A University of Michigan study of 878 patients using CBD to treat fibromyalgia has found more than 70% substituted it for opioids or other pain medications.

The team found many participants in the study either decreased use or stopped taking opioids altogether. “I was not expecting that level of substitution,” said research investigator Kevin Boehnke.

Those using CBD products also containing THC reported higher rates of substitution and greater symptom relief.

CBD oil with dropper

Boehnke said the findings come despite people often using CBD without medical guidance and in the absence of relevant clinical trials. “Even with that lack of evidence, people are using CBD, substituting it for medication and saying it’s less harmful and more effective.”

He said more research is needed into how CBD may provide these benefits and to test for a placebo effect.

Fibromyalgia is a common condition in which people experience symptoms that include widespread pain and tenderness in the body, often accompanied by fatigue and problems with memory and concentration.

It is difficult to treat, often involving several medications with significant side effects and modest benefits, with alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage not covered by medical insurance in the US.