Fibromyalgia Fighting with Flower Tops

Remember the uproar (about 6 months ago) caused by a report about illegal marijuana use by FM patients? According to that, 1 in 10 of you use marijuana for medicinal relief to combat FM symptoms, such as unexplained fatigue, and insomnia, widespread pain and other somatic symptoms.

marijuanaHerbal cannabis has been used for centuries as a painkiller, but nowadays it is mainly used outside of conventional medicine. According to the experts, because FM pharmacologic pain therapies provide only modest effects, some patients decide to self-medicate with more non-traditional therapies, such as marijuana.

New research published in Arthritis Care & Research, indicates that patients who self-medicate with herbal cannabis have poorer mental health and although experts believe that cannabinoids may have some therapeutic effect, they do warn individuals against the use cannabinoids until any health issues and psychosocial effects are clarified.

Leading researcher, Dr Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a professor of medicine at McGill University and consulting rheumatologist at Canada’s Montreal General Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre admitted:

Medical studies of cannabinoids in management of disease, including FM, have been limited. Marijuana is the most common form of cannabinoid, but an illegal substance in most countries, making it difficult to investigate without possible prosecution for possessing an illicit substance.

All 457 study participants were being treated at MUHC’s Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit. All study participants self-reported on their cannabinoid use. The team validated the participants FM diagnosis, examining links and trends of participants’ self-medication with medical marijuana, prescription cannabinoids, or both: 13% used cannabinoids and 80% used herbal marijuana to combat their symptoms. An analysis revealed that 24% of the cannabinoid users took prescription cannabinoids, like nabilone and dronabinol, whilst 3% used herbal cannabis and prescription cannabinoids. Those smoking marijuana reported a daily consumption of up to 6 grams, although 72% stated they used 1 gram or less per day.

marijuana-not-crackThe findings further revealed that the use of herbal cannabis was associated with unstable mental illness in 36% of users. The researchers also observed that 77% of cannabis users were unemployed, receiving disability payments, which according to the team may be because of ineffective pain control to improve functionality or more serious functional disabilities.

Dr Fitzcharles concludes, saying: 

While self-medicating with cannabinoids may provide some pain relief to FM patients, we caution against general use of illicit drugs until health and psychosocial issues risks are confirmed. Physicians should be alert to potential negative mental health issues in FM patients using illicit drugs for medical purposes. Some herbal cannabis users may be dishonestly using a FM diagnosis to justify self-medicating with illegal drugs.

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Absolute Silence Leads to Sadness

1980s-makeup-madonna-i3A long time ago, when I was about 18, I had a huge crush on a bartender at my regular night club. At the time, of course, I thought that I was desperately in love. I was crushed when he approached me to tell me he liked my best friend and asked me if she might be interested in him. As teenagers do (or did back then), both my friend and I went to the toilets to talk. Feeling very noble and selfless (and rational), I told my friend that if he liked her and she liked him, it didn’t matter that I ‘loved’ him.

I’m really quite sad (and angry under that) at the moment: basically, the same situation happened to me 25 years later -tonight…except I was playing the friend role. BUT the person playing me was not so self-sacrificing.

cartoonSo, tonight, a date that I was longing for after 10 days of FB messaging, texting and Skyping, is no longer; and I am sitting here, instead, writing my next post…so, I am (I think, deservedly) sad (and angry under that).

In the face of my emotional state, I wonder if this whole thing will cause a flare because women with FM are more emotionally sensitive than women who don’t have the condition – right? WRONG!

Researchers who set out to understand the role emotions play in FM pain may have ended up dispelling this myth. Scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands asked 121 women (About half the women had fibromyalgia; the other half did not) to think about a personal experience that made them angry or sad. The researchers then exposed the women to painful electric shocks.

All women in the study (about with FM and half without) felt more pain after becoming angry or sad. And the more emotion they felt, the more pain they reported.

The study, which is published in the October issue of Arthritis Care & Research, may help to dispel the notion that people who have FM are more emotionally sensitive than those without our mysterious illness – There was no difference seen between women who had FM and those who did not.

“We did not find that women with fibromyalgia were more sensitive to emotions than women without fibromyalgia,” says lead author Henriët van Middendorp, PhD, senior researcher in the Psycho-rheumatology Research Group at the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology of Utrecht University in The Netherlands. “However, because women with fibromyalgia already have heightened pain levels, the increase in pain due to negative emotions is troublesome, because the starting level of pain is already high.”

cowardly-sadness-aka-angerResearchers involved in the study say their findings suggest that techniques that reduce anger and sadness, including cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation, may play an important role in pain management.

“Many studies have shown that negative emotions and pain are associated, which likely reflects that pain causes negative feelings. However our study strongly suggests that negative emotions may also cause an increase of the pain,” van Middendorp says.

“Since drugs only work partially in fibromyalgia, everyone is looking for lifestyle and other things to do. So emotional regulation techniques might be helpful,” Robert S. Katz, MD, a rheumatologist and fibromyalgia expert at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, says.

By the way, it’s my birthday now (it’s after midnight)…so I’m sad (and angry under that).