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Fibromyalgia

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

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ADHD: A row of brown oil bottles with no lids surroundd by green cannabis leaves

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.

The research focused on 313 studies that investigated Nabilone, Dronabinol, Bedrocan, Bediol and Bedrolite.

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.”

Fibromyalgia relief

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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Read more: What is fibromyalgia and can cannabis help?

Fibromyalgia

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

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Fibromyalgia: A stethoscope on a wooden surface surrounded by cannabis leaves

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.

UK Fibromyalgia: A blue and white logo for the charity UK Fibromyalgia

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.

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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.”

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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.”

 

To register for this free event please follow the links to get your tickets:
Part 1: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168090997699
Part 2: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168112536121

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:

Website: www.integroclinics.com
Email: Contact@integroclinics.com
Twitter: @clinicsintegro

Read more: Integro Medical Clinic on living with and managing arthritis pain

UK Fibromyalgia: A banner for collaborative content

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Fibromyalgia

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

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Pain level: A doctors stethoscope next to two cannabis leaves on a wooden surface

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.”

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Read more: What is fibromyalgia and can medical cannabis help?

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Case Studies

Emigration: “If this is what I am going to be faced with access to medication, then I can’t have a long term plan in Ireland.”

In a new series, we speak to Irish cannabis patients about their decision to emigrate in search of easier, safer cannabis access.

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Canna emigration: An Irish passport lying on a map with a small toy airplane next to it

In a new series, Cannabis Health News talks to people who have experienced emigration in search of safe, legal cannabis access. This is our second feature in the series.

In the previous article, we spoke to Alicia Maher about her decision to emigrate for access and her life in Spain. This week, we spoke to Aridenne Lynch about making the decision to leave and what awaits her in her new life abroad.

Emigration

Emigration from Ireland moves up and down usually depending on the state of the economy. Between 1820 and 1970, heavy emigration took place and by the end of the 19th century, almost 40 percent of the Irish born population lived abroad. A quarter of those living in the US and one in ten in Britain.

Nothing has changed with similar patterns taking place in the 1980s and 00s due to different recessions. In recent years, this has slowed. The number of people emigrating from Ireland at 29,000 signalled an increase in 2019 compared to the 26,900 Irish who returned. It’s not always a recession that causes people to leave a country but recently there has been a wave of Irish cannabis patients choosing to leave the country.

The decision to emigrate is a small part of the battle when it comes to leaving. The most stressful part, as every person who has left, knows is the planning that needs to be done. No one knows this better than Adrienne who is moving with her young daughter to Spain for access to cannabis. Adrienne is a cannabis patient, advocate and activist. She is also the host of the cannabis podcast, Bitches of Eire which covers a range of cannabis topics.

She started smoking cannabis recreationally as a teenager but then it took on another meaning for her when her father became ill. “At one point in my teens, my dad was using it because he had cancer. He found it amazing for pain which changed my perspective on it. When my father died, it was the trauma that triggered my autoimmune condition and fibromyalgia. That was when my symptoms began.”

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A woman smiling in a white top with her arm exposed. There is a tattoo on her upper arm

Read more: A fibro-warriors fight to access to cannabis

Cannabis for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a collection of symptoms usually defined by widespread chronic pain. It has a broad spectrum of often debilitating symptoms including fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and reduced physical function. The exact number of fibromyalgia patients in Ireland is not known, but it is estimated to affect approximately 2% of the population. It is thought to affect one in 20 people worldwide. Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, although the condition typically affects more women than men.

Adrienne felt a better connection with cannabis than alcohol but it wasn’t until her mid-twenties that she started to consider it medicinally. “I was really fed up with all the pharmaceutical medication. I couldn’t even hold a job down or keep a routine. It was stealing my life from me and every time I tried to get my life back, these pills were making me sicker.”

Research

At this stage, Adrienne began to research cannabis and diet. She began to take cannabis daily while reducing her pharmaceutical medication over the next few years. It took a while for her to reduce the amount as she was living in places such as Uganda and lacked the stability of being in one place. Some of this detox took place on the road in America where she found being away from everything a lot easier. She now says it is her medicine and she would never look back.

The idea for moving to Spain came from living in a US state where cannabis was legal. She began to dread coming back to Ireland as the thought of reentering into prohibition worried her. She was originally going to stay in Ireland for longer with her husband but after their break up, she began to think about relocation.

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“The idea of coming back to where it wouldn’t be legal was scary. Before I even went to America, I was talking about Spain or Holland as this was the only thing that worked for me. If this is what was I was going to be faced with all the time for the rest of my life for access to my medication then I can’t have a long term plan in Ireland.”

“When my husband left, I thought, this is an opportunity because my daughter is at the perfect age to move. I was absolutely fed up after the pandemic with trying to access my medication. Cannabis allows me to eat so I didn’t know if I was going to be able to eat from one day to another. Which is anxiety and fear in itself. I was fed up with living like that so I started planning in February to go.”

Adrienne is hoping to leave in the next few weeks. Along with cannabis access, another huge reason for her decision to emigrate to Spain, in particular, is the climate. “I have rheumatoid arthritis which is not a good mix with cold weather. Spain has the perfect climate and I have a draw to go to Malaga so I’m following it.”

Emigration: A pink banner advertising a competition for cannabis health and MEECBD

Read more: What is fibromyalgia and can cannabis help?

Time to go

“It’s been a process and there is a reason not everyone does this. It’s not just the stress of trying to get moving companies or packing everything but then living in that limbo phase where everything is packed and you are waiting to go.”

She adds: “That’s the minimal side of it, then there is the emotional side of leaving your home. I’ve left before but I always knew I was coming back. I would go for a year or six months but this time, I’ve sold my house and it’s a permeant fixture. I’m setting up roots there and I’m going to be raising my daughter in Spain. This is a no coming back sort of scenario.”

“Ireland will always be my home. I love it dearly and I’m a very proud Irish woman but I’m ready for the next step.

One thing Adrienne found surprising is that others weren’t always thrilled about her decision to move. She cautions others thinking of emigration to consider this. “When you make the decision and you know in your heart its the right move to make, you are just so excited about it. You expect every single person to be just as excited as you but not everyone is ecstatic. You need to prepare yourself for that because people will try and rain on your parade. If it is the right thing for you then don’t let them knock you for a second.”

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A woman in a metallic t-shirt smiles at the camera with one hand raised above her head

Cannabis access has a long way to go in Ireland. While there is the ministerial license and the non-functioning Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP), there is a long line of patients and cannabis consumers being left behind. Countless patients in this series and across forums recount the difficulties of individual situations with their medications that aren’t accounted for by law, customs or the Irish government.

Adrienne says the laws are a big problem when it comes to her potentially returning down the line. “The biggest driver for me is the law. I would have stuck it out longer but it’s not even just about cannabis. I’ve been fighting in the marriage equality referendum, the Repeal movement and it just seems never-ending.”

“I’m going to miss Ireland a lot but there are a number of reasons why I’m leaving and cannabis access is the biggest thing.”

 

Have you emigrated for access?

Please get in touch on social media and tell us your story to take part in the series. 

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Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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