Researchers at University of Michigan Medical School surveyed 878 fibromyalgia patients who were using cannabidiol (CBD) to gauge their reasons for doing so.
Fibromyalgia, which affects many millions of people around the world, is a chronic condition that includes widespread pain in the muscles and bones among its various symptoms. Impact on patients is anything from uncomfortable to debilitating. While there is no cure, symptoms of the condition are sometimes managed with various medications, including opioid-based treatments that bring with them complications of their own.
So it’s little wonder there has been significant interest in the use of medical cannabis – particularly cannabidiol (CBD) – which is thought to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
In the UoM study, 72.0% of patients surveyed reported substituting CBD products for medications, most commonly Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – (NSAIDs – e.g. ibuprofen) (59.0%), opioids (53.3%), gabapentanoids (35.0%), and benzodiazepines (23.1%).
The research summary notes most reported decreasing use of these pain medications – or ceasing use altogether; and those who substituted reported larger improvements than those who didn’t. The most common reasons for substitution included fewer side effects and better management of symptoms.
“This widespread naturalistic substitution for pain medications suggests the need for more rigorous study designs to examine this effect,” said the researchers.
The study report was published last month in The Journal of Pain.
A survey report from last year involving 2,701 participants with fibromyalgia found 38.1% reported never use CBD, 29.4% reported past CBD use, and 32.4% reported current CBD use – so its use appears quite prevalent, particularly in the USA where cannabidiol is easy to source.
An Israeli study from 2019 involving hundreds of fibromyalgia patients found the use of cannabis in managing the condition appeared to be effective and safe.
According to the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fibromyalgia affects about 4 million US adults, approximately 2% of the adult population. Those with fibromyalgia are twice as likely to be hospitalized as someone without the condition. The cause of the condition is still unknown. Most are diagnosed during middle age and the prevalence of fibromyalgia increases with age.