Introduction: Medical cannabis (MC) is becoming more and more popular among patients with chronic pain syndromes. In this study we evaluated the characteristics of MC use among patients with fibromyalgia.
Methods: All patients with fibromyalgia who were followed up at Laniado Hospital in Netanya and at the Nazareth Hospital in Nazareth, in addition to all patients followed at the different health service organizations by the first author were located and contacted regarding a large number of parameters. The data included demographic information, duration of fibromyalgia symptoms and diagnosis, duration of MC use, monthly consumption of MC, frequency of daily use, number of species of MC currently used, number of species previously used, types and features of MC supplied, methods of MC consumption, delay in MC supply, symptoms of cannabis withdrawal during delay in supply or shortage of MC, familiarity with the content of (-)- trans-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) of the current species used. Furthermore, information was retrieved on current medications for fibromyalgia and medications for fibromyalgia stopped after starting MC consumption, discontinuation of MC treatment, companies growing and supplying the currently consumed MC, names of current MC species, dominance of Sativa or Indica of the current MC species, and the impact of MC on clinical parameters such as pain, sleep, anxiety, depression, memory, concentration and weight. In addition, questions were presented regarding work, outdoor leisure time, driving, sharing their own MC with other people, opinion on the reform of MC in Israel and adverse effects of MC.
Results: One-hundred and one patients completed the study; 73% of the participants were female with a mean age of 45±11.8 years. The mean duration of fibromyalgia symptoms and diagnosis were 8.39±6 and 4.69±3.9 years, respectively. The mean duration of MC consumption was 15.3±12.6 months and the mean monthly consumption amount was 28.6±10.2 g. 54% smoked pure cannabis, 18% used vaporized cannabis only and 3 participants only used MC oil. The rest used a variety of combinations. The mean minimal daily frequency of MC consumption was 4.11±2.9 times and the mean maximal daily frequency was 7.9±5.6 times. The mean number of current daily MC species was 2.11±1 and the mean number of tried species was 6.7±5.2 for each participant; 47% of all the participants stopped any other treatment for fibromyalgia and 51% reduced the dose or the number of other medications for fibromyalgia. One patient only stopped MC treatment. Tikun Olam was the manufacturing company with the largest number of clients and its most popular species for daytime was « Alaska » and « Erez » for night-time. Mean improvement in sleep and pain was slightly more than 77% with less improvement in other parameters; 36% of the patients reported weight gain, while 16% reported weight loss; 51% reported having more leisure time outdoors. Nearly all patients refused sharing any amount of their MC with friends or family members, and all patients recommended MC treatment for their loved ones once they develop severe fibromyalgia; 61% of the participants were against the reform of MC and 11% were in favor of it. Nearly one quarter of the patients reported mild adverse effects and one patient developed a psychotic attack (was consuming 70 gram of MC monthly).
Conclusions: MC is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, with nearly zero % withdrawal from this treatment. The mean daily amount consumed was relatively low, less than 1 gram, and the main method of consumption was smoking with a huge variety in the frequency of smoking during the day and night among the participants. MC treatment enabled nearly half of the patients to discontinue any treatment for fibromyalgia and all participants recommended MC treatment for their loved ones in case they develop severe fibromyalgia. Most participants were against the reform of MC in Israel. Mild adverse effects were reported in nearly a quarter of the patients but did not result in discontinuing its consumption.