Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that, while many people might be familiar with it by name, it is still shrouded in mystery – and that goes for doctors and scientists as well. However, for those who are familiar and even more so for those who suffer from this condition, a new glimmer of hope and relief is on the horizon as The Arthritis Society has recently announced that it will be conducting more research into treatment options. The most promising of which is the announcement of further funding in the research of medicinal marijuana.
In a press release dated December 19, 2016, The Arthritis Society wrote:
The Arthritis Society has announced the winner of its latest research grant for the study of medical cannabis and arthritis. McGill University’s Dr. Mark Ware, who has garnered a worldwide reputation as a leader in pain research, will lead a trial examining the use of oral cannabinoids for fibromyalgia – a disease that inflicts chronic pain on some 520,000 Canadians, most of them women1.
The study was selected from among several proposals submitted by Canadian researchers to receive the three-year grant, following an extensive peer review process by an impartial volunteer panel of cross-disciplinary medical and scientific experts as well as arthritis health consumers.
This is the second medical cannabis research project The Arthritis Society has funded in the past 18 months: in 2015, Dr. Jason McDougall was awarded a similar three-year grant to study the impact of medical cannabis on arthritis pain and disease management.
“These investments are about leading by example,” says Arthritis Society president and CEO Janet Yale. “Patients and physicians both need to be able to make informed decisions about whether cannabis has a place in the individual’s treatment plan. With these commitments, The Arthritis Society is doing its part to help fill some of the critical knowledge gaps around medical cannabis, but we can’t do it alone. There’s no reason for the government to wait until new legislation is in place to start addressing the issue. That’s why we continue to call on the federal government to make a firm commitment in the 2017 budget to fund $25 million in medical cannabis research over the next five years.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the condition, fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, resulting in widespread pain throughout the body. However, many fibromyalgia patients have reported that cannabis has a positive effect on the pain and management of symptoms, although this has yet to be confirmed in a large-scale clinical trial.
“This disease has a tremendous impact on a person’s life,” Dr. Ware explains, “but to date we haven’t really had any good treatment options to offer. Opioids and NSAIDs for pain management are often ineffective for fibromyalgia pain, or can have serious negative side effects – especially when used for prolonged periods. We hope to identify whether oral cannabinoids can offer the person with fibromyalgia hope for relief from their symptoms, and help restore their quality of life. We are grateful for the support of The Arthritis Society for this important project.”