Nearly half of the patients who completed the trial opted to discontinue or reduce their other analgesic treatments.
A whopping 50 percent of patients demonstrated moderate improvements in depression associated with the illness, while just over 42 percent showed similar improvements with regard to their anxiety. Additionally, 44 percent of patients experienced a significant improvement in the quality of their sleep, and 33 percent of patients had improved Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Revised (FIQR) scores, a questionnaire that measures the overall impact of the illness.
Beyond individual symptoms, however, almost half, or 47 percent, of the patients who completed the trial opted to discontinue or reduce their other analgesic treatments during or after the cannabis trials.
But the news isn’t all good. More than half of patients (54.5 percent) experienced clinical worsening of their fatigue, as demonstrated on a Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) Fatigue score. This indicates that cannabis may not be the ideal treatment for those already struggling with exhaustion as a result of their diagnosis.
The study, which was performed by researchers at the Luigi Sacco University Hospital, examined a small pool of 102 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disorder that involves musculoskeletal pain along with sleep, memory, mood and fatigue issues. Ninety-one percent of participants were female, as the illness disproportionately affects women.
Participants were administered two separate cannabis oils — one with a high-THC content, and one with a balanced potency of THC and CBD. Their symptoms were then monitored over a six-month period.
Notably, only 66 of the original 102 patients completed the entire six-month trial. Ten patients opted to continue their treatment at another healthcare facility, six patients discontinued the study as a result of adverse effects, and three patients dropped out due to a lack of benefit from the treatment. The reasons for the remaining dropouts were unreported.
“These findings of this study, conducted in response to the need to find new drugs for (fibromyalgia) patients whose standard therapy is insufficiently effective, showed that MCT [medical cannabis treatment] offers a clinical advantage in terms of efficacy, especially for its effects on sleep and quality of life,” the study concluded.
“However, further studies are required to establish the best therapeutic strategy in terms of posology, the THC/CBD ratio and treatment duration,” it added.
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Written by Emma Spears