According to Israeli study, cannabis could be an appropriate treatment option for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a disease so poorly understood that not only is there no cure, but doctors thought that psychological rather than physical problems were the sole cause of the disease in patients. Israeli researchers have discovered that medical cannabis therapy can reduce pain and improve the quality of life for most patients with fibromyalgia.
This disorder, which affects more women than men, is characterized by significant musculoskeletal pain with problems of fatigue, sleep, memory and mood. Symptoms sometimes appear after physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Many people with fibromyalgia also have tension headaches (a particular type of headache), TMJ disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies pain by modifying the way your brain processes pain signals.
Pain resulting from fibromyalgia is often described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months and is manifested on both sides of the body and above and below the waist. Victims of the disease often wake up tired, even though they have slept a normal number of hours, but some are waking up to pain and other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. sleep. Some patients complain of a "fibro fog" that prevents them from concentrating, paying attention and concentrating on mental tasks.
So far, the drugs have shown only partial efficacy to relieve symptoms.
Among the suggested factors involved in fibromyalgia, there is genetics: it tends to manifest in families and there may be some genetic mutations that increase the risk of infections. Fibromyalgia can also be aggravated by physical trauma, such as a car crash, or psychological trauma. The pain may be due to repeated nerve stimulation causing a change in the brain of patients due to an excessive increase in the rate of neurotransmitters reporting pain.
But, thanks to a new and important Israeli study, solutions could be brought to the victims of fibromyalgia. They discovered that medical cannabis is an effective and safe treatment, "said Professor Victor Novack, Clinical Services Manager. research at the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine , was conducted by Novack in collaboration with Lihi BarLev Schleider, PhD student at the Center for Cannabis Studies and specialist in internal medicine, Dr. Yiftah Sagi and Professor Mahmoud Abu Shakra, rheumatology expert at the Faculty of Health Sciences from Ben Gurion University.
The experimental study
Sagi, who also works at the Soroka Rheumatology Unit, analyzed data from 367 fibromyalgia patients who had been treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017 in Israel and followed for six months. It would be the largest group of fibromyalgia patients in the world to be treated with medical cannabis.
The study found that after 81 month of cannabis treatment, 81,8% reported a significant improvement in the control of their symptoms, the average pain having decreased from 9,0 to 5,0 (according to the point scale). The characteristics of fibromyalgia such as sleep disorders, depression and weakness showed significant improvement after six months of treatment. In addition, an improvement in the quality of life and daily functioning of patients has been achieved. Finally, the incidence of adverse events was relatively low: 7,9% reported vertigo, 6,7% had dry mouth and 5,4% reported nausea or vomiting.
"The fibromyalgia is a painful disorder with serious consequences for a large number of patients, "said Novack. "But patients continued to suffer from chronic pain, depression and somatic disorders. We now believe that medical cannabis is an additional treatment that can be of benefit to these patients effectively and with relatively few side effects during prolonged treatment. I hope other studies will corroborate our conclusions in the future. "
Safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis in fibromyalgia
Weighing both the success of cannabis treatments and the absence of significant side effects, the researchers concluded that "medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms". And this is good news for many patients for whom standard fibromyalgia medications do not work.
"Given the low rates of dependence and serious adverse events (particularly with respect to opioids ), cannabis therapy should be considered to reduce the burden of symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia who do not respond to standard care, "the authors wrote.
The results of the study add to the existing literature on medical cannabis and fibromyalgia. A study carried out in 2006 by German researchers revealed that oral cannabis treatments ranging from 2,5 to 15 mg THC significantly reduced the symptoms of pain in nine patients over a three-month period. And in 2011, a study conducted in Spain compared the benefits of cannabis treatments for patients with fibromyalgia who do not use cannabis. This study found that cannabis not only relieved pain, but helped reduce almost all the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, from stiffness to drowsiness.