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Cannabis could become a potential treatment for the severe pain suffered by those who have the medical condition fibromyalgia, according to a new study out of Israel. It’s another indication that marijuana is continuing to emerge as a medical treatment for pain.
Medical researchers have not yet found any definitive cause or cure for fibromyalgia. While the study did not find that cannabis is a cure for the condition, it did conclude that the plant might become an option for treating the severe pain caused by the disease.
Patients who participated in the Israeli study for six months reported a lessening of the intensity in the pain related to fibromyalgia.
“Our data indicates that medical cannabis could be a promising therapeutic option for the treatment of fibromyalgia, especially for those who failed on standard pharmacological therapies,” the researchers wrote in the report.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder that involves widespread musculoskeletal pain. Symptoms also include fatigue, sleep, depression, memory loss and changing moods, according to the Mayo Clinic. Research indicates that fibromyalgia “amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”
Some of the symptoms are triggered by such events as infection, physical trauma, significant psychological stress or surgery. However, in other cases the symptoms slowly grow, seemingly with no triggering event.
Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.
What the study found
The study was conducted in Tel Aviv, Israeli by researchers from the Department of Rheumatology at Rabin Medical Center and Ben‐Gurion University. The research included 367 fibromyalgia patients, 82 percent of whom were women.
The results of the study proved overwhelmingly positive.The study authors reported that:
- 81.1% of patients experienced treatment success
- 73.4% had improved sleep
- 80.8% had improved depression‐related symptoms
- 61.9% had improved “quality of life” components including appetite and sexual activity.
Although patients reported a few negative side effects, including dizziness, dry mouth and gastrointestinal symptoms, the researchers concluded that “medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.”
They also wrote that cannabis is worth considering for pain treatment because of “low rates of addiction and serious adverse effects (especially compared to opioids).” They recommended that cannabis treatment be considered to ease the pain of fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard treatment.
They also wrote that cannabis deserves further research into how it could impact other symptoms of fibromyalgia, including anxiety and depression.