Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition as difficult to treat as it is to pronounce and spell. It affects some 10 million people in the US, yet treatments options are limited. That has nothing to do with the fact that 75 to 90 percent of those afflicted by FM are women, I’m sure, because women’s healthcare issues in this country have always had equal importance to men’s and that’s proven by—BAH HA HA HA. Sorry, I knew I wouldn’t be able get that out with a straight face.
FM causes chronic pain, and as many people suffering from chronic pain can attest, cannabis can be of tremendous use. A recent survey conducted in Israel was published in a magazine with surprisingly few cartoons, the Journal of Clinical Medicine; that survey was also covered in a magazine people I know actually read, High Times, and it confirms that cannabis may be a viable treatment method for FM.
The study, “Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia,” looked at 367 FM patients’ use of cannabis for six months, 301 of the patients being women. At the end of those six months, 261 patients remained in the study, some having dropped out by ceasing their cannabis use. The goals of the survey were twofold: How well did the cannabis address the pain of FM, and what side effects, if any, did users experience?
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Per High Times, “According to the study, patients began the six-month trial with a baseline pain intensity of 9.0 on a scale of zero to 10. At the end of the six-month assessment period, median pain intensity reduced to 5.0. Furthermore, 194 patients (81.1 percent) experienced at least some improvement in their condition without any serious side effects.” The study also found an unexpected consequence: users reducing or replacing their prescriptions meds with cannabis, as 22 percent of patients “stopped or reduced their dosage of opioids.” Furthermore, 20 percent of patients reduced their use of benzodiazepines.
Side effects impacted fewer than 8 percent of respondents, with the most common unwanted effects being dizziness and dry mouth, which, while disagreeable, can for most be addressed with a change in dosage or strain, and a glass of water. (The unintended side effects of opioids and benzodiazepines, on the other hand, can include horrific addiction and death, but, you know, dry mouth can be a real bitch too, so…)
The Israeli study supports both German and Spanish studies that found a high success rate for FM patients using cannabis to treat symptoms. In the Spanish study, respondents reported that cannabis addressed not just their pain-related issues, but other FM issues as well. Recent studies performed in the US show nothing because…. we don’t have any studies. Great job, America.