If you’ve never heard of fibromyalgia, it’s a condition that causes bowel and bladder issues, chronic pain, cognitive issues, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, joint stiffness and memory problems. Pain is the one sufferers mostly complain of. Fibromyalgia can arise after emotional or physical trauma or gradually. It’s widely considered to be a complex neurological disorder that sees sensations of pain exaggerated. 10 years ago, however, many doctors wrote it off as the ravings of hysterical wimmen – up to 90 percent of sufferers are female.
As many as 800,000 citizens of the United Kingdom are afflicted by fibromyalagia. Treating it is difficult and curing it, impossible. In the words of Teri Robnett, now a cannabis patients’ rights advocate who runs the blog Rx MaryJane: “There used to be days that I didn’t feel like I could get through the day. I just wanted to cry and go back to bed.” Time for some cannabis.
Let’s look at this study
In a study in 2011 that was published in PLoS One, 28 people who used cannabis in the face of fibromyalgia ranked the benefits provided for every symptom. 43 percent believed it relieved pain strongly while another 43 percent believed it did so mildly. 81 percent felt cannabis provided strong relief from sleep problems.
And now, this one
A survey of more than 1,300 patients by the National Pain Foundation in 2014 had 390 – almost a third – using cannabis for medical reasons. Of these, 62 percent reported that cannabis was “very effective” in treatment of their symptoms. 33 percent reported that it “helped a little”. That leaves only five percent reporting that cannabis helped not at all. Compare that with only eight to 10 percent finding prescription meds “very effective”, and 60 to 68 percent finding them to “not help at all”.
This one, too
In 2018, another study, this time of 25 people who suffered from fibromyalgia, took place and appeared in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. It found 44 percent of people reporting 30 percent less pain and 24 percent, a 50 percent reduction after taking cannabis.
How about this one?
There was one more study in 2018, this time published in Pain Research and Treatment. It examined the responses to questionnaires by 383 fibromyalgia patients in Israel. 84 percent used cannabis for this reason, with 94 percent granted relief from pain.
A review by National Academies Press in 2017 of cannabis’ health effects found considerable evidence that cannabis successfully treated chronic pain.
In the United Kingdom, you can get prescription medicine containing THC
In the United Kingdom, you can get Bedrocan and Bedica for fibromyalgia on prescription. These are respectively 22 percent and 14 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient of cannabis that gets you stoned. But cannabis contains 60 or 70 different cannabinoids, the chemicals that make cannabis special, and some of the others may be beneficial, too. Also, only 10 to 20 percent of the THC finds its way to the bloodstream after metabolising.
Why might cannabis help?
Prominent neurologist and pharmacologist Dr Ethan Russo, who has devoted much of his career to the study of cannabis, posited that fibromyalgia stems from clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. Endocannabinoids are the cannabinoids produced by our bodies.
Esteemed actor Morgan Freeman is one who complains of fibromyalgia, which causes him pain in one arm. “[T]he only thing that offers any relief is marijuana.”