MAY 19, 2021 7:29 AM PDT

Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Treatment-Resistant Fibromyalgia

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

An Italian researcher found that long-term use of various cannabis products, including herbal cannabis and oil extracts, may be linked to improvements in pain and other symptoms among patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia when taken in combination with their prescribed medications. 

For the study, the researchers used data from medical reports archived in the pain clinic of Ponderano, Italy. All in all, 35 patients with fibromyalgia were included in the analysis. Frequent comorbidities included vitamin D deficiency as well as hypertension, depression and lower back pain. 

Among the patients included in the analysis, four patients vomited after consuming one sachet of the substance. Therapy was thus immediately stopped for these patients. Another patient experienced side effects including vertigo, palpitations, abdominal tension and nausea after one dose, and thus also discontinued the therapy immediately. 

The rest of the patients continued the therapy for 1 month, three months or 12 months. After one month, 20 out of the 30 remaining patients reported significant analgesic effects. While 17 experienced no side effects, three experienced mild side effects and thus discontinued the therapy from this thereon. Owing to various reasons inducing worries about driving, inability to source cannabis and work reasons, just 12 of the original 35 patients continued the therapy for at least 12 months. 

Among subjects who responded well to the treatment, the author reported that none developed long-term tolerance to medicinal cannabis, meaning none needed to increase their dosages of the substance during the study period. She noted as well however that no improvements were recorded in patients’ anxiety or depression scores. 

“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.” says Manuela Mazza, author of the study. 

While interesting findings, the author notes that there are limitations to the study. Importantly, it was retrospective in nature, meaning the analysis was made based on previously collected data, meaning she could not evaluate aspects including disability with more appropriate questionnaires. The author further notes that medical cannabis treatment was only given to patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia, meaning that its effects on those with treatment-responsive fibromyalgia may differ. 

 

Sources: NormlJournal of Cannabis Research

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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