in alleviating their symptoms
- 5% claimed that cannabis did not help at all / about 60-68% claimed that FDA-approved drugs “[did] not help at all”
As if this wasn’t enough, cannabis is much more price-accessible to people when compared to official medicine. Nabilone and other similar medication cost a small fortune, making them very inaccessible. As for cannabis, needless to say, 99% of strains and products are much more accessible to consumers. The data shows Canadians spent $155M on Cannabis for medical use during the third quarter of 2019.
It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that the “big pharma” corporations are terrified of cannabis and they’re giving it their all to postpone its legalization. Indeed, a survey doesn’t hold the same scientific value as a random-controlled trial (RCT). But then again, cannabis has no adverse side effects, and it’s mostly safe to use. Can the FDA say the same for their medication?
How to get medical cannabis in Canada?
Only recently, Canada legalized the recreational use of cannabis, which led to many research initiatives taking place. After finally coming to terms with the necessity of medicinal cannabis in the lives of people, the decision has been made. However, there are still debates about the medical use of this plant.
Steven Laviolette, a researcher at the Western University, says that “Until this research is properly conducted and invested in, there will be ongoing and justified resistance from the healthcare community to adopt cannabinoid therapies for their patients.”
Currently, pharmacies in Canada can sell cannabis for medical purposes but they will need a license to do so. Patients will receive the products via mail, instead of picking them up from the pharmacy itself. Moreover, anyone receiving medical cannabis will require a medical authorization and an official assessment by an authorized prescriber.
However, 82% of Quebec inhabitants still prefer buying cannabis from the black market, rather than relying on the SQDC (Société Quebecoise du Cannabis). There are various reasons some of them invoke, mainly related to the long queues, short working store hours, and lack of sufficient supplies.
The president of SQDC, Jean-Francois Bergeron himself admits the worrisome supply problems. He says that, after a year of activity, the SQDC sells about 30% of all the cannabis consumed in Quebec, Canada. Moreover, the cannabis industry will continue to grow in the future since substantial funds are being directed toward relevant research. The Catalyst Grant competition started by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research aims to provide $100.000 over one year for cannabis-related research.
The conclusion reveals itself – the data suggests that cannabis deserves much more attention that it is granted, especially by the government. So far, the evidence clearly leans to the higher efficiency and performance of cannabis as a form of medication for various medical conditions, including fibromyalgia, when compared to official medication. We’re glad to see an increase in the research funding initiatives!