Cannabis and Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases
Tal Gonen and Howard AmitalAbstract
Chronic pain is a common complaint among patients, and rheumatic diseases are a common cause for chronic pain. Current pharmacological interventions for chronic pain are not always useful or safe enough for long-term use. Cannabis and cannabinoids are currently being studied due to their potential as analgesics. In this review we will discuss current literature regarding cannabinoids and cannabis as treatment for rheumatic diseases. Fibromyalgia is a prevalent rheumatic disease that causes diffuse pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Treatment of this syndrome is symptomatic, and it has been suggested that cannabis and cannabinoids could potentially alleviate some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. In this review we cite some of the evidence that supports this claim. However, data on long-term efficacy and safety of cannabinoid and cannabis use are still lacking. Cannabinoids and cannabis are commonly investigated as analgesic agents, but in recent years more evidence has accumulated on their potential immune-modulatory effect, supported by results in animal models of certain rheumatic diseases. While results that demonstrate the same effect in humans are still lacking, cannabinoids and cannabis remain potential drugs to alleviate the pain associated with rheumatic diseases, as they were shown to be safe and to cause limited adverse effects.
Rambam Maimonides Med J 2020;11(1):e0007