A lot of people think of fibromyalgia as only chronic pain, but it also comes with chronic fatigue, digestive problems, and cognitive issues (often referred to as “fibro fog”). Whether using cannabis or pharma, controlling those and other nagging symptoms can be a challenge.
People ask me all the time how I use cannabis to treat my fibro. All I can tell you is what works for me and my experience of fibromyalgia. I know others who experience it very differently and use different strains and means of ingesting cannabis.
So typically, this is the foundation for how I medicate for my fibromyalgia:
- If I’m at home in the evening, I start to chill out with a nice indica (the more sleepy, stoney end of the cannabis strain spectrum). Closer to bedtime, I eat an indica edible with at least 50mg of THC in it. Then right before bed, I smoke or vaporize another indica, usually something heavier. This is how it works: The smoked/vaporized cannabis gets me to sleep, then the edible keeps me asleep.
- During the day, I prefer a hybrid that’s more of a sativa, which is at the other end of the cannabis spectrum. Sativas are the strains that give you more energy and focus, which is what a patient really needs to combat the fatigue and fogginess that also comes with fibro. I consume small 10-20mg doses of edibles throughout the day, accompanied by vaporizing or smoking if I need an extra little boost.
The real beauty of medicating this way with cannabis is that it’s basically all the same drug, if you want to call it that. When I was trying to control all these symptoms with pharmaceuticals, I had to take a cocktail of drugs. Something for pain. Something for muscle spasms. Something for anxiety. Something for fatigue. Something for digestion. With cannabis, I never have to worry about drug interactions. If I’m a little foggy in the morning from my nighttime edible, it never takes more than a cup of coffee to clear my head. I can’t say the same for any of the sleeping medications I was prescribed.
Please note that the dosage that I find works best for me may not be right for you. When I was just starting to use cannabis, my tolerance and stress level was much lower, so it took much less cannabis to achieve the same effect. A 10mg edible was my limit. So remember to start small and go slow, especially when it comes to edibles. Many others get good, long-lasting results at lower dosages and with different strains.
I’m cautious because some strains, usually sativas, can give me severe anxiety and/or actually increase my pain. So I always test a new strain with just a puff or two to see how it affects me before I consume more. In my experience, edibles are more forgiving, so I don’t seem to get the same negative effects from them.
By the way, if you don’t know for sure if something is an indica or a sativa, check your eyes. When I smoke or vaporize an indica, I immediately feel it around my eyes and face as my eyelids start to get a little fuzzy and heavy.
I also incorporate topicals, tinctures, and concentrates in my daily routine as needed. Applying cannabis topically with lotions, creams and salves can provide immense relief to particularly tight or spastic muscles and tender points. But for the all-over body pain that comes from fibromyalgia, it’s best to work from the inside out, maintaining a fairly consistent level of cannabinoids in your system.
I don’t stop with cannabis. Herbal supplements like calcium to relax muscles, kava for anxiety, and rhodiola rosea for energy, have always been an important part of my routine. I try to avail myself of soothing and therapeutic bodywork as often as possible. I find chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture particularly effective. For exercise, I prefer the gentler movement offered by activities like swimming, yoga, tai chi and pilates.
I can’t say that my cannabis routine will work for everyone with fibromyalgia. To be honest, I’ve never met two patients who experience fibro in quite the same way. And cannabis effects everyone slightly differently, especially when dealing with chronic illness, so each individual must experiment a little to see what works best for them. Learning to self-titrate for effective symptom control without the unwanted high is critical for anyone with fibromyalgia who wants to use cannabis medicinally.
Now that I’ve told you what works for my fibromyalgia, tell me what works for you. How do you use cannabis medicinally? What info or tips would you have to offer someone who is interested in using medical marijuana?