A chronic pain condition that affects 10 million people throughout the US and an estimated 3-6% of the world population, fibromyalgia has perplexed the medical community for many years. Symptoms range from widespread pain to nausea, to sudden mood disturbances. And while many factors are associated with the disorder, no single cause has been identified.
Because so little is known about the nature and causes of fibromyalgia, treatment options for those who suffer from it are relatively limited. But the recent rise of the medical cannabis market may open a new door for fibromyalgia patients. Recent research is testing the viability of marijuana as a potential treatment for pain and nausea often associated with fibromyalgia.
Early Research Is Promising
CBD, the active component in marijuana, has been shown to be effective in treating chronic pain. Research on the subject remains relatively limited because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. But the few studies that have been carried out suggest that cannabis has serious potential as a pain reliever, and could possibly serve as an alternative to dangerously addictive opioid pain medications.
Now, researchers are working to understand if the drug might have a similar effectiveness against the pain felt by fibromyalgia patients. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology administered medical cannabis to fibromyalgia sufferers from two Israeli hospitals. Each of the 26 patients in the study reported improvements in their symptoms after treatment began — 50% of them stopped taking other medications for fibromyalgia.
Earlier research from the journal PLoS One found that fibromyalgia sufferers who smoked marijuana recreationally experienced significantly less pain and stiffness found it easier to relax, and reported better general well-being than those who did not. This research only included patients who smoked marijuana recreationally, meaning that the use of cannabinoids designed specifically to target the symptoms of fibromyalgia could presumably have made an even bigger impact on patients’ symptoms.
Hurdles Still Ahead
All this research may be promising, but the fact is that much of it is limited in scale. More studies with larger sample sizes will need to be carried out before medical cannabis can gain widespread acceptance as a legitimate fibromyalgia treatment.
Luckily, hurdles that previously stood in the way of such research are rapidly falling away. Ballot initiatives in states across the country are legalizing medical cannabis, slowly removing the stigma that had made it difficult for researchers to obtain funding for studies on the medicinal qualities of marijuana in the past. The 2018 midterm elections saw big gains for medical cannabis in Michigan, Missouri, and Utah, as well as several cities in Ohio, making it far easier for residents of these states to obtain medical cannabis for their fibromyalgia symptoms.
What Fibromyalgia Sufferers Can Do
While further research on the topic is needed, both formal and anecdotal evidence suggests that medical cannabis is a viable treatment for symptoms of fibromyalgia. If you suffer from this disorder and are curious about medical marijuana as a potential treatment, then schedule a consultation with the Lakewood Medical Clinic. Our medical experts will work with you to determine an appropriate recommendation for your needs.