If you are anything like I was before I began medicating with marijuana, you don’t have a lot of experience, if any, when it comes to using cannabis for medical purposes. For the first seven years of my life with fibromyalgia, cannabis wasn’t legal to use in the state that I lived in. Then I moved to California where marijuana had been legal for medicinal purposes since 1996. Even though it was legal, I resisted trying it for two years. It wasn’t because I was against it or didn’t want to try it, it was my lack of knowledge that held me back. I was clueless about the various methods of medicating with it, what strains to look for, how much to take, etc. What held me back the most was the fear of how much it was going to cost. Today I am going to share how cannabis made life with fibromyalgia livable, different ways to use it, and how to save money while using it.
How does cannabis relieve my chronic pain from fibromyalgia?
I had been failing to reduce the pain and symptoms from fibromyalgia for almost 10 years by the time I chose to medicate with marijuana. During those ten years my doctors had prescribed muscle relaxers, opioids, anxiety medication, antidepressants, and valium (this was for sleep as every prescription sleep aid had failed to make me sleep) to, in their words, treat my symptoms. Oh and let’s not forget Lyrica which was supposed to reduce nerve pain, but instead increased it. The problem is that not one of those pills treated a darn thing. Most did nothing. Some provided a smidgen of relief and occasionally something would mask the pain, but nothing was being treated. With cannabis I was finally treating my symptoms, which made it possible to start living again. Here is how cannabis has helped me with some of my symptoms in the past six years.
Insomnia: Before cannabis I either couldn’t sleep for more than 20-60 minutes at a time or I fell into a sleep coma (fatigue so severe that it is impossible to stay awake) for days at a time. From my first dose of medical marijuana I have been sleeping like I should. I sleep every night and as the years have passed my need for daily naps has decreased drastically. Yes, I still have an occasional sleepless night, but pain is no longer my reason for not sleeping. Pain no longer wakes me up in the middle of the night, nor do I wake up feeling like I have been hit by a bus!
Fatigue: Experiencing a proper restorative sleep each night decreased my daytime fatigue. In addition I was no longer waking up with a prescription pill induced hangover. Instead of waking up feeling groggy I began waking up with a clear mind, minimal pain, and with excitement about what I might do that day. Six years later and I no longer need daily naps. Sure I take a few naps throughout the week, but taking one or two naps daily is no longer my norm.
Pain: Cannabis relieves and decreases muscle, joint, and nerve pain. It also serves as my muscle relaxer. It does this by reducing inflammation. Another way cannabis helps me reduce pain is that it doesn’t mask my pain like opioids did. With a high enough dose of opioids I felt like I could do anything and I did! The problem with that was that my body was not getting the rest it needed and what I was doing was making the problem worse. With marijuana I experience a decrease in my overall pain level. It eliminates my reactionary pain and reduces my pain sources to a tingling sensation. This sensation has made it possible for me to feel and acknowledge where my pain sources really are. With this knowledge I am aware of when I am aggravating them or causing another issue. Before cannabis, my pain was widespread, I had no idea where the sources were. Now I know exactly what areas I need to pay special attention to or what precautions need to be taken.
Brain fog: Some may find this funny, as they may assume that medicating with cannabis means being high. However, that is not always the case. You see, it is possible to medicate with marijuana without getting high by micro dosing or using CBD only products. Before cannabis I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Forget watching a movie or reading a book. Now I not only can watch and read whatever I want, I am also able to comprehend what I absorb. I can hear what people are saying. I no longer avoid conversations.
Depression and anxiety: For close to a decade I was told that anxiety and depression were to blame for my pain….. However, I knew that the truth was that pain was to blame for my depression and anxiety. And for the most part I was right! Experiencing less pain and becoming more in tune with my body gave me the ability and insight to live a better life. I was able to focus on areas of my life that were also creating emotionally challenging situations and could finally find joy in my life. I still battle my demons, but they are no longer controlling my life.
You don’t have to smoke it unless you want to
The first objection most give me when considering medicating with cannabis is that they don’t want to smoke it. Well, unless your state’s medical marijuana laws dictate that smoking is the only legal way to medicate with it, your options are plentiful. You may choose to use edibles, tinctures (an oil that you place under your tongue), or topical oils. You can use a vaporizer or pipe if you don’t want to smoke a joint. Some people can’t stand the taste of cannabis and prefer to take it capsule form. Check out the menus on WeedMaps or Leafly to see what your local dispensaries have to offer.
What strains are best for fibromyalgia?
According to patient reviews on Leafly these are the best strains to combat symptoms and pain from fibromyalgia: Blue Dream, Harlequin, Cannatonic, Critical Mass, Tahoe OG, Granddaddy Purple, GSC (f.k.a Girl Scout Cookies), Blueberry, Bubba Kush, and Headband. Click here to learn more about these strains and how they help with fibromyalgia. Finding your perfect strain may take some experimenting. I also find that I need different strains depending on the season, my activity level, and other factors. No matter which strain you try first, remember this important tip: start slow!! You will be surprised by how little cannabis is really needed to achieve your desired results.
How to get your recommendation and purchase meds without going broke
If medical marijuana is legal in your state you will need to obtain a recommendation or certification. Your primary doctor or disease specialist will most likely NOT be the one who prescribes cannabis for your chronic illness. You will need to search online or look on WeedMaps or Leafly to find a marijuana recommending doctor near you. The cost of seeing this doctor and to receive your recommendation/certification is NOT covered by insurance (nor do we want it to be, but we will discuss that another day).
Another way to save money is to figure out which form and or strain you need the least amount of. Don’t always assume that the dosage noted on the package is the least amount recommended. Example, a 100mg pack of candy from FlavX is broken up into ten 10mg doses. However, because of the strength of their product I only needed half and each bag provided 20 nightly doses. I would get 6-8 doses out of a quad dose Cheeba Chew.