Does cannabis help alleviate chronic pain from fibromyalgia? Many sufferers say so. Recently The Times published research suggesting that over 1 million Britons are buying cannabis illegally to treat their symptoms, many with chronic pain. CBD supplements are everywhere, popping up in creams, lip balms and even soft drinks. However, in the UK accessing authentic medical cannabis, or medical grade CBD isn’t straightforward.
In 2018, Sky reported that Carly Barton, from Brighton, became the UK’s first fibromyalgia sufferer to receive a prescription for medical cannabis. The NHS currently does not fund the treatment, so patients like Carly have been paying up to £2,500 for three months’ treatment. Although still not available on the NHS, specialist clinics have launched in the UK, and treatment has become more affordable. ‘We’re starting to see prices improve. What was out of reach for most patients last year is now becoming more affordable, says Dr Samuel Murray, General Manager of Cannabis Access Clinics UK. ‘Most patients seen by our clinic can expect to pay between £5-10 per day for their prescription medication, which is comparable to what some high street retailers are charging’
At present, it is not possible to gain access to medical grade CBD or medical cannabis for fibromyalgia or chronic pain through the NHS, with NICE suggesting that more UK based evidence is needed. To help improve the UK evidence base, Cannabis Access Clinics in conjunction with Applied Cannabis Research has commenced recruiting patients for CACOS UK study, which will monitor UK patients with chronic pain response to medical cannabis treatment. The investigators are also interested whether patients treated with medical cannabis can reduce other prescription painkillers, like opioids. 500,000 Britons have been using opioid painkillers for at least 3 years, costing the NHS upwards of £100M per year.
There is anecdotal evidence that using cbd food supplements can help alleviate pain associated with fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain. However patient responses vary widely. In part, this may be due to inconsisent production techniques, and food supplements not being held to the same strongest standards as medical grade prescription only CBD. Prices vary widely, with some products retailing for more than prescription only medical grade CBD. Recent testing of various CBD supplements revealed that many products did not contain the advertised amount of CBD, or contained no CBD at all. Over the counter CBD supplements are not without risk, and it’s important to let your GP know if you’re taking, or considering taking these supplements.
The truth is, medical professionals don’t know exactly how cannabis helps fibromyalgia sufferers and more research is needed before it becomes more widely prescribed. International research that CBD can indirectly activate serotonin receptors – receptors that play a key role in pain perception, regulation of mood, and reducing inflammation.
Like most medications, using cannabis as medicine can have side effects. For CBD, the most common side effect is dry mouth. Understanding of potential side effects is something that should be discussed with your doctor before commencing treatment, just like any other medication.
Medical cannabis is legal in the UK. However, this doesn’t mean that medical CBD or medical cannabis is easily accessible. The NHS currently only prescribe cannabis as medicine as a last resort for select conditions. At present, Fibromyalgia, isn’t one of these, with treatment only available at private clinics. If you’re considering taking CBD supplements, we recommend that you discuss this with your GP. At Cannabis Access Clinics, we can help Fibromyalgia sufferers access expert advice from doctors experienced in this field. To find out how you might be able to Cannabis Access Clinics, click here.