Rx MaryJane: How I use cannabis to treat my fibromyalgia

Medical MarijuanaA 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?



Categories: Advocacy, Healthy Lifestyle, Medical & Research, Mental Health, Patients, Pharma, Women

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27 replies

  1. Hi
    Please
    Reply to my email..
    Im very sick and fighting to control the situation of all the pain
    Are you 100 %pain free when using C?
    Or are you still feeling pain???

    Thank you 💗
    Michelle

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    • Cannabis doesn’t eliminate all my pain, but it does push it to the background so I can deal with it. With fibromyalgia, sleep is key, and cannabis helps a lot with that. I’ll look for your email. ~Teri

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    • Hi, I was extremely Anal about using marijuana for ANYTHING but literally in one week was in so much pain from Fibro,I was in a wheel chair,with sleep paralysis and seizures. I was taking every test they could give me and every drug i could consume and NOTHING made it better,.Finally started to look up edible Marijuana,I have asthma so smoking was out of the question. I had a friend give me Cannabutter I was so scared to even try it but was desperate,I couldn’t move on my own i had to be carried to the bathroom & never slept,.So I took my thumbnail and scraped the smallest ammt you can imagine mixed it in my coffee within 2 hours i was passed out and woke up 20 hrs. later. Did it two more times the same ammt. & was walking on my own & getting in the car. I did take it a third time in one day felt an anxiety attack coming and my Sweet husband was like HERE grab your Dulcimer and start playing so once my mind got off the feeling i was feeling pretty good,.i will always do this before i ever go back to,what they were doing to me,I had IV lidocaine treatments,Vicodin,Muscle relaxers etc…and yes go slow it’s very potent but I’m a Light weight.meds hit me very quickly. Feel the need to ask anymore questions I’ll be more then happy to help ya out. 🙂

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      • I’m so glad you found cannabis and it worked for you! What a blessing it is for us fibro folks. Thank you for sharing your story.

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      • Hi Jill I am so happy you got great relief from Cannabutter. Is that the brand name? Do you have a dispensary that you think is very helpful working with you? I, too get very little unrestorative sleep and for me I can’t fall a sleep. So, may want to try this but know that not everyone is the same in what works for them. Leslie in Denver

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  2. What a great website!
    Any advice for those of us, like myself, suffering with Fibromyalgia who live in States which Medical Marijuana still has not become legal?
    I’ve been writing letters to our Legislators and Representatives here in N.C. through Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org).
    Thank you for any suggestions and/or advice.

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  3. I just got my medical marijuana card and I have fibromyalgia never smoked weed and would prefer edibles so please help me in finding the right strain thanks

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    • Start with an edible at night so you can get some sleep. As far as stains go, it depends on what symptom you’re treating. Pain? Fatigue? Fibro fog? Insomnia? You’ll have to go through some trial and error to find what works best for you. Start a log so you can keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Teri, I still have not found relief for sleep for my fibromyalgia. So, thank you for sending me this. It takes a lot to get me to fall a sleep so anyone with fibro I am open to suggestions of a really strong edible or tincture. I tried Loves oven’s edible and it did nothing to help and a tincture called Relief by Mary Medicinals. I don’t want to have to smoke it as I found that too painful for me. Thanks Leslie in Denver

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  4. My question is I live in a state where it isn’t legal. I too cannot smoke it with asthma. My question is where would I get edibles? Who do I get them from? I don’t want to go to. High school kid who knows someone who sells it and not know what I’m getting. Suggestions on how to use it in edible form cookies, baked? I’m pretty naive about all of this.. My email is hughes4609@gmail.com

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    • It’s tough in states where medical marijuana is still illegal. You may want to check out one of the CBD products, like https://haleighshope.com/ and the Flowering Hope Foundation. Although their web site focuses on kids, their products are for adults too. Helpful for pain and anxiety. No high. However, CBD alone may not have full effect without a little THC, which, unfortunately, may only be available to you through the black market. In that case, you would have to make your own edibles. Here’s a web site with some good information on all the ways you can do that. http://www.thestonerscookbook.com/

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  5. Hi, I still have not found any edible, tincture etc. from many brands that were recommended to me for insomnia that work for me. My question is how does the MJ work in ones system when they are on drugs for fibromyalgia say Tramadol but nothing stronger as far a mixing with these drugs? I am wondering if for me that could play a role in why they don’t work. I am sure their haven’t been any studies on how mj and drugs mix in ones system. I also take a lot of supplements/vitamins and again wonder if mixing these and the meds with the mj could be an issue. I am not sure if anyone else has ever thought of this in the studies now or for future ones.

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    • This is from my friend Martha at Healthy Choices Unlimited.

      Tramadol and cannabis are both neurotransmitter stimulants. Tramadol increases dopamine levels, which causes severe insomnia. THC affects GABA levels, which increases dopamine levels, which can cause insomnia in some strains. So she’s antagonizing the effects of the tramadol with THC.

      NO caffeine of any type should be taken with tramadol. How much excercise is she getting? As for supplements, B vitamins and L-carnitine can both disrupt sleep if taken after noon, and sometimes just if taken anytime.

      Also, dose matters. Is she taking enough cannabis?

      Try stopping all supplements for a week, and going to a CBD only or high CBD high myrcene strain. Take at least 2mg CBD per 20lbs of body weight of CBD to start and go as high as triple that. The CBD should not antagonize the dopamine pathway.

      Tramadol is notorious for causing insomnia.

      L-tryptophsn is the precursor to serotonin and can help people sleep. It’s in warm milk like your grandma gave you to sleep and turkey causing thanksgiving stupor.

      Try the 5HTP version from 50-150mgs.

      Good luck

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      • L-tryptophan (5HTP) and L-carnitine are amino acids. You should be able to find them in a reputable health food store or order online.

        Myrcene is a terpene in cannabis, a chemical that gives it flavor and smell.

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        • Hi Teri, Decided since I seem to be so complicated with my Tramadol to try another doctor on S. Broadway and Evans named Dr.Allen Shackleford and wondered if you have ever heard of him. He is booked out till mid June so have some time to get my questions figured out for his half hour appointment. He asks you bring in any medical records so I am hoping in a half hour which is pretty short I can get the dosing and strains and how they interact with Tramadol figured out. He is the only doctor I have heard of in the Denver area other than Boulder and Dr. Cohen. Have you heard of any more in Denver?
          I have been trying Myofascial release work for the last four months but have yet to get any pain relief. I know it is a last resort therapy and very expensive as I am up to $3,000 but will continue with it for another month or two. I am doing the John Barnes method which involves a lot of emotional work. One of the few therapist trained in this in the Denver area happen to be at Park Meadows Mall area so at least she is close.

          I am glad to see the Jake Plummer is trying to raise money for his study of the effects of CBD on football players and is using a researcher from John Hopkins to really study the ins and out of CBD. I imagine it will be a couple years till it all comes together but good for him for starting the process!!!

          Hope all is going well for you and your Mom is going well.
          Leslie

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          • Dr. Shackelford is AWESOME! Very knowledgeable. A great choice of doctors.

            I also recommend Healthy Choices Unlimited on Colfax. Martha is a wealth of information.

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  6. I’ve been in pain management for years, doctors just throwing pills at me. Until, of course, they get a little pressure from the DEA, then they pull them with no care or concern over how we are to deal with a dependancy. Not to mention the unbearable pain, etc that prompted us to accept meds to begin with. I’m finally taking advice from friends, and family, who have been hip to these benefits for a while. My sister had me try girl scout cookies…it helps, a lot, but I did experience some uncomfortable anxiety. I found if I took more, it passed, but then I was more relaxed/sleepy than I care to be (all the time). Your plan of attack sounds genius, and I don’t doubt will be life changing for me. So, thanks for that! What I’m wondering,(because it sounds like our needs and complaints are pretty similar) which hybrids work best for daytime, in your experience? Can you recommend one (or two) that I can still get stuff done on, that is less likely to cause anxiety? I’m super grateful for your help. And, so glad you (and so many of us) have found some relief.

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    • Hi Cherish. Sorry to hear you’re struggling with chronic pain, but I’m glad you’re starting to explore cannabis as an option. It’s hard to recommend strains because the names aren’t consistent across the country. However, you might look for strains like Blue Dream and Flo during the day. I find that staying close to a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD is good during the day. Some strains bring on more anxiety for me too, but sometimes if I wait 15-20 minutes it passes, but not always.
      ~ Teri (RxMaryJane)

      Like

Trackbacks

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