MedicalResearch.com: What are the highlights of your review?
Dr. Fitzcharles: Thank you for your interest in the review article which will shortly be published in Arthritis Care & Research. This was not a research study but rather a review focused towards the use of herbal cannabis for patients with rheumatic diseases.
The essence of our message after a thorough review of the literature is that there is not a single study published regarding efficacy or side effects of herbal cannabis in the rheumatic diseases. It is notable that almost 2 thirds of persons using herbal cannabis for therapeutic reasons report use for musculoskeletal complaints. In the 21st century, we cannot rely upon heresay or anecdote to justify use of a treatment intervention. It is unacceptable to recommend use of a substance without knowledge of concentration of molecules in the product, any knowledge of blood concentrations that might have a positive or negative effect, and formal study in defined patient populations with acceptable endpoint criteria and evidence for short and long term risks.
With the knowledge of short and long term risks that are emerging from study of recreational user, we recommend that the herbal product should only be used in the extreme and very rare situation when a patient with rheumatic disease is suffering severe pain that has been unresponsive to trials of standard medical therapy.