About half of patients reported improved quality of sleep and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, a new study finds.
In the past, fibromyalgia patients turned to medical marijuana to alleviate chronic pain symptoms associated with the mysterious illness. Fibromyalgia causes general fatigue, trouble sleeping, mood issues, and widespread musculoskeletal pain in and estimated 6 to 12 million Americans who live with the disease.
No known cure exists, although several FDA-approved medications exist as well as recommendations to diet and lifestyle for fibromyalgia, which is believed to affect how the brain processes pain signals.
One previous study has shown marijuana can help reduce fibromyalgia pain while another found cannabis produces “beneficial effects” to other symptoms associated with the disease. Now, a new study out of Italy demonstrated that medical marijuana improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments.
“This observational study shows that adjunctive [medical cannabis treatment] offers a possible clinical advantage in FM patients, especially in those with sleep dysfunctions,” researchers concluded.
The study, which was published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, followed 102 fibromyalgia patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments. These participants were given two forms of medical cannabis oil extracts — a THC-dominant blend and one closely balanced between CBD and THC. Researchers then collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue. In addition, doctors asked participants to record depression and anxiety levels.
According to this data, only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall. Cannabis did, however, improve overall quality of life for some. About half of patients reduced or altogether quit taking analgesic medicine, while a little less than half reported better quality of sleep. Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety were found in around half of patients as well.
“The retention rate and changes in concomitant analgesic therapy reflect [medical cannabis treatment] efficacy of the improved quality of life of patients,” researchers concluded.
They did explain that more research is necessary, due to small sample size in the clinical trial. But the data does provide hope to those with fibromyalgia they can experience a better life while managing their symptoms.