A new study suggests that cannabis can be a safe and effective way to treat fibromyalgia.
Cannabis can be a safe and effective alternative medical treatment for the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, according to a new study by a team of researchers in Israel.
“Our data indicates that medical cannabis could be a promising therapeutic option for the treatment of fibromyalgia, especially for those who failed on standard pharmacological therapies,” the study concluded.
The study’s research team aimed to fill a gap in scientific information on the effectiveness of marijuana on fibromyalgia by examining the impacts of using cannabis over a six-month period. Patients were asked to report whether their symptoms disappeared, improved, deteriorated, or remained unchanged at a six-month follow-up.
After six months of medical marijuana use, fibromyalgia patients reported a significant decrease in pain intensity. Before treatment, 52 percent of the respondents reported a high level of pain. After six months, only 8 percent reported similar levels of pain.
Other significant changes after treatment included an improvement in sleep by 73 percent of patients who identified trouble sleeping at intake. An improvement in depression-related symptoms was found in 80 percent of patients who reported depression symptoms prior to beginning medical marijuana treatments.
The study’s authors also indicated cannabis was a safer treatment than for fibromyalgia than opioids, which have been found to be highly addictive.
“Considering the low rates of addiction and serious adverse effects (especially compared to opioids), cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care,” the author’s stated.
The observational study was conducted with 211 fibromyalgia patients in Israel who answered a six-month questionnaire between 2015-2017. The majority of the respondents were ages 40-60 and were primarily female (80 percent).
The study, “Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia” was published this month in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
There is no cure for the chronic pain condition and doctors have not been able to identify what causes fibromyalgia. Women are the most likely to develop the disorder, but it does occur in men and children.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases suggests that many people associate their fibromyalgia to a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event. An estimated 10 million people suffer from the condition in the U.S. and it affects an estimated 3 to 6 percent of the world’s population.
Other Reports on Cannabis and Fibromyalgia
Previous studies examining the efficacy of cannabis for fibromyalgia have also shown promise. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology found that more than half of the fibromyalgia patients examined in the study were able to reduce their prescription drug use, including opioids, by 50 percent after starting to use medical marijuana.
The same study indicated patients reported a reduction in pain, an increase in energy, and some were able to return to work after beginning medical marijuana treatment.
By E.I. Hillin