Medical recognition for Chronic Fatigue is recent and treatment studies are sparse, but patients say cannabis helps.
It’s been a long time coming for people with chronic fatigue, but finally, it seems as if experts agree that it’s a legitimate diagnosis – and cannabis may help it. For decades, physicians debated whether or not it wasn’t some creation of the imagination – a disease for hypochondriacs. In fact, in the ’80s, people often called chronic fatigue the “yuppie disease.” But, we know today that the condition is not something pulled out of the imagination. It’s a very real and extremely challenging life-limiting diagnosis.
Before going further, we should note that the term chronic fatigue is a bit outdated. That said, we’ll be using it for this article, as many people still use this term outside of medical research. Officially speaking, chronic fatigue is now known as Myalgic encephalopathy or systemic exertion intolerance disease. These terms are often used interchangeably, but all describe the same condition.
As with many other illnesses with no known cure, people have begun experimenting with cannabidiol (CBD) for chronic fatigue. Cannabinoids, like CBD, have an intimate yet complicated relationship with sleep. Just maybe, CBD is the missing puzzle piece to this frustratingly mysterious disorder.
What is Chronic Fatigue?
The truth of the matter is chronic fatigue is a medical conundrum, even for the experts. Sometimes it seems to arise from a lingering infection, immune dysfunction, or hormonal imbalance. Yet, other times from nothing at all. What triggers chronic fatigue is not fully understood.
The symptoms range from memory and concentration issues, enlarged lymph nodes (neck, armpits), muscle and joint pain, headaches, and extreme exhaustion for 24 hours after physical or mental stimuli. The underlying symptom that connects all the dots is fatigue.
To date, there are no tests available to diagnose the disorder. Physicians instead rule out all other options before landing on chronic fatigue. The condition, unfortunately, is incurable. While there are some useful treatment options, chronic fatigue remains a lifelong battle.
As you read through the various symptoms, did any of them ring a bell? Muscle and joint pain, hormonal imbalance, inflammation, headaches, and memory are all controlled through the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis, and the many different cannabinoids found in the plant, frequently influence many of these same symptoms. Could CBD for chronic fatigue help?
Partially because nobody believed chronic fatigue was a legitimate condition, and partly because cannabis research is lagging behind, there is not a single scientific body of evidence for using CBD for chronic fatigue disorder.
Where does that leave us? We can review case studies and speculate on the future. Again, this isn’t much, especially for those frustrated with their lack of mobility and motivation, and decreasing quality of life. But it’s a start.
Success Stories of Cannabis for Chronic Fatigue
Highlighted in another article on RxLeaf, is the story of Tom Bethell. Bethell received a chronic fatigue diagnosis as a young boy. By the time he was a teenager, he was wasting away. His body stopped growing hair, his muscles couldn’t support his weight, and his quality of life was far behind those of his peers. Bethell’s parents became desperate.
His mother was already using CBD oil as a way to manage her Crohn’s disease and decided on a whim to try a dose on her suffering son. In Bethell’s case, CBD for chronic fatigue provided immediate relief from the symptoms. As his parents reported, within months he was growing again, including in stature, shoe size, and hair. In other ways, all the ways a healthy young man should.
His mother describes the transformation: “His memory is better and he can retain information. He’s gone from learning his three times tables to being able to attempt five GCSE exams, next year. Before he couldn’t even find the words to have a conversation.”
A Reddit user has also reported benefits from the herb. Although he reports relying on sativa instead of using CBD for chronic fatigue, his experience is still worth reporting. His case supports the case for cannabis to relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue.
According to user pwc36, “After two weeks I noticed I was actually feeling better. I moved up from the sub-basement to the basement of life […] have actually had an occasional smile on my face and have been running music through my head.” This is big news. And the Reddit user understood the immediate benefits: “I am feeling better than I have in five years or so. I was actually outside Saturday fixing a broken porch step.”
More to Learn about CBD
We know much more about CBD for conditions like epilepsy, inflammation, and anxiety than we know about CBD for chronic fatigue. There is a very long way to go before we even understand the disorder, let alone begin testing possible cannabis treatments on it.
What is clear about CBD for chronic fatigue, however, is that it’s no less than any of the other available options. These treatments show some desperation, and include just about anything, like antidepressants, “Feldenkrais posture exercises, oils of fish or flax, electrical nerve stimulation, probiotics, antioxidants, oxygen therapy, compression socks, water (yes, plain old water).”
Cannabidiol isn’t another snake oil, and at the very least it’s proven safe to take in almost all clinical applications. The adverse effects, if they do occur, are mild and short-lived. Plus it is non-intoxicating and natural. For someone decades into a chronic fatigue diagnosis, it might be worth a shot – even if it’s a shot in the dark.