More than 70 percent of fibromyalgia patients are using CBD as an alternative to opioid medications, a new study has found.
Research carried out by the University of Michigan‘s school of medicine has identified that large numbers of people suffering from the condition are substituting opioids for cannabis-derived products, which have fewer side effects and less potential for abuse.
Results showed that 70 percent of participants who used CBD substituted it for opioids or other pain medications. These participants reported that they either decreased use or stopped taking these medications as a result.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition which is extremely difficult to treat, with patients often relying on strong pain killers which can lead to adverse side effects.
But many are now finding relief in CBD.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are thought to help reduce pain levels, which can interfere with sleep disturbance, fatigue and cognitive impairment.
CBD (cannabidiol) is the second most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and has been marketed for everything from mood stabilisation to pain relief, without the intoxicating effects produced by THC.
Previous research shows that some people substitute medical cannabis (often with high concentrations of THC) for opioids and other pain medications, reporting that cannabis provides better pain relief with fewer side effects. However, there is far less data on CBD use.
Kevin Boehnke, a research investigator from the Department of Anaesthesiology, Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Centre at the University of Michigan, said: “CBD is less harmful than THC, as it is non-intoxicating and has less potential for abuse.
“If people can find the same relief without THC’s side effects, CBD may represent a useful as a harm reduction strategy.”
Boehnke and his team surveyed people 878 people with fibromyalgia about their use of CBD for the treatment of chronic pain.
“Fibromyalgia is not easy to treat, often involving several medications with significant side effects and modest benefits,” Boehnke explained.
“I was not expecting that level of substitution, noting that the rate is quite similar to the substitution rate reported in the medical cannabis literature.
“People who said they used CBD products that also contained THC had higher odds of substitution and reported greater symptom relief.
“Yet, finding the products containing only CBD also provided pain relief and were substituted for pain medications is promising and merits future study.”
The team also noted that much of the widespread use of CBD is occurring without physician guidance and in the absence of relevant clinical trials.
“Even with that lack of evidence, people are using CBD, substituting it for medication and saying it’s less harmful and more effective,” he said.
Boehnke stressed the need for more controlled research into how CBD may provide these benefits, as well as whether these benefits may be due to the placebo effect.
He added: “Clinically, opening up lines of discussion around CBD use for chronic pain is imperative, for medication safety reasons as well as for enhancing the therapeutic alliance and improving patient care.”
The use of CBD products in many cases of fibromyalgia can be safe and effective, and an alternative option to opioid analgesics and stronger pain killers which can be addictive with more side effects.
UK Fibromyalgia announce two-part webinar about arthritis, fibromyalgia and cannabis medicines
The two-part webinar about arthritis and fibromyalgia will also feature patient’s voices
UK Fibromyalgia, Integro Clinics, Primary Care Cannabis Network, CPASS and PLEA are proud to present a collaborative two-part webinar discussing fibromyalgia, arthritis and cannabis medicines.
An estimated 1.5-2 million people are living with fibromyalgia and 10 million with arthritis in the UK. The management of the symptoms of these conditions can take a long time to diagnose correctly and can take even longer before they are effectively brought under control.
This two-part series aims to educate attendees on the experiences and lives of those living with fibromyalgia and arthritis, as well as show the benefits that cannabis medicines and CBD can have in alleviate some of the symptoms of these conditions.
Steven is one of three patients, who will be speaking at the second episode of the webinar.
He is a medical cannabis patient with fibromyalgia. He shares his story from first being diagnosed to gaining his medical cannabis prescription, and how his life has improved since then.
Fibromyalgia: Steven’s Story
Steven first developed FSH Muscular Dystrophy in 2014 and was diagnosed in 2016, after an initially incorrect diagnosis of Brachial Neuritis. Then in 2015, he developed fibromyalgia, which restricted him to a wheelchair, when outside his home.
His FSH Muscular Dystrophy had caused him severe nerve damage leading to his arm dropping forwards at the shoulder and giving him huge pain. He was prescribed Naproxen, Amitriptyline, Pregabalin, Tramadol and Baclofen.
All had limited effects on his pain and had horrible side effects. So much so that he was taken off them leaving him with very little to treat the symptoms of his fibromyalgia.
He said: “Fibromyalgia arrived during a very stressful period in my life, triggered by a car crash. Four months after the accident, I was admitted to the hospital having difficulties with walking and pain in my back, hips and legs. I had already exhausted all other common pain killers because of the treatment I had already received for FSH muscular dystrophy, which had started a year before.”
Having come off these medicines, Steven then had six weeks of physiotherapy, which didn’t help and caused him great pain. After this, he was not referred to any doctors or for psychological help, which he should have been as per NICE guidelines. It was at this point that he turned to medical cannabis, and in June 2019, he received his first prescription.
Steven discovered that using medical cannabis allowed him to gain back his mental and physical strength. It allowed him to sleep better and recoup.
Cannabis and Fibromyalgia
Steven said: “I got my first medical cannabis prescription in June 2019 and it was the best decision I’ve ever made to treat my illness. Over time the brain fog that I was perpetually in receded. I can compare my fibromyalgia with a volcano, that was bubbling and active – the cannabis soothed and quietened it. It allowed my stiffness and fatigue to reduce, and my body began to recover and flourish. Whole aspects of my personality that had switched off returned. Mentally and physically, I was healing, and I had the space to be me.
He added: “The consistent quality and regular supply of medical cannabis, as opposed to black-market cannabis, was vital. It allowed me to get a constant level of relief that allowed me to rebalance my vulnerable body and mind. With each month of use, symptoms would reduce or completely go and my kids all commented on the massive change in my energy levels.”
Steven will be part of the round table panel in the second episode of the webinar and will discuss why he believes medical cannabis should be more widely accessible for patients when conventional medicines no longer help.
He explained: “I want to help raise the profile of medical cannabis as an effective form of treatment for Fibromyalgia at the same time as helping to raise awareness of the condition. Because it destroys people’s lives, it destroys families, careers, takes parents, partners, friends & loved ones away from us and locks them in a constant cycle of pain, anxiety and fatigue. It is a very destructive illness yet mostly invisible because these people are isolated at home suffering & unable to talk about it.
“This webinar is an opportunity to shed light on the topic of fibromyalgia and bring more attention to this illness and exactly how it affects people.”
Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser at Integro Medical Clinics Ltd said: “Integro Medical Clinics always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.”
If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman please contact Integro Clinics:
Medical cannabis may reduce pain levels in fibromyalgia patients – study
The study also showed potential positive results for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy
A new study on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia and other inflammatory rheumatic diseases, reports a reduction in pain levels following medical cannabis use.
The study revealed patients experienced reduced levels of pain and better sleep quality following their use of medical cannabis products.
The study surveyed 319 patients about their use of medical cannabis products. Those with fibromyalgia accounting for 82 percent of the group, reported a mean pain level reduction of 77 percent. They also reported sleep quality improvement of 78 percent.
The researchers noted the demographic and clinical parameters before documenting the type of cannabis consumed, the method of consumption and the amount.
Other pain conditions enrolled in the study included rheumatoid arthritis patients and those experiencing diabetic neuropathy. The group included 14 with mechanical back pain, eight with physical injuries, seven with rheumatoid arthritis, and seven with diabetic neuropathy. All groups recorded potentially significant levels of improvement in their symptoms.
Pain level reduction
According to the results, the THC concentration, duration of consumption, and dose had potentially significant effects on pain reduction. Only the duration of consumption had an independent significant effect on sleep quality improvement.
The data was published in the journal Pain Research and Management.
The authors wrote: “Medical cannabis (MC) has a favourable effect on pain level and sleep quality among nearly the entire spectrum of resistant ‘chronic pain syndromes’ seen or referred to rheumatology clinics, including inflammatory diseases resistant to biological treatment.”
“Cannabis should be seriously considered in every ‘chronic pain condition’ whenever the accepted modalities of treatment are insufficient for alleviating patient’s pain and sleep problems.”
Fibromyalgia relief: New review suggests cannabis may help symptoms
A new review of 313 studies into fibromyalgia relief for patients confirms it may help to relieve symptoms
A new review suggests that whole-plant cannabis may provide relief or improve different symptoms experienced by fibromyalgia patients.
Researchers examined scientific papers specific to either the use of cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids in fibromyalgia patients. They reported that cannabis or cannabinoids may help with various symptoms and are safe for use in treatment.
Researchers, affiliated with the California Institute of Behavioural Neurosciences and Psychology, published the literature review, titled, A systematic review of fibromyalgia and recent advancements in treatment: Is medicinal cannabis a new hope?
The authors noted: “The data suggest that the use of cannabinoids and cannabis carries limited side effects in the treatment of FM, and they can also improve some common and debilitating symptoms associated with FM, thus making them an adequate potential treatment option, when other treatment lines have been exhausted.”
They highlighted that the ongoing pandemic combined with an opioid crisis meant there was a need to discover alternative forms of pain relief.
“Ultimately, we believe that the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for pain relief in fibromyalgia has shown great potential and maybe a source of hope for those suffering from chronic pain associated with this condition, and for the physicians treating them; however, benefits need to be weighed against the harmful effects, and more research into this area should be conducted, for longer periods, to assess for long-term efficacy, adverse effects, and dependence.”
“The ratio of TCH: CBD also seems to be an important factor in the outcome, which needs further research. So more clinical trials with long-term follow-up and study on the dose-response relationship and dependence need to be done.”
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