Medical Pot May Help Fibromyalgia Pain

Fibromyalgia is notoriously difficult to treat and, according to some studies, only 35 to 40 percent of people with the condition get relief from the available medications. Although there is controversy surrounding its use, some fibromyalgia patients are trying marijuana (legally and illegally) and are finding good results as it helps relieve some of their pain.

Marijuana has a host of components called cannabinoids. Some experts report that these components may have medicinal properties. In a paper published in 1999 entitled Marijuana and Medicine Assessing the Science Base researchers at the Institute of Medicine reported that cannabinoids have benefit in relief of pain, increase in appetite, and relief of nausea and vomiting.

With a hard-to-treat condition like fibromyalgia, it can be tempting to jump at the promise of an effective treatment, but first consider some of the pros and cons.

The Pros Cons of Medical Marijuana

While some fibromyalgia patients have reported relief from pain, improved sleep, and improved appetite from marijuana use, marijuana has some other elements to consider.

Marijuana is a complex natural substance that contains about 60 different compounds, some of which may interact with one another. The problem, says Stuart Silverman, M.D., a rheumatologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, is that the amount of these various compounds may vary by batch, as marijuana is not synthesized but grown. In other words, marijuana can be inconsistent and you never know what you are buying.

Some other things to consider are the side effects, which include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth

Because of the inconsistency in delivery, there have been efforts in developing cannibis-based synthesized drugs.

New Cannabis Drugs

One preliminary Canadian study published in February 2008, announced that a new marijuana-based compound — nabilone — significantly reduced pain and anxiety for 40 fibromyalgia patients in Manitoba. Nabilone has been used in Canada to treat nausea during chemotherapy.

Marinol is the only cannabinoid currently approved for use in the U.S. It's expensive—about $4,000 a year—and only an estimated 10 to 20 percent of the THC gets into the bloodstream after metabolism.

The Legality of Marijuana

While marijuana is illegal by the federal government of the United States, certain states allow it to be used as medical treatment. It's now legal in 14 states. The legality of medical marijuana is determined state-by-state and rules and regulations vary widely. If you are considering medical marijuana for your fibromyalgia pain, be sure to check your states rules and regulations.

Self-Care to Manage Your Fibromyalgia

If medical marijuana is not for you, or even if it is, and you are looking for self-care techniques support you and relieve your pain, consider the following.

  • Reduce stress. Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.
  • Get enough sleep. Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.
  • Exercise regularly. At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it regularly often decreases symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.
  • Pace yourself. Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have more bad days.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake. Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.

Note: If you want to see if medical marijuana is right for you, talk to your doctor.




Harding, Ann. Medical Marijuana May Help Fibromyalgia Pain. 18 Feb. 2010. Wed. 1 Apr. 2010.,,20345530,00.html

Joy, Janet E., Stanley J. Watson Jr., and John A. Benson. "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base." Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1999. Web. 1 Apr. 2010.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Fibromyalgia." Web. 1 Apr. 2010.

Medical Marijuana by State. Web. 1 Apr. 2010.,,20345389,00.html?cnn=yes.

Taylor, Rebecca B. "Fibromyalgia and Medical Marijuana." WebMD. 16 May 2008Web. 1 Apr. 2010.