For the first time ever, researchers carried out a study on the effects cannabis has on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) symptoms.
In the study titled “The Effects of Consuming Cannabis Flower for Treatment of Fatigue”, the authors wrote:
“Using the largest database of real-time effects of cannabis usage in the USA, we found that combusting whole, dried cannabis flower has a generally fast-acting and energetic effect for the majority of people that have symptoms of fatigue.
“While some user sessions resulted in increased fatigue or fatigue-related side-effect experiences, the vast majority of people (about 92%) reported an overall decrease in their perceived fatigue intensity levels, averaging roughly 3.5 points on a standard 0–10 visual analog scale.”
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), is a long-term condition that has many different symptoms.
The most common, obviously, is feeling extremely tired – to the point where it has a huge impact on the quality of a person’s life.
Along with being tired, here are the other most common symptoms:
- Still feeling tired after sleeping
- Long recovery times after exercise
- Sleeping problems
- Problems with memory and concentration
Some people may also experience muscle or joint pain, headaches, and dizziness.
According to this study, there are 260,000 people in the UK that currently live with chronic fatigue syndrome.
But what’s more, it’s still unknown what causes CFS – some experts believe it could be triggered by an infection or other lifestyle choices which could raise the probability of developing it over time.
And since CFS cannot be fully explained, there are currently no specific diagnostic tests available, and there is no known cure to treat the disease.
1,224 people recorded 3,922 cannabis flower self-administration sessions on an app called Releaf between 6 June 2016 and 7 August 2019.
The app ‘Releaf’ was designed to help patients track and monitor the effects consuming cannabis products has on their various conditions.
The app records things like product types and cannabinoid content, while also enabling users to keep an electronic diary of session-specific effects for self-monitoring and self-administered cannabis use.
Tyler Dautrich, COO at MoreBetter (the creators of Releaf), said “We’re excited to see real-world data and studies support the use of cannabinoids for helping individuals manage their fatigue and energy levels,”.
How effective is cannabis in treating CFS?
This first large-scale study found that 92% of people experienced decreased fatigue following cannabis consumption, with an average symptom intensity reduction of 3.48 points on a 0-10 scale.
The data shows that the levels of THC and CBD weren’t generally associated with changes in the intensity of patient’s symptoms and researchers didn’t record to what extent the effects were due to THC, CBD, or the two combined.
However, people who smoked the flower in a joint, rather than a vape or pipe, reported greater symptom relief.
The same authors of this study have previously written about the effects of cannabis on chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia – all of which experienced increased energy levels and were able to cut back on the use of other medication.
Co-author and Associate Professor Jacob Miguel Vigil in the UNM Department of Psychology Department said:
“Despite the conventional beliefs that frequent cannabis use may result in decreased behavioral activity, goal-pursuit, and competitiveness, or what academics have called ‘amotivational syndrome,’ people tend to actually experience an immediate boost in their energy levels immediately after consuming cannabis.
“The current study shows that whole, natural cannabis flower has fast-acting and energetic effects for the majority of users who use it for treating fatigue. However, novice users generally should avoid high levels of THC.” the authors of the study concluded.
Co-author and Associate Professor Sarah Stith in the UNM Economics Department said:
“One of the most surprising outcomes of this study is that cannabis, in general, yielded improvements in symptoms of fatigue, rather than just a subset of products, such as those with higher THC or CBD levels or products characterized as Sativa rather than India.
“In the near future, I anticipate that patients will have the opportunity to access more individualized cannabis products, with distinct and known combinations of chemical profiles for treating their specific health needs and lifestyles.” She added.