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Possible Benefit for Cannabinoids in Rheumatic Conditions

Review shows limited benefit in terms of pain relief, sleep; mild to moderate adverse effects

MONDAY, June 6, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Cannabinoids may have limited benefits in rheumatic conditions, with some potential benefit in terms of pain relief and effect on sleep, according to a review published in the May issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, M.B.Ch.B., from the McGill University Health Center in Montreal, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of cannabinoids in the management of rheumatic diseases. Data were included for four short-term studies involving 203 patients (58 with rheumatoid arthritis, 71 with fibromyalgia, and 74 with osteoarthritis [OA]).

The researchers found that cannabinoids had a significant effect on pain in two studies, sleep in two studies, and improved quality of life in one study; the OA study was terminated prematurely due to futility. All three completed studies had high risk of bias. For almost half of the patients, dizziness, cognitive issues, and drowsiness were reported, as well as nausea. During the study duration there were no serious adverse events reported for cannabinoids.

“Pain relief and effect on sleep may have some potential therapeutic benefit, but with considerable mild to moderate adverse events,” the authors write. “There is currently insufficient evidence to recommend cannabinoid treatments for management of rheumatic diseases pending further study.”

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