Can Medical Marijuana Treat Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

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Medical marijuana has gained more widespread popularity and acceptance over the past several years, and is now legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Cannabis, the Latin name for marijuana, has been said to help people with cancer, anxiety, chronic pain and more. But can it help people with fibromyalgia? Before you surround yourself in a purple haze, let’s take a look at medical marijuana for fibromyalgia, and what research says.

The History of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana was actually prescribed by doctors until 1942, when it was taken off the market after rising concerns over the negative side effects of using the drug. Marijuana was officially listed as a Schedule I drug in 1970 by the federal government, and all medical uses were no longer accepted. Not until recently has medical marijuana researched commenced again.

“Marijuana has been a medicine for 5,000 years,” said Donald I. Abrams, M.D. “That’s a lot longer than it hasn’t been a medicine.” Abrams is an oncologist and director of clinical research programs at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco, and is a top researcher of medicinal marijuana. “The war on drugs is really a war on patients,” he said.

The use of medical marijuana is still controversial today. It is still considered to be illegal on the federal level; however, many states have passed laws that allow some people to use medical marijuana to treat symptoms of diseases or illnesses.

“Medical marijuana has many uses,” Abrams said. “It increases appetite while decreasing nausea and vomiting. It also works against pain and may be synergistic with pain medications, helps people sleep, and improves mood. I think it’s a shame that we don’t allow people to access that medicine.”

Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia

A 2011 study found that medical marijuana may help to alleviate some fibromyalgia symptoms. However, a more recent study in 2016 found that earlier studies did not provide enough evidence to recommend medical marijuana for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

One study found medical marijuana to be a more effective pain reliever for men, which is interesting when considering that around 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia are women.

Another important thing to consider is that most marijuana is not grown in a lab and therefore not closely regulated. Because of this, the beneficial compounds of the plant may very from one batch to another. Similarly, the symptom relief effects will vary as well.

More About Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana may help to alleviate the following symptoms:

Possible negative side effects of medical marijuana include:

  • Addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired reaction times
  • Issues with concentration and memory
  • Mental illness (in those predisposed to it)
  • Interactions with other drugs

If you are curious about medical marijuana, and are wondering if it could help to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms, check your state medical marijuana laws, and consult with your doctor for more information.

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