A new study shows that medical cannabis can improve the effectiveness of standard pain relief treatments for fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia refers to a condition characterized with systemic musculoskeletal pain. Often experienced in conjunction with sleep and mood disorders, fatigue and memory problems. Many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, anxiety, depression, tension headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia. So doctors usually prescribe pain medication to treat the muscle stiffness and pain associated with the disease.
Recent research suggests that cannabis can help treat the chronic pain. Inflammation or sleep disturbances that most fibromyalgia patients suffer from. Many previous studies showed that medical cannabis can be an effective alternative to traditional pain relievers. But this study suggests that cannabis can increase the effectiveness of standard treatments.
Researchers from the rheumatology units of five Italian medical institutions recruited 102 fibromyalgia patients who had not previously responded well to conventional treatments. Each of these subjects received one of two extracts in oil form: Bedrocan, a formula containing 22% THC but less than 1% CBD; and Bediol, an oil containing 6.3% THC and 8% CBD.
For 6 months, patients used a standard questionnaire to assess their symptoms, overall fatigue level, and sleep quality. Patients also asked to self-report their levels of depression and anxiety using standard psychological assessment scales. Throughout the study, subjects allowed to reduce or stop taking typical analgesics they took in order to treat symptoms.
The study, reports that half of the patients experienced fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety after taking the cannabis oils. Only one-third of subjects reported that cannabis treatments improved their fibromyalgia symptoms. But 44% of patients reported an improvement in the overall quality of their sleep. Besides, 47% of subjects were able to reduce their use of standard pain relievers, or even stop using them altogether.
The authors of the study concluded that the addition of cannabis offers a potential clinical benefit in patients with fibromyalgia, particularly those with sleep disorders … The retention rate and changes in concomitant analgesic therapy reflect the effectiveness of medical cannabis in improving patients’ quality of life.
Because of the small cohort size and the observational nature of the study, the investigators recommend that further clinical trials be conducted to “confirm these data, identify subgroups of fibromyalgia patients who are susceptible to MCT, and establish the most appropriate dosage and duration of therapy.