CBD for Fibromyalgia and other conditions is a fairly recent appearance on the landscape of self-treatment.. They can also be quite expensive, so when a company offered me some free samples of their CBD Oils to try and review, I agreed. I have had Fibromyalgia symptoms likely for over 20 years, and been diagnosed for over 10 years. So I have tried nearly all legal alternative therapies, treatments and remedies. And, per the Chronic Pain Clinic here in the Highlands, I have also tried all the prescribable medications on the current market. So forgive me for coming from a perspective of “it will never work”, but at least the chances of placebo effect here are minimal!
How This Review of CBD for Fibromyalgia Works
Below I run through questions about what CBD is and, more importantly, what it is not. And I’ll explain how I ran my tests to see whether these products could be a complement to my current medication for Fibromyalgia. I’ll share the company who gave me the samples at the end, as I want to focus on how my body reacted to CBD.
Fibromyalgia can affect all areas of life, therefore treating it is usually ‘holistic’ (i.e. trying to look at your whole life set-up to better manage the pain). As I am not in a lab, therefore, it’s impossible to isolate the effects of the CBD Oils from the ‘stuff’ of life. But I will try to be as objective as possible! Hope that makes sense?
And lastly, although I link to outside resources from this page, these are not endorsements, but designed to facilitate your own further research should you wish to.
CBD in one sense is a false acronym! It’s actually short for Cannabidiol (yeah one word, not three!). The plant these remedies is made from is Hemp (more on that later). But there are other plants that also contain CBD, or CBD-like chemicals.
In a review of research back in 2008, CBD was described as a non-euphoriant, anti-inflammatory analgesic. Let’s turn that into normal-person-speak.
- Non-Euphoriant: It doesn’t get you high.
- Anti-inflammatory: If your chronic pain or my Fibromyalgia causes inflammation of the muscles, for example, this can reduce that. Fibromyalgia isn’t a problem of inflammation, however pain does, in my case, cause this as a by-product. Having tried to come off anti-inflammatories before I know they help me personally. Ibuprofen is an example of a common anti-inflammatory drug.
- Analgesic: Okay I had to look this one up. This is just another word to mean ‘a drug for fighting pain’. Analgesia means ‘relief from pain’.
So CBD as a chemical is not for getting high, can help reduce inflammation and give relief from pain. Note my use of “can”. What works for you in your fight against pain may not work for me and vice versa.
- We’ve already touched on the fact that CBD is not a chemical for getting high on. The chemical in Cannabis that causes a ‘high’ is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It’s this chemical that can cause hallucinations and all that jazz. I don’t know much about these kind of effects as I’ve not tried anything illegal for my pain – as tempting as tear-inducing Fibromyalgia days can make it.
- CBD is non synonymous with Cannabis, a drug which in the UK gets you a fine for personal use at the very least. Selling/dealing in Cannabis criminal offense in the UK. Though over the years, the UK Government keeps switching whether it should be a Class C or Class B drug. Info here, if you’re interested! Either way, it’s still illegal. Let’s move on.
- Use of CBD is permissible in the UK, for example High Street retailer Holland & Barrett sell it. My free samples did not come from H&B, this is just here for illustration.
Much of this question is sort of answered by the issues above. However, it is helpful to know that both are derived from the same species of plant. The difference seems to be in how it is bred. Cannabis plants are grown for their “psychoactive” properties (the ‘high’). Hemp, however, has trace or negligible amounts of these properties.
Hemp can also be used in other products such as clothing and paper (Source). Apparently the ‘red line’ over which a hemp (legal) product becomes a cannabis (illegal) product is 0.3%. But at that level it’s just easier to say a product has no THC (as the 0.3% essentially means it is THC-free).
Hemp is also said to have more CBD – the entire point of this blog post and my experiment (Source).
I was given a very generous amount of CBD Oils to test and review so I wanted to do tests ‘properly’ and intentionally. Here are my tests done per week and the results of the tests. But first I want to give you what my normal pain medication cycle is like. You need a baseline from which to work.
In the morning I have so many tablets and supplements they aren’t worth listing. And the times I took my CBD Oil mean most of my morning (7am) meds are out of my system anyway, or at least their effect is lessening.
However, my “normal” meds doses at 1pm and 7pm each day are made up of the following:
- Ibuprofen (200mg) × 2
- Nefopam Hydrochloride (30mg) × 1 (Non Opioid Pain-reliever)
- Oxycodone (5mg) × 1 (Opioid Pain-reliever)
- Baclofen (10mg) × 1 (this is a muscle relaxant)
While the times I take my meds aren’t set in stone, I am only allowed to take Nefopam 3 or 4 times daily. So I aim for the 3 times – 7am, 1pm, 7pm – to spread them evenly through the waking day. (Well I go back to sleep for another hour after my 7am’s so they can get to work before I try to do stuff).
However, normally speaking, for about two hours before my next dosage I notice my pain increasing. This can lead to be taking 1pm’s at 12pm and 7pm’s at 6pm (sometimes 5pm on a bad day). I rarely need the 4 doses, so this ‘earlier’ taking of it does not lead to overdosing. But by the 1-hour before mark, I’m usually very conscious I need my meds, sometimes desperately so, due to pain.
The “recommended” dosage per the bottle of CBD Oil/Tincture is: a full pippette 1 or 2 times daily. Filling a pippette in any context is a royal pain in the backside. So I decided week one would be half a pippette (as that’s where it fills to).
When Did I Take the Dose?
I also decided not to take it at the same time as my medications (which are at 7am, 1pm, 7pm, bedtime). This should help reduce likely ‘overlap’ effects. I roughly took the CBD Oil at 11am and 5pm – two hours before my next medication dose.
I mentioned in the normal meds section about my being generally desperate by 5 hours after my previous dose. With the CBD Oil however this desperation had all but faded. I was ready for my next dose when right the time came, but didn’t seem to need them early.
Week 2 saw me having a full pippette – well two ½-pippettes anyway! The approximate dosage time was kept the same.
- Delayed Normal Medication: this time, I was actually able, on some days, to push back the time of my normal medication. Not every day, as “bad pain days” happen fairly regularly. This amounted to gaining 2 hours extra between when I often took my meds (12pm and 6pm) to sometimes not needing them until 2pm/9pm. This effect was not consistent, but the fact that it is possible matters greatly to me.
- Skipped Medication: on two days I actually did not need one of my ‘regular’ doses of meds. While this was not repeated in Week 3, aside from memory lapses, I always need all my doses in normal circumstances. Effectively the CBD Oils replaced a dosage of high-strength pain relieving tablets!
Given that all my normal Fibromyalgia tablets are very strong, I decided to add an extra dose of CBD into my day – just before bed. This was to see whether it could improve my sleep quality.
While, in my life, I cannot perform a better test, it’s not completely failsafe either – at the time of writing I have an under 2 daughter with very disruptive sleep and late bedtime routines. This does have an impact that is likely unmeasurable!
- Easier to get to Sleep: as I find CBD effect seems to kick in around 30 minutes after taking it, having it just before sleep is the right time. I read before putting the light out to get non-screen time. Although I have other night time meds (which are taken before the CBD Oil), getting to sleep is still hard with those meds. I found the CBD seemed to make me more relaxed and so eased getting to sleep.
- No Effect on Sleep Quality: As far as I can tell, having CBD just before bed did not make my sleep more restful or alter the (very high) pain levels I have first thing in the morning.
This one was a little trickier to carry out. For readers that aren’t aware, yes I vape. I vape very low-level nicotine (at the moment, I am slowly cutting it out for a different experiment!). Vaping helps calm nerves and anxiety, which has a knock-on effect on my pain levels. But I don’t vape all that much – a 10ml bottle typically lasts 10-14 days.
Mixing CBD Oil with Vaping E-juice
So when it came to CBD and vaping I had to do some research. I was given a bottle of “DIY CBD Oil”. This is, effectively, neat/raw CBD. i.e. 1ml contains 10mg of CBD. According to the bottle it can be used in vaping liquids and… food. I had to ask a friend of mine who used to make his own ejuices how to go about this and see suggested a 1:10 ratio of CBD Oil to normal ejuice liquid. And they didn’t mix all that easily.
Pre-Test Thoughts / Expectation
I had thought that this may work better than the tincture – assuming that by breathing it in it would get into my system quicker. However, 1ml in 10ml of juice from taking 1ml twice a day was a substantial decrease. So, I didn’t know what to expect.
After 3 days of doing this, my wife said my pain levels were back to what they were before I started using the CBD Tinctures (Tests 1-3). I had just put it down to another Fibromyalgia flare-up. Now pain spikes can be caused by pretty much anything (or a multitude of things). So this flare up is correlated with having stopped using the CBD tincture but I can’t isolate that one aspect of life to call it a cause.
Nonetheless, it is significant that my wife noticed the difference.
An alternative use of the DIY Oil, which I proved I really could not do-it-myself, was to just ingest it. No reason not to, really. While I was using the tincture, that amounted to 10mg twice a day. I have pretty rotten pain levels and am on fairly hefty medication, so increasing the dosage seemed to be a worthwhile test.
Results of This Test
I’m not quite at the end of this test – today is day 6. However on 4 days out of 7, I was able to completely eradicate the need for one whole dose of my medication. If by Day 7 this becomes 5 days, then I will have avoided taking 25 tablets in one week alone. On one of the days I actually avoided taking 2 doses (10 tablets) but I had massive issues with sleep that night (likely unrelated to this test). That meant I had a dose in the middle of the night. That may have happened anyway but as I haven’t managed to repeat the 2-dose-replacement I’m working on one dose on average no longer required if taking CBD instead.
That’s staggering. It also infers that if I were able to increase the dosage again I could probably rule out the second dose more frequently. If I can repeat the 25 fewer tablets a week, that becomes 1,300 fewer tablets in a year.
This makes a clear, financial case, that if one 20mg CBD tablet can replace five mixed-medications (one of which is the opiod they would rather I did not have), then this needs looking at by the NHS. Even if the costs were similar it has to be better for a patient to have one drug made from one legal plant than to be regularly taking other, strong medicines.
The last month has been an interesting experiment to run and I’m grateful to o2CBD for this chance to review their products. See more info on them below. In summary:
- Having the CBD Tincture (full pippette) twice a day had a positive and noticeable impact on my pain levels. It allowed me to almost always defer my meds by at least two hours. And occasionally I found I did not need a dose. Though this is not a consistent outcome.
- For me personally, making a vaping juice had no positive impact on my pain levels. That said, I may need to try another suppliers manufactured vaping juice to test this properly.
- Having CBD just before bed did not have a positive impact on my sleep, though it did help me relax better in order to sleep. However, I may need to re-test that if/when our daughter begins sleeping through the night, for it to be a realistic test.
- Upping the dosage from 10mg twice a day, to 20mg twice a day had a substantial impact that allowed me to skip a ‘regular dose’ on multiple occasions.
- Something I haven’t mentioned is that my hand pain was neither better nor worse on CBD as compared with my other medication. Whether that means it has another aggravating factor, or cause, I don’t know. But it was worth noting.
2019 Update: A Second Test
I don’t need to go into details here, however a test I am running now compares using the DIY Liquid against the capsules. I have found that I am able to delay medications more often by using the CBD capsules compared to taking the DIY liquid directly. I don’t know why this is the case, even those the dosage of CBD was the same. But for me that makes the capsules better, without necessarily increasing the dose.
The only other test would be to introduce a third dose in the day to see if felt pain reduces. Overall my pain is about the same level with the CBD as with my prescribed medication. But that is still a very positive outcome.
However, I won’t run this test because I want to keep on the 20mg twice a day to see if the benefit felt continues as it has. Also needing 60mg in a day becomes quite a high cost and our family finances suck at the moment.
At the time of testing and writing, I had no ties to o2CBD, other than they gave me these products to review. But I was, and am grateful for the chance to see if CBD Oils could improve my Fibromyalgia symptoms.
o2CBD are based in the United States and offer a range of cannabidiol products on their website, so I suggest you see their site for more information. I am based outside the USA so I would not qualify for the free shipping they offer.
The products I have used in this test are:
Here are the product photos – though please forgive the blurriness, I do not have steady hands!
I am very happy with the positive results from these CBD Oils from o2CBD, especially since upping the dose to 20mg. The next step is to see if increasing the dosage has a further effect on my pain levels.
However there is an obvious life cost to this as CBD products are unsurprisingly pricey. The likely cost per month could be £50-£100, which is slightly too much for us at the moment, but I do want to use CBD if it means I can reduce my intake of other medications. That said if I can find ways to increase my digital income from what I do then improving my self-treatment would be an obvious way to spend those finances.
I also intend on trying o2CBD’s variant product in the near future – their 25mg Capsules. Treating Fibromyalgia is usually trial-and-error. Lots of trial and lots of error! But hopefully with small steps I can gradually improve my own situation.