Can Cannabis Treat Fibromyalgia Better Than Prescription Drugs?

Anyone suffering from fibromyalgia will tell you it can be devastating. On some days, simple chores like doing laundry or making breakfast can be exhausting, if not downright impossible. Just ask Teri Robnett, a Denver-based medical marijuana patient’s rights advocate who runs the Rx MaryJane blog:

“There used to be days that I didn’t feel like I could get through the day. I just wanted to cry and go back to bed.”

Only a decade ago, many doctors didn’t believe fibromyalgia was real — “hysterical” women were just imagining it. To this day, it is still misunderstood, and often misdiagnosed. Commonly characterized as a chronic pain condition, a growing body of evidence suggests that fibromyalgia is a complex neurological disorder. Beyond chronic pain affecting muscles and connective tissue, sufferers often complain of joint stiffness, chronic fatigue, insomnia, general weakness, headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, and cognitive issues (e.g., “fibro fog”).

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 5 million Americans — mostly women — have fibromyalgia.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Joint stiffness in the knee

While the cause of fibromyalgia is widely debated, Dr. Ethan Russo, a prominent neurologist and pharmacologist who has dedicated much of his professional career studying cannabis and the endocannabinoid system, theorized that fibromyalgia could be related to Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).

The endocannabinoid system is like the Internet of your body — a communications network facilitating communications between your brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. The primary goal of the ECS is homeostasis — helping your body maintain a stable internal environment.

How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect the Brain?

When the endocannabinoid system is out of whack, health suffers. An imbalance can cause a whole host of issues affecting mood, sleep, gastrointestinal health, muscle spasticity, to name a few — symptoms that are also prominent among sufferers of fibromyalgia, thusly supporting Russo’s theory.

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