Many of us have experienced a profound sense of tiredness in our lives. Typically, this tiredness or fatigue is alleviated through rest. For an alarming percentage of Americans, this tiredness simply won’t resolve on its own and manifests as a condition known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which can interfere with the ability to lead normal, productive lives. While traditional medical treatments to control symptoms are available, alternative treatments have been investigated by the medical research community. One of these alternatives is medical cannabis, which represents a potentially safer and more effective option when compared to existing treatments.
Commonly referred to as CFS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complicated medical disorder that is poorly understood by the medical community. Affecting as many as 2.5 million individuals in the United States alone, it is a condition where tiredness and fatigue cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. CFS may be associated with certain viral infections, imbalances in hormone levels, or disorders centered on the immune system, but it remains unclear as to its exact nature, causes, and effects. Emotional stress may also be a potential cause. Symptoms of CFS include:
In severe cases, CFS may lead to lost productivity and restrictions on lifestyle choices. These factors can result in depression, which can then aggravate the condition itself.
Diagnosis of CFS is not as simple as a routine test. In fact, numerous tests to rule out other health problems is warranted, and even then diagnosis may be difficult. There is no cure for the condition; treatment for CFS instead focuses on symptom relief to help patients regain their active lifestyles.
Because it is unclear what causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, medical professionals focus on treating the symptoms. Antidepressants, typically in low doses, are sometimes prescribed to promote healthy restorative sleep and to reduce pain. For many patients, this treatment is effective, but such medications may produce undesirable side effects such as mood swings, restlessness, and even seizures. Patients concerned about the unpleasant and dangerous side effects of traditional CFS treatment may have a new option: medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis and cannabis-related products have been studied extensively in recent years. While research into the exact effects of cannabis is ongoing, researchers have focused on a class of chemical compounds known as cannabinoids – compounds that may unlock new benefits for managing a variety of serious health conditions.
Two cannabinoids stand out in medical research: cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. These naturally-occurring chemicals mimic compounds produced by the human body as part of the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids bind to receptors in this system, which is responsible for regulating several important body processes like nerve signal transmission. CBD and THC have both been shown in clinical trials to reduce perceptions of pain, which may be beneficial for those struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. CBD also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to alleviate the pain and discomfort of CFS. Because CFS may be an inflammatory condition as a response to an immune disorder, CBD represents an effective treatment option.
THC, the psychoactive compound known for its euphoric effects – the sensation of “highness” desired by recreational marijuana users – can improve energy and mental clarity, two factors that are associated with CFS. Sativa products will also help to improve energy during the day. By helping to manage the cognitive symptoms of CFS, patients may find that their anxiety and depression is lifted, further enhancing their recovery. For most patients, a medical cannabis strain or commercially-produced concentrate that balances levels of CBD and THC may be the most effective. Research continues into the role of medical cannabis in treating health conditions like CFS; researchers are confident that this safer alternative may prove to be an effective choice for managing the symptoms of CFS for millions of Americans.