Cannabis study brings hope for patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

New data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research has reconfirmed the green plant’s suitability as a natural form of therapy for refractory fibromyalgia.

Carried out in Ponderano, Italy, the recent study suggests that cannabis may hold promise as a helpful tool for relieving fibromyalgia symptoms – including chronic pain – among patients who have exhausted alternative treatment options.

A total of 38 patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia participated in this study, which saw an Italian researcher analyzed the long-term use of herbal cannabis, oil extracts and other cannabis preparations post-consumption.

The study, titled, “Medical cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome: A retrospective, open-label case series,” assessed each study subject’s symptomatic relief after consuming cannabis for a maximum of 12 months in combination with their prescribed medication

The author noted that, among most patients, “significant improvements were observed” once cannabis therapy had been administered. Aside from pain relief, participants frequently reported a decline in overall symptom severity scores and their disability index.

What does previous research say about cannabis for fibromyalgia?

Various studies have touched upon the possibility of using cannabis as a treatment for fibromyalgia patients. Although no two studies present exactly the same results, the conclusions seem to support what the Italian researcher hypothesized.

For example, 81.1 percent of 367 diagnosed fibromyalgia patients who received medical cannabis inside a licensed clinic between the years 2015 and 2017 responded well to treatment. This is based on a study, titled, “Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia,” which revealed that pain intensity (scale 0–10) declined from a median of 9.0 at baseline to 5.0 (p < 0.001), and 194 patients (81.1 percent).

A separate study, titled “Medical cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia,” showed that 30 patients experienced relief from fibromyalgia symptoms after undergoing treatment with medical cannabis. In addition to this, 13 patients managed to quit alternative types of medication once they started using medical cannabis for fibromyalgia.

Side effects of using cannabis for fibromyalgia were not concerning

Reverting back to the most recent study, the vast majority of participants who responded to medical cannabis treatments reported experiencing “no or mild side effects.” Furthermore, long-term tolerance did not appear to be an issue, not did patients need to up their dosage during the study period.

“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,” wrote the study authors, who say that “further studies are warranted to confirm these findings.”

It should be noted that patients did not report any improvements in their anxiety or depression scores once they had consumed cannabis.

“A growing number of patients with fibromyalgia are experimenting with cannabis products. This study’s findings add to the growing body of literature indicating that cannabis is a promising alternative therapeutic option for many of these patients,” commented NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano.

You can read more about the potential of using cannabis for fibromyalgia on the NORML website.