Research, Treatment

Using Cannabis to Help Ease the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

November 16, 2020 03:30 pm ET
Using Cannabis to Help Ease the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia plagues individuals with chronic pain, what’s worse is that it’s is still poorly understood. This condition can have individuals appearing fine, but that’s just a facade as it is largely considered to be an invisible illness. This means that individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia are suffering from a host of symptoms, which only they can experience and see. Additionally, it is challenging to explain just how difficult it is to have this condition since the symptoms vary from day to day. Fortunately, a new study has found promise in cannabis as a means of alleviating fibromyalgia symptoms

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and issues with sleep, memory, and mood. Researchers have explained that this condition may be amplifying the painful sensations through influences the manner in which the brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals. The condition is largely unknown due to the poor understanding of its pathogenesis, which makes it challenging to treat. However, it is known that fibromyalgia presents are life-changing events such as trauma, major surgery, and psychological stress, while some develop over time with no clear trigger. 

This condition is reported, by this new study, to affect 3-6% of the world’s population, most of which are women. They also explained that many patients are being prescribed the highly-addictive pharmaceutical medication containing opiates but that patients tend to develop a low-morale towards pharmaceuticals.

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia but there are available medications for controlling the symptoms of the condition, including exercise and relaxation measures. Current medications for symptoms have also been reported to be unreliable according to the new study.   

What Are the Symptoms?

The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Widespread pain
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive difficulties including impairment of abilities to focus, pay attention, and concentrate.

All these symptoms can’t be seen by others, except for the consequences which accompany them (such as missing events due to extreme fatigue)…thus explaining why this condition is considered an invisible illnessIt was also explained that fibromyalgia often coexists with other conditions such as:

Using Cannabis for Fibromyalgia is Backed By Multiple Studies

Fibromyalgia causes a major reduction in the quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with the condition. This is why it has become so important to find an effective means of alleviating the effect of this condition on the person and their life. 

The study was conducted by a group of researchers at Luigi Sacco University Hospital in Milan, Italy. The team recruited 102 patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in order to access the efficacy of medicinal cannabis. The patients were monitored over a period of six months and were administered with two different cannabis oils, one containing 22% THC and <1% CBD and the other containing 6.3% THC and 8% CBD. The team monitored the severity of fibromyalgia in the patients by making use of medical scales, such as Fibromyalgia Assessment Scale (FAS) and Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR). The researchers also gave patients the option to reduce or stop taking their current medications, of which 47% of patients did. 

The study assessed the impact of medical cannabis on fatigue symptoms, quality of sleep, anxiety, depression, and pain related to the condition and consumption of cannabis. The results revealed that 44% of the patients reported improved sleep quality, 42.4% reported alleviated anxiety, 50% reported improvement in depression, and a 33% overall improvement on the FIQR. 

Additionally, a 2011 study found that patients reported significant improvement in pain relief, stiffness, relaxation as well as improvement in their perceived well being. While another study assessing chronic pain conditions (such as fibromyalgia)found that cannabis alleviated pain and improved their quality of sleep. Another study published in 2018 reported that cannabis displays evidence of being an effective replacement for opiate pharmaceuticals, a common medication that fibromyalgia patients are often prescribed. Lastly, another 2018 study conducted in Israel assessed patients with fibromyalgia who used medical cannabis. The study found that most patients reported positive experiences and that they got favorable outcomes such as a reduction in pain and better sleep. 

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