A few studies using marijuana for fibromyalgia have had positive results. Overall, marijuana has been found to decrease pain and anxiety, and improve sleep and general well-being.
“There is actually some evidence that the levels of at least one endocannabinoid (anandamide) increase in the circulation of patients with fibromyalgia,” says Prof. Roger G. Pertwee from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. “There is also considerable evidence that anandamide is often released in a manner that reduces unwanted symptoms such as pain and spasticity in certain disorders. … It is generally accepted that THC, the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, can relieve pain, including neuropathic pain for example, by directly activating cannabinoid receptors. … Some non-psychoactive constituents of cannabis have also been found to relieve signs of pain, at least in animal models.”
For anecdotal evidence, Russo cites the National Pain Foundation/National Pain Report survey in his review, saying, “The results of the survey strongly favor cannabis over the poorly effective prescription medicines. These results certainly support an urgent need for more definitive randomized controlled trials of a well-formulated and standardized cannabis-based medicine in fibromyalgia inasmuch as existing medicines with regulatory approval seem to fall quite short of the mark.”
More research needs to be done to either prove or disprove CED’s existence.
“What we really need is randomized controlled trials to look at this more carefully, and that’s the only kind of evidence that the [Food and Drug Administration] and most doctors are going to find acceptable in the end,” Russo says.
MRI and PET scans are not yet able to detect endocannabinoid levels in living patients, but as technology advances, that may become a possibility. The ability to actually test endocannabinoid levels in fibromyalgia patients and compare those against healthy controls would help to confirm Russo’s theory.
“We’re on the edge of having that capability,” Russo says. “It’s in my plans to look at this type of thing in the future.”