5 Medical Marijuana Strains that Treat Fibromyalgia

Patients affected by Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) know far too well how extreme the symptoms of their condition could be.  Pain from muscle and tendon stiffness may come at the most inappropriate times, and getting a good night’s sleep seems a miracle because resting never feels refreshing.  So far, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved just three medications for the treatment of fibromyalgia: Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella. Much to the many patient’s dismay, though, neither one of these three drugs seems to be effective enough to provide full relief.

According to a survey from the National Pain Report, 60-68% of patients interviewed claim that these three medications did not help them at all. Another 22-32% responded that the drugs approved by the FDA provided them with just moderate relief from their symptoms.  These symptoms often include mental confusion, mood disorders and lack of memory.

On the other hand, a whopping 62% of subjects told the interviewers that marijuana was highly effective like no other therapy they tried so far.

The reasons why medical cannabis can help reduce pain and discomfort in FMS patients are still uncertain, but the verdict on it’s effectiveness is overwhelmingly positive.  What is known is some cannabinoids and terpenes are known to have a seemingly specific effect on a group of biologic receptors referred to as the endocannabinoid system.  However, the full mechanism is still being investigated.

One thing that many patients learn almost immediately is that the effectiveness of marijuana depends on the different strains available. Understanding the differences is then critical to find the best, most useful variety of medical weed to treat fibromyalgia.

The difference between the cannabinoids

All types of cannabis contain more than 80 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids in various concentrations.  The two principal cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The first one is usually found in higher concentration in the Sativa strains, and it is responsible for the “high” effect.  THC induces a subjective feeling of well-being, stimulates focus and creativity and elevates mood, effectively fighting depression and anorexia.  CBD is not psychoactive on its own, although Indica strains that contain a higher quantity of this compound are appreciated for their relaxing properties.  The so-called “stoned” effect counterbalances the anxiety induced by THC, thus helping to reduce pain and stiffness, and provide immediate relief from stress.

Let’s see which specific strains help fight the symptoms of Fibromyalgia Syndrome.

  1. Blue Dream

A hybrid strain with a high THC content (>18%) and a relatively low CBD concentration (.04%), the Blue Dream is an incredibly relaxing cannabis with a spicy taste.  Thanks to its high content of myrcene, a terpene known for its calming properties, Blue Dream soothes pain and inflammation during the day, and fights sleep disturbances during the night.

  1. Harlequin

A Sativa strain with a high content of CBD, Harlequin’s psychoactive effects are remarkably tame for everyone who doesn’t want to cope with too much THC-induced anxiety. This cannabis is mostly appreciated for its potent painkilling effects, combined with a low chance of psychological side effects such as euphoria or confusion.

  1. Black Jack

A cross between Jack Horror and Black Domina, Black Jack is a Sativa strain with a high THC : CBD ratio. Apart from its flavorful taste, this Sativa is great for nausea and depression thanks to its exceptionally long-lasting effects.

  1. Grape Ape

A pure indica strain that crosses Skunk, Afghani and Mendocino Purps, Grape Ape gets its name for its peculiar grape-like flavor and smell. This Indica provides immediate relief from stress, anxiety and nervousness, but it is also used to improve the mood and fight off chronic or recurrent pain.

  1. Critical Mass

Another heavy Indica strain is a preferred treatment for insomnia, mood disorders and complete relaxation. Thanks to its full-body effects, it is also used as a potent remedy for muscle spasms and tendon stiffness.

Is it legal to buy and cultivate medical cannabis in California?

After deciding which medical marijuana strain is the most appropriate to treat your fibromyalgia, you can finally purchase or grow it in California.  After the Ballot Proposition  215 was approved to expand the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, California citizens are legally allowed to cultivate or possess their own plants of cannabis after a licensed doctor provides them with a written recommendation.  If your medical records must show that you suffer from fibromyalgia and that conventional treatment was not sufficient to adequately manage your condition, you can get a recommendation.

If you do not want to grow your own strains, you’re not out of luck when it comes to getting your medicine.  Many dispensaries offer weed delivery in SF at very affordable prices. You can also choose from a variety of different cannabis products such as tinctures, concentrates and vaporizers.

Before you decide which strain is better to treat your fibromyalgia, you should always seek your physician’s advice.  With so many options and varieties, confusion is perfectly understandable, so don’t be afraid to ask information about symptoms, effects and treatment with different types of medical marijuana.  That’s what your doctor is for!

Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.

REFERENCES:

  1. Atakan Z. Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2012;2(6):241-254. doi:10.1177/2045125312457586.
  2. Appendino G, Chianese G, Taglialatela-Scafati O. Cannabinoids: occurrence and medicinal chemistry. Curr Med Chem. 2011;18(7):1085-99.
  3. Andre CM, Hausman J-F, Guerriero G. Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules. Frontiers in Plant Science. 2016;7:19. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.00019.

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