Patients with fibromyalgia treated with a synthetic form of marijuana, nabilone, showed significant reductions in pain and anxiety, according to a first-of-its-kind study, published in The Journal of Pain.
An estimated 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia and the disease syndrome has no cure and is difficult to diagnose. The disease is characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain and myriad other symptoms and the condition is far more prevalent in women and the incidence increases with age, reaching 7 percent among women 65 years and older.
Forty subjects were selected for the nabilone trial, conducted by researchers at the University of Manitoba Rehabilitation Hospital and divided into nabilone and placebo groups and were treated for four weeks. It was noted by the authors that this was the first randomized, controlled-access trial for evaluating nabilone for pain reduction and quality-of-life improvement in fibromyalgia patients. Nabilone is one of two oral marijuana-based compounds, known as cannabinoids, which is available in Canada and approved for treatment of nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.
Nabilone has significant benefits for pain relief and functional improvement in fibromyalgia patients, the study concluded. The drug was well-tolerated by treated patients that the authors characterized as reassuring since fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to most medications and have difficulty tolerating side effects.
American Pain Society