The University of Manitoba in Canada recently held a randomized trial using nabilone (a synthetic cannaboid that mimics the main ingredient in marijuana) for the treatment of fibromyalgia pain.
Nabilone has been approved by the FDA for other uses, such as treating cancer patients who have nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy that can not be controlled by other medicines.
The purpose of the study trial was to determine if nabilone would improve pain management and quality of life for Fibromyalgia patients. The four-week study used forty Fibromyalgia patients who were divided into two groups – one group received the naboline and the other group a placebo.
The patients were assessed at two weeks during the study then again at four weeks. The visual analog scale (VAS) was used (0 = no pain; 10 = worst pain imaginable), the number of tender points, the average tender point pain threshold, and the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) that evaluates the impact Fibromyalgia is having on the functioning capacity and quality of life of the patient.
At the end of four weeks the patients that received the nabilone showed a major decrease in their VAS & FIQ scores; however, there was not significant improvement found in the number of tender points or the tender point pain thresholds.
In eight weeks the patients returned after a total of four weeks without the naboline. The outcome for both groups showed no significant difference from their original baseline scores which shows that Nabilone does not have any lasting benefit once treatment is stopped.
The researchers of the study reported that nabilone appeared to be a beneficial, well-tolerated treatment option for Fibromyalgia patients giving them significant improvement in pain relief and functional capacity. Since this was the first study and the trial period was short and only a small number of people were used for the trial, researchers feel that future studies are necessary to accurately assess whether nabilone is an effective treatment for Fibromyalgia.