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    Dr. Paddo - Wednesday 30 October 2023

    Chronic fatigue: can cannabis help?

    Chronic fatigue is a serious condition for which no cause or treatment has yet been found. But there is hope on the horizon, as research shows that cannabis may help. Cannabis contains various substances, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, that affect your physical and mental health. In this blog we take a closer look at what is known about cannabis and chronic fatigue.

     

    Always tired

    Chronic fatigue is a disease, even though it is often thought (unfortunately also by doctors) that it is "all in the mind". The difficult thing is that despite much research, it is not yet clear what the cause of the disease is. Chronic fatigue (CFS) is actually not a good name. It's not about being tired, but about a feeling of exhaustion. The body can hardly tolerate exertion.

     

    Someone with CFS is always tired, even if he or she gets enough sleep. Effort causes a worsening of complaints. You also suffer from concentration problems, digestive complaints, palpitations, and you quickly get out of breath. There's not much you can do anymore. People with CFS are often no longer able to do their work, have no energy for sports or other hobbies and relationships with family and friends suffer.

     

    If you have suffered from chronic fatigue for more than 6 months, you have CFS. Long Covid, the persistent fatigue after a corona infection, also falls under CFS. In that case, a cause can be found.

    Regular treatment of CFS

    Normally, the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome consists of guidance from experts. This can be at a rehabilitation centre, but your GP and physiotherapist can also help. You can also be guided by a psychologist. Cognitive behavioural therapy is then used, where you learn to deal with your complaints differently.

     

    In principle, there is no medicine or therapy that can cure the disease. However, you can gain more insight into your complaints and learn to deal with your energy differently. Sometimes people with CFS recover, but complaints often persist for years. That is why it is good that more research is being done into alternative treatments for chronic fatigue, such as cannabis.

     

    Research into the effects of cannabis on chronic fatigue

    In Australia, patients with CFS were treated with cannabis. Since 2016, patients in this country who have a condition that does not respond to other treatments have been allowed to use medical cannabis to relieve complaints.

     

    Margaret-Ann Tait at the University of Sydney examineda group of patients who have chronic health conditions and who use cannabis. This research could give them more insight into the effects of cannabis. 2327 Australians took part in the study. They used a mixture of THC and CBD dissolved in MCT oil. The investigation lasted more than a year.

     

    The patients self-reported on their experiences, such as quality of life, anxiety, depression and sleep. They did this before the cannabis treatment, two weeks after starting the treatment and then once a month for three months. The age of the participants was between 18 and 97 years.

     

    Most people used cannabis for more than one condition, including chronic pain, anxiety and insomnia. The patients reported experiencing clinically relevant improvements in quality of life and fatigue.

     

    But there were also improvements in moderate and severe anxiety and depression. It was striking that there was no improvement in sleep, for which many patients also used cannabis. No data was collected on the side effects of cannabis. On the other hand, there were 30 patients who withdrew from the study due to unwanted side effects.

     

    Conclusion of the study

    The researchers find the data obtained very relevant. According to them, cannabis can be effective for previously untreatable chronic conditions. Medical cannabis can help relieve pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression in patients with chronic illness. It can improve the quality of life. More research is still needed into the most effective doses and how the drug can be used. Although these patients were not diagnosed with CFS, chronic diseases are associated with severe fatigue and cannabis may therefore also help.

    Otherresearch into cannabis and fatigue

    In April 2022, astudy was conducted published in the University of New Mexico's Karger Journal. The scientists conducted research into the effects of medical and recreational cannabis (which are freely available) on fatigue. This is the first time this has been investigated. 1,224 people participated, who tracked their cannabis use between June 2016 and August 2019 via an app (the Releaf App).

     

    The research shows that almost 92% of people felt less tired after consuming cannabis. What struck the researchers was that there was no difference between the effectiveness of different strains (Indica or Sativa). They think it's not the THC and CBD levels that make the difference in users' fatigue. It is probably other cannabinoids and non-cannabinoid substances, such as terpenes, that are responsible for this.

     

    Cannabis for chronic fatigue?

    Many people think that using cannabis leads to more lethargy, more fatigue and a lack of motivation. These studies say the exact opposite and highlight a new aspect of cannabis. The researchers of the latter study conclude that cannabis buds can have a quick effect and can have a positive influence on fatigue complaints.

     

    Do you want to start using cannabis and do you suffer from chronic fatigue? It's worth trying. Check out our shop for the range of medical strains. However, be aware that everyone is different and responds to cannabis in their own unique way. Start slowly and see how your body reacts. If in doubt, seek advice from a doctor.

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