One in Eight With Fibromyalgia Uses Cannabis as Medicine

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 12 - One in eight people with fibromyalgia self-medicates with cannabis products, according to a new Canadian study.

"That is not unusual behavior, in general, for people with chronic medical illnesses for which we don't have great treatments," said Dr. Igor Grant, who heads the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California and was not involved in the study.

"People start looking around, they look for other types of remedies, because they need the help," he told Reuters Health.

The question is whether self-medicating with cannabis is really helpful for people with fibromyalgia, researchers say.

Marijuana has been shown to ease certain types of pain in patients with HIV and other conditions. But Grant said he doesn't know of any research showing the drug can relieve fibromyalgia pain.

And the question of whether it helps fibromyalgia patients regain the ability to carry out some of their daily functions, such as housekeeping or working, remains up in the air, too.

"We don't want to just see pain reduction, but an improvement in function," said Dr. Peter Ste-Marie from McGill University in Montreal, who worked on the new study. "If it's not helping them get back into a daily life pattern, is it helping them?"

Fibromyalgia can be treated with physical therapy, antidepressants, pain medications and other approaches, although none of them is a cure.

To see how many people turn to marijuana, Dr. Ste-Marie and his colleagues collected information from the medical records of 457 patients who came to the pain unit at McGill University Health Center. Their findings were published June 21st online in Arthritis Care & Research.

All of the patients had been referred to the clinic for fibromyalgia symptoms, although only 302 had fibromyalgia as their primary diagnosis.

About 10% said they smoked marijuana for medical purposes and another 3% had a prescription for a synthetic form of the active chemical in the cannabis plant.

"The popular knowledge of marijuana being available for pain would tend to demonstrate why 10% of patients would give it a try," said Dr. Ste-Marie.

"There really is no miracle drug for fibromyalgia. We definitely understand that patients would try to find something else," he told Reuters Health.

The researchers couldn't tell from the study which of the patient had started smoking pot before their fibromyalgia developed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40% of U.S. adults have tried marijuana at some point.

Pot smokers and non-users in the study had the same rates of disability and unemployment. However, patients who had unstable mental illness or had a worrisome use of opioid pain medications were more likely to report using cannabis - a finding that raised concerns with Dr. Ste-Marie and his colleagues.

"Before saying herbal cannabis has a future in fibromyalgia, there are multiple things that need to be looked at," he said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/MWXmWe

Arthr Care Res 2012.

8 Replies

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  • Wouldn't risk it myself. Apart from the fact that it is illegal you don't know what strength or quality it is, I wouldn't like to take up smoking, it smells disgusting and there are problems regarding tongue cancer too.

    The medicinal extract version isn't licensed in the UK is it?

    Julie xx

  • Hi Julie, I wouldnt take it at all... correct not licensed in Uk.. But makes interesting news in the fact that it is a drug and it is know to affect the neuro... I have posted some very enlightening information gathered from reuters regarding news for fibromyalgia... It is lengthy reading but worth it as it can "arm" us with knowledge.

    Hope you are having a good day.

    x

  • I actually discussed this with my gp... Not smoking it but using it in cooking .... I was pretty desperate at the time .... My gp said he couldn't stop me from doing it ... But it was illegal obviously and he was TOTALLY against it as it made you paranoid and with mild depression caused by constant pain and my tendency to burst into tears he said in my case he could see paranoia becoming a big issue plus if it stopped working chances are I would up the amount in cooking and then it could lead me on to harder drugs and then where would I and my family be..... I think the fact he actually took the time to have a rational chat with me about it helped me not go down that route as, he said I would have no idea what I was buying.... But the fact that the bud of cannabis is available in some states of America as a medical prescription for cooking does make me wonder if it would help.

    Basically I am too scared and too broke to go and buy any old stuff from goodness knows who...where does a woman in her 40s go on a mobility scooter to buy it????? . But if was available in the uk as a medicinal prescription for cooking from reputable pharmacies .... Would I try it ... Yup... Would I allow my family access to it ..... Absolutely not.

    VG x

  • I have, and still do, smoke cannabis for my fibro. Only at night before going to bed. It does relax the muscles and spasms a little but I wouldn't say it relieves the pain at all. And I haven't noticed any better sleep patterns either. So why do I keep smoking it you may ask? Well if I can relieve just one of my problems with fibro I will. If I thought rubbing cat food on my painful areas would work - I'd do it!! But each to their own I say.

  • Hi sue,

    Glad it helps relieve something like you said about the cat food I have tried everything physical I am capable of and tried pretty weird foods and lack of foods even went for a whole body Chinese massage ... That did nearly finish me off. I now know I hate my head being rubbed massaged or fiddled with. I read years ago of MS sufferers being on a mailing list for cannabis chocolate but of course that was discovered and stopped

    Ah well maybe one day I,ll be sitting on some warm island eating cannabis choccies and drinking snake venom with not a pain or ache in the world

    VG x

  • VG... And I will be joining you.. although would probably be very quiet as Im allergic to opiates.. so I wouldnt make a peep or be in any pain whatsoever..ha ha xxx

  • Yep that goes for me too VG! I am 100% against drug taking, but if there were a legalized way purely for medicinal purposes for pain relief and to manage our condition, then I would ask for it tonight.

    I am sure many of us feel too drugged up on our traditional meds, I certainly did and that was one of the reasons I stopped taking Amitriptyline. I felt it was changing me, my powers of thought and emotions. Now I've stopped taking it after over four years, I feel like me again.

    If there were legalized cannabis in medicinal form, I am sure many of us would try it to help us. This is a completely different issue to just taking/smoking drugs for the hell of it.

    As VG says so rightly in my opinion, if they said medicinal snake venom (no pics of snakes on it though!) and eating cannabis medicinal choccies could help Fibro, would you take/have them?! It's a tough question and surely we'd all be tempted.

    I wouldn't even consider taking anything illegal, I'd be too worried about the consequences and as a post said above, how on Earth would I know that the product was genuine, safe and not going to seriously hurt me because it's filled with some lethal chemical meant for removing algae on garden gnomes! Too risky!

  • Libertyz ...... Do you have garden gnomes????????

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