According to Israeli study, cannabis could be an appropriate treatment option for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is such a misunderstood condition that not only is there no cure, but doctors have believed that psychological rather than physical issues are the only cause of the disease in patients. Israeli researchers have found medical cannabis therapy to reduce pain and improve quality of life for most fibromyalgia patients.
This disorder, which affects more women than men, is characterized by significant musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood problems. Symptoms sometimes appear after physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually build up over time without a single trigger event.
Many people with fibromyalgia also have tension headaches (a particular type of headache), temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by changing the way your brain processes pain signals.
Pain resulting from fibromyalgia is often described as a constant dull ache that lasts for at least three months and occurs on both sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. Sufferers of the disease often wake up tired, even if they have slept the normal number of hours, but some wake up in pain and suffer from other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and chest 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 only shown partial effectiveness in relieving symptoms.
Among the suggested factors involved in fibromyalgia is genetics: it tends to show up in families and there may be certain genetic mutations that increase the risk of infections. Fibromyalgia can also be aggravated by physical trauma, such as a car accident, or psychological trauma. The pain can come from repeated nerve stimulation causing the brain of patients to change due to an excessive increase in the level of neurotransmitters signaling 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, Head of Clinical Services. research at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine , was carried out by Novack in collaboration with Lihi BarLev Schleider, doctoral student at the Center for the Study of Cannabis 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 in the Rheumatology Unit in Soroka, 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 months of cannabis treatment, 81,8% reported significant improvement in their symptom control., the mean pain having decreased from 9,0 to 5,0 (depending on the point scale). Features of fibromyalgia such as sleep disturbance, depression and weakness showed significant improvement after six months of treatment. In addition, an improvement in the quality of life and daily functioning of the patients was achieved. Finally, the incidence of side effects was relatively low: 7,9% reported dizziness, 6,7% had a dry mouth, and 5,4% complained of nausea or vomiting.
"The fibromyalgia is a painful disorder with serious consequences for a large number of patients, ”Novack said. “But the patients continued to suffer from chronic pain, depression and somatic disorders. We now believe that medical cannabis is an additional treatment that can benefit these patients effectively and with relatively few side effects during prolonged treatment. I hope that 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 lack of significant side effects, the researchers concluded that “medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for treating symptoms of fibromyalgia”. And that's good news for the many patients for whom standard fibromyalgia medications don't work.
"Given the low rates of dependence and serious adverse events (particularly with respect to opioids ), cannabis therapy should be considered to alleviate the symptom burden in fibromyalgia patients who do not respond to standard care, ”the authors wrote.
The study's results add to the existing literature on medical cannabis and fibromyalgia. A study carried out in 2006 by German researchers found that oral cannabis treatments ranging from 2,5 to 15 mg THC significantly reduced pain symptoms in nine patients over a three-month period. And in 2011, a study carried out in Spain compared the benefits of cannabis treatments for fibromyalgia patients who do not use cannabis. This study found that cannabis not only relieved pain, but helped reduce almost all symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, from stiffness to drowsiness.