Can Marijuana Help With Fibromyalgia?

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Fibromyalgia is a condition that produces pain throughout the body and specific tender spots where the pain is characterized as deep tissue tenderness. Fibromyalgia patients also suffer symptoms similar to that of the flu, feeling fatigued and exhausted, or experiencing stiffness. Current treatments for fibromyalgia usually include exercise, cognitive behavioral treatment, mind-body awareness, and lifestyle changes, but now, some patients are looking to medical marijuana for symptom relief due to the fact it has been found to relieve pain, sleep disturbance, stiffness, mood disorders, and digestive disturbances. There are few controlled clinical studies revolving around marijuana use for fibromyalgia, but surveys have found fibromyalgia patients find medical marijuana effective for their symptoms. In a survey from Canada, one out of every eight people with fibromyalgia use marijuana or its cannabinoids for symptom relief. More men opted for marijuana than women, and marijuana users tended to be younger. Of the study’s participants, 77% of cannabis users were unemployed, leading researchers to theorize the marijuana was either ineffective at improving function, or patients who opted for marijuana were more severely affected by their symptoms from the beginning.

Another online survey of 1,300 fibromyalgia patients found 62% of patients who had tried marijuana had found it effective for treating their symptoms. The survey, which was conducted by the National Pain Foundation, also found that many sufferers claimed marijuana was the only option that helped provide symptom relief. In another survey, in which fibromyalgia sufferers were divided into groups of marijuana users and non-users, marijuana users smoked or ate marijuana not only to help with pain, but also to alleviate all of their other symptoms. Patients reported decreases in pain and stiffness and improved relaxation, sleep, and well-being, within two hours of dosing. Side effects were mild, but included dry mouth, dizziness, or sedation. Over 80% felt relief from sleeplessness. Lastly, a 2008 randomized trial published in the Journal of Pain found the administration of nabilone, which is a synthetic form of THC, improved pain and other symptoms in 40 fibromyalgia patients. A following study in 2010 found nabilone produced similar improvements.

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.