It’s an area where research is ongoing and conclusions are still being drawn, but initial observations are spelling out relief for the symptoms of fibromyalgia through the use of cannabis sativa, more commonly known worldwide as marijuana.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a puzzling syndrome that causes constant fatigue and continuous musculoskeletal pain, especially in joints and extremities. Sometimes dull, sometimes raging, but never far removed, it is a condition whose origins are still unclear that affects millions worldwide, making everyday life activities a regular challenge and mundane tasks sometimes unbearable.
How Has Fibromyalgia Been Treated Until Today?
As the range and severity of fibromyalgia symptoms varies by person, so does the required means of treatment. Fibromyalgia has no known permanent cure, is difficult to treat, and is traditionally managed most effectively—yet very slowly—by proper attention to diet, sustained physical activity and avoiding stressors that seem to aggravate is symptoms, though pharmaceutical drugs are often prescribed to manage some of the condition’s worst symptoms.
The most successful treatment of fibromyalgia, however, requires a long term personal effort to develop healthy habits that ultimately minimize those symptoms, though they may never completely be eliminated.While the syndrome doesn’t generally lead to other medical conditions, it can interfere with one’s ability to function in the home and on the job because of the sleep deprivation, depression and anxiety it has the tendency to cause.
How Can Medically-Approved Marijuana Help?
When symptoms of fibromyalgia are treated pharmacologically, each of its major symptoms is apt to require its own respective prescription. That means separate drugs for sleeping difficulties, restless legs syndrome (RLS), depression and anxiety, pain relief and more. And each prescription carries along with it a different set of adverse side effects, some that rival the symptoms of fibromyalgia itself in unpleasantness and discomfort.
But the use of marijuana is finding more and more acceptance in medicine today because of its abilities to relieve pain, enhance mood, ease anxiety, and improve sleep. In research studies and tests, it has been shown to effectively alleviate many of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia in the same manner,but without any of the side effects that come with almost every prescribed pharmaceutical medication.
Several independent but similar studies relating to the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment to the symptoms of fibromyalgia have been performed worldwide, most notably in Spain, Canada and the United States.
One study that was published in 2008 by Canadian researchers reported that a daily dose of nabilone, a synthetic drug whose main ingredient is the same as that of natural marijuana significantly reduced the impact of fibromyalgia over the study period of four weeks.
It was ultimately reported that the subjects of the study reacted kindly to the drug and exhibited decreased levels of anxiety and pain. The drug itself indicated no negative interaction with any other medications taken by the subjects during the time allotted, which included muscle relaxers, opioids and antidepressants.
A separate Canadian study around the same time determined that administering nabilone at bedtime improved the overall sleep quality of the fibromyalgia patients being observed.
And a third study conducted in 2011 reported that fibromyalgia patients who were self-treated with medical marijuana showed significant pain relief, alleviated stiffness, thorough relaxation, and an enhanced sense of personal well-being.
Research gathered over recent years seems to demonstrate the powerful effects that medical marijuana has in modulating pain. Various studies concur on the cannabinoids ability to effectively treat both pain receptor—or responsive type pain—and inflammatory pain, which originates from within the body.Researchers conclude that medical marijuana is an effective method of pain modulation for a wide range of medical disorders, including fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia patients themselves attest to the positive results they experience and the therapeutic effects encountered in using cannabis to treat the symptoms of their condition.
Medical marijuana has pain relieving attributes that are proven helpful to patients who are desperate to find relief from their never ceasing aches and pains. Aside from the pain relief, many sufferers of fibromyalgia who were treated experimentally with medical marijuana finally reached the fourth and final stage of sleep, which ultimately allowed them the nightly physiological rejuvenation that everyone needs but that most people diagnosed with fibromyalgia never attain.
Marijuana as a medical treatment poses at least a few problems, though. Since it is naturally produced and not synthesized in a precise manner in a lab like pharmaceutical drugs are, its potency and level of efficiency inevitably varies by batch, or even by plant. And since it is a natural substance, complex in nature, it has a number of compounds that might each be afforded their own uses in medicine.
But there remains a great deal of research to be done to determine what type of symptom each compound might prove effective to treat, and how each compound will interact with other medicines that patients could ever possibly be taking simultaneously.
Presently only 19 of the nation’s 50 states allow for the prescribed medicinal use of marijuana. So, another problem arises as more and more patients recognize marijuana as an effective treatment against the array of fibromyalgia’s most bothersome symptoms.
With legal support of marijuana for medicinal purposes fully active in less than half the entire nation, there must either be a revolution in the national attitude of medicinal marijuana, or we are likely to face a rise in what is presently considered illegal activity as people turn to it on their own for the effective treatment that pharmaceuticals did not provide.
There is also the point that most would see valid, that while approved medical marijuana might alleviate the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia, it does nothing to actually treat the condition.
The concern, then, is that sufferers of fibromyalgia who began treating the syndrome with marijuana would become reliant upon the drug merely to mask their symptoms, and they would probably not be pursue other avenues of treatment that support long term well-being, like closer attention to their diet and the need for regular rest and exercise.