Cannabis was found to improve symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, when used alongside prescription medication.
Medical cannabis has been linked to a reduction in pain and other symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, according to new data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.
An Italian researcher explored the long-term use of various types of cannabis preparations in 38 patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia.
Participants in the study consumed cannabis for up to twelve months in combination with their prescribed medications.
The author reported that “significant improvements were observed” following the initiation of cannabis therapy in most patients.
Medical cannabis therapy was found to “significantly reduce pain intensity”, with approximately half of the patients reporting a reduction in pain.
Most patients reporting response to therapy said their pain intensity had decreased by at least 50 percent.
Participants also reported a decline in their disability index and overall symptom severity.
The most common side effect experienced by participants was mental confusion, however no patients experienced serious adverse effects, with most who were responsive to medical cannabis reporting “no or mild side effects.”
Subjects also did not appear to develop long-term tolerance to the substance, as they had no need to increase their dosages of medical cannabis over the duration of the study.
The author concluded: “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.
“Further studies are warranted to confirm these findings.”
The data supports a previous Italian study published last year, which demonstrated that medical cannabis improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments.
Published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, the study followed 102 patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments and collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety levels.
While only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall, cannabis did improve overall quality of life for some.
The study of 367 patients found that pain intensity decreased when treated with medical cannabis, leading the team to state that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.
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