A new study has confirmed that cannabis can help in the treatment of fibromyalgia. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine and titled “Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia,” shows that patients who are suffering from fibromyalgia experienced significant relief from pain and improvement in sleep and depression symptoms after using medical cannabis.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder associated with widespread pain in the bones and muscles, general fatigue, and areas of tenderness. Such symptoms cannot be determined or measured by tests because they are subjective. This is the reason why it is often misdiagnosed as another disease.
Fibromyalgia has no clear cause. And because of the lack of objective and reproducible tests for this condition, some doctors do question the disorder altogether.
The condition is most often associated with areas of tenderness, often called tender points or trigger points. These points are areas on the body where even light pressure can be painful. The pain caused by these trigger points can also be described as consistent, dull ache. Experiencing this pain for at least three months could result in doctors considering it a symptom of fibromyalgia.
Common trigger points include the top of the shoulders, the back of the head, upper chest, knees, hips, and outer elbows.
Other symptoms of the disease include fatigue, headaches, sleeping for long periods without feeling rested, trouble getting sleep, anxiety, depression, pain or dull ache in the lower abdomen, and difficulty paying attention or inability to focus.
These symptoms may be due to the brain nerves overreacting or misinterpreting to normal pain signals. This, in turn, may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
While doctors and medical researchers do not know the real cause for fibromyalgia, they have already identified certain factors that may work together to cause the condition. These factors include infections, genetics, trauma, and stress.
Results of the study
The six-month study involved 367 fibromyalgia patients in Israel. Considered to be one of the largest of its kind, it was conducted at Tel Aviv’s Tikun Olam cannabis clinic. The patients were treated at the clinic with Tikun science-based varieties, including a high-CBD brand called Avidekel and a high-THC variety called Alaska.
Researchers found that after six months of medical cannabis therapy at Tikun Olam, there was a significant improvement in pain intensity, in fibromyalgia-related symptoms, as well as in the overall quality of life of the patients.
- 81.1 percent of the patients reported overall treatment success;
- 73.4 percent of the patients reported improved sleep;
- 80.8 percent of the patients reported improvement in symptoms related to depression;
- 61.9 percent of the patients reported improvement in their quality of life, including appetite and sexual activity.
It should be noted that over 80 percent of the patients were comprised of women. This figure proportionately corresponds to general fibromyalgia statistics. The disease truly affects more women than men.
The most impressive result of the research showed that most of the patients reduced, ceased, or at least did not change the dosage of their fibromyalgia medication while receiving medical cannabis. Moreover, 22.2 percent of the patients reduced or stopped their dosage of pharmaceutical painkillers or opioids, including Morphine, Oxycodone, Percocet, and Fentanyl.
Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, Tikun Olam’s head research scientist, said that it is commonly accepted that chronic pain can be treated with medical marijuana, but there is very little evidence supporting the role of cannabis in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
He said that they are hoping their findings will lead to more research, as well as more acceptance of medical cannabis as an effective and safe treatment for pain and for other symptoms that are associated with fibromyalgia.