Marijuana Treats Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Finds New Study
According to a new study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, adjunctive marijuana use is associated with improvements in pain and other symptoms in patients with refractory fibromyalgia. The study is titled Medical cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome: A retrospective, open-label case series.
For the study researcher examined the long-term use of various types of marijuana preparations (e.g., herbal cannabis, oil extracts, etc.) in a cohort of 38 patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia. According to NORML, who first reported on the study, participants in the study consumed cannabis for up to twelve months in combination with their prescribed medications.
The study found “significant improvements were observed” following the initiation of cannabis therapy in most patients. Participants were most likely to report reductions in pain, as well as declines in their disability index and overall symptom severity scores. Most subjects who were responsive to medical cannabis reported experiencing “no or mild side effects.” Subjects also did not appear to develop long-term tolerance to the substance, as patients had no need to increase their dosages of medical cannabis over the duration of the study period. No improvements in patients’ anxiety or depression scores were reported.
The study concludes by stating that “The current study revealed the positive effects of MC [medical cannabis] therapy in some patients with FMS [ fibromyalgia syndrome] and resistance to conventional treatment. Thus, cannabinoids may be considered for FMS treatment, although several side effects may still occur. Further studies are warranted to confirm these findings.”
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “A growing number of patients with fibromyalgia are experimenting with cannabis products. This study’s findings add to the growing body of literature indicating that cannabis is a promising alternative therapeutic option for many of these patients.”
Below is the full abstract of the study:
The use of cannabis for treating fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) has not been comprehensively investigated. Thus, we have assessed the efficacy and adverse events (AEs) of short- and long-term medical cannabis (MC) treatment for FMS.
Data were obtained from medical reports archived in the pain clinic of Ponderano (Italy; retrospective study). FMS patients, who were resistant to conventional therapy, received licensed MC with various Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) content, as powdered whole flowers (decoction or vaporization) or oil extracts. Demographic and clinical parameters, including Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Widespread Pain Index (WPI), Severity Score (SyS), and side effects, were obtained after 1, 3, and 12 months. Data were analyzed with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests for paired data.
Thirty-eight patients were included. Thirty, 18, and 12 patients continued therapy for 1, 3, and 12 months, respectively. Significant improvements (p < 0.01) were observed in NRS, ODI, WPI, and SyS at 1 month; in NRS, ODI, and WPI at 3 months; and in NRS, ODI, and SyS at 12 months. Therapy was interrupted by 17 patients (48.6%) owing to nonserious AEs according to the FDA. The most common side effects were mental confusion (37%), dizziness (14%), nausea/vomiting (14%), and restlessness/irritation (14%). The median daily dose of milled flowers administered as THC-dominant MC and hybrid MC (with similar THC/CBD ratio) was 200 mg/day and 400 mg/day, respectively. After 3 months of titration, the median content of THC administered with THC-dominant MC cultivars was 46.2 mg, and of THC + CBD administered as a hybrid MC cultivar, was 23.6 mg + 38 mg. At 3 months, median THC content administered in the oil extract of the THC-dominant MC cultivars was 9.7 mg, while that of THC + CBD administered in the oil extract of the hybrid MC cultivars was 1.8 mg + 2 mg.
MC may represent an alternative treatment for patients with FMS who are unresponsive to conventional therapy. However, its application may be limited by the incidence of nonserious AEs.