Fibromyalgia and Medical Marijuana
What the experts have to say about the use of marijuana for treating fibromyalgia.
Is medical marijuana legal? continued...
Marijuana, LSD, and heroin were all initially placed in Schedule I -- the
most addictive, and least medically useful, category.
To further entangle the legal issues, several states have passed their own
controlled substance laws that conflict with federal laws. That includes drug
policy reforms and "compassionate use" laws that allow patients with terminal
and debilitating diseases to use medical marijuana. In order to be able to use
it, a patient needs to have documentation from a doctor.
The American Chronic Pain Society says in ACPA Medications & Chronic
Pain, Supplement 2007: "Some states allow the legal use of marijuana for
health purposes including pain, while the federal government continues to
threaten physicians with prosecution for prescribing it."
The uses of medical marijuana
"Medical marijuana has many uses," Abrams says. "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 doesn't "cure" disease. But patients worldwide have used
it to relieve a variety of symptoms, including:
- increased intraocular pressure from glaucoma
- nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy for cancer
- pain, muscle spasticity, and insomnia from spinal cord injury
- pain, stiffness, and muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis
- weight loss and loss of appetite from HIV
In 2003, Abrams published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine
on the interaction between medical marijuana and protease inhibitors in AIDS
patients. "We showed that there was no real downside to smoking cannabis for
these patients. It didn't interfere with their immune system. In fact, it might
have been beneficial to their immune system in the end."
The pros and cons of medical marijuana for pain
Abrams found that medical marijuana worked for patients with HIV and
peripheral neuropathy (painful, damaged nerves). That study was
published in TheJournal of Neurology in 2007. "We did a randomized,
placebo-controlled clinical trial that demonstrated that smoked cannabis was
effective in this situation," says Abrams. "The people who say there's no
evidence that smoked marijuana has any medicinal benefits really can't say that
anymore. The drug was quite comparable to the best available treatment we
currently have for painful peripheral neuropathy."