Persons with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) are only too aware that effective pain relief for symptoms of this disorder is elusive. An online survey of over 1,300 fibromyalgia patients by the National Pain Foundation and National Pain Report suggests that medical marijuana may be more a more effective form of treatment than currently available pharmaceuticals for FMS pain symptoms, and not just by a little bit, but far more effective at treating these symptoms than any of the three prescription drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the disorder.
The National Pain Report’s Paul Anson notes that based on testimony of most who have tried the three FDA-authorized drugs for treatment of fibromyalgia: Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella, they mostly don’t work, although they do generate billions of dollars in annual sales for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories and other drug makers.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that 5 million Americans suffer from FMS, which is characterized by deep tissue pain, parasthesias, digestive and bowel dysfunction, fatigue, headaches, depression, insomnia, and an array of other symptoms. There is no known cure and FMS is notoriously difficult to treat.
Anson reports that 60% of survey respondents asked to rate effectiveness of Eli Lilly’s Cymbalta (Duloxetine), who tried the drug said it didn’t work for them, while only 8% rated it “very effective,” and 32% said it helps a little.
Regarding Pfizer’s Lyrica (Pregabalin), 61% said it didn’t work at all, 10% said rated it “very effective” and 29% said Lyrica helps them a little.
As to effectiveness of Forest Laboratories’ Savella (Milnacipran), 68% of those who said they’d tried the drug said it didn’t work, only 10% said it was “very effective” and 22% said it helps a little.
On the other hand, Anson says that while some 70% of the people who responded to the survey said they had not tried medical marijuana — unsurprising since it is still illegal in most states and many countries — those respondents who said they have tried marijuana rated it as being far more effective than any of the FDA-approved drugs. Sixty-two percent who have tried cannabis said it was “very effective” at treating their fibromyalgia symptoms. Another 33% said it helped a little and only 5% said it did not help at all.
However, even if you live in one of the four states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana use for adults, or the 23 so far that have legalized medical marijuana laws, picking the most optimum Cannabis strain for the particular ailment of focus will be confusing for the neophyte.
Pain, including Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) pain, is one of the most common applications for which medical marijuana is indicated, and the likelihood of success will vary based on the Cannabis species and the individual’s own physiology, as well as certain cannabinoids and terpenes being known to have areas of specialization such as pain.
The two main medically active constituents, among the more than 60 chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant are the cannabinoids Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is better-known as the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but high-CBD strains are recently getting more attention from the medical community because it is non-psychoactive, ie: CBD can’t make you high, which, while disappointing to recreational marijuana users, makes it more clinically appealing as a medicine.
The medical marijuana advocacy site LeafScience.com has posted a brief guide to the highest-CBD strains, such as Charlotte’s Web and Avidekel, and happily, plenty more help in selecting a strain that will be effective for you is available on the Internet. For instance, Leafly, claimed to be the world’s largest cannabis information resource, provides a number of ways to determine which strain or strains will be the most successful for treating your particular pain symptoms, be they inflammation-related, headaches, neuropathic pain, muscle soreness, spinal injury, fibromyalgia, or other sorts of ailments.
Especially useful will be a new guide to the best cannabis strains for treating pain posted this week by Leafly’s Bailey Rahn, who says the guide is informed both by user-submitted strain reviews and by chemical profile data. Because every person’s experience is so individually nuanced, Rahn recommends sampling several of the suggested strains, and/or perhaps experiment with them in different forms, like topicals, oils, or transdermal patches. Smoking and vaporizing are quick-acting delivery methods for marijuana’s painkilling properties quickly, but Rahn suggests also considering non non-smoking consumption methods and cannabis concentrate alternatives to get a frame of reference for the full spectrum of medical marijuana options available.
You can also use the Leafly Explorer’s symptom and condition filters to find out what has worked for other patients, and check the “Availability” tab on their strain pages to see if they’re available at a marijuana shop or medical marijuana dispensary near you.
For example, the guide notes that the Cannabis strain called “ACDC” is one of the most effective Cannabis variants for treating generalized pain, such as FMS pain, due to its one-two punch of the cannabinoids CBD and THC, and that as a general rule, cannabis strains with high amounts of both THC and CBD tend to make the best pain medicines, including several other strains that have chemical profiles similar to ACDC’s. Additionally, Rahn says high-THC strains are also effective pain-relievers, and that many people find that heavy indica strains such as Blackberry Kush and Mazar I Sharif are particularly effective at killing pain.
To help with identifying various therapeutic Cannabis strains by appearance, Ross’ Gold, a Canadian Medical Cannabis branding company, has posted a handy visual guide to various strains:
Ross’ Gold was founded and is chaired by Canadian professional snowboarder and Olympic Gold Medalist Ross Rebagliati who won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in snowboarding at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. You can watch Rebagliati’s winning run and the medal ceremony here.
Growers for Ross’ Gold, launched in tandem with the Canadian government’s changes in medical marijuana legislation. Our MMPR applicant growers will produce strains categorized in tiered podium levels called Ross’ Platinum, Ross’ Gold, Ross’ Silver and Ross’ Bronze with specific THC/CBD levels tailored to a variety ailments and illnesses to provide customers with a straightforward and simple process of selecting the best strain for their particular needs.For more information, on medical Cannabis strain selection, see:
The National Pain Report
National Institutes of Health
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