(HealthDay News) — Health care professionals should currently discourage rheumatology patients from using herbal cannabis as a therapy, according to a review published online March 3 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MD, from McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues conducted a literature review in order to assess the medical evidence for the efficacy and side effects of herbal cannabis as a therapeutic agent for rheumatic conditions.

The researchers found that there is a growing gap between public advocacy for herbal cannabis as a therapeutic agent and the medical evidence supporting its use. The gaps in evidence include uncertainty of compound content; unknown dosing; and the indicators of harm, both in the acute as well as chronic setting. Other key findings include that cannabis should only be used in patients with pain nonresponsive to standard therapies (pharmacological and non-pharmacological) and that it should not be smoked or used in patients younger than 25 years.

“The evident mismatch between patients’ needs and good medical practice may in part be politically driven, with regulatory bodies acceding to public pressure,” the authors write.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)