Medical Marijuana – Does it work?
Medical Marijuana has gained a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. There is evidence that it might help treat various conditions, not only chronic pain from hypermobility. However, there is still a lot we don't know, like how (and if) it works . Research studies are underway in the US and abroad, so we will have to keep an open mind and consider each patient individually when discussing this as a treatment option. For example, there may be safer more reliable treatment approaches to take prior to experimenting with medical marijuana. For hEDS/HSD patients, these include 1st – PT/OT, then heat therapy (heating pads, warm baths, etc), acupuncture, TENS units, massage, craniosacral therapy (CST), and topical medications. The latter come in all varieties, over-the-counter products like Biofreeze, Capsaicin based creams, CBD oils, etc. Some of these in combination may be better than any one alone.
If medical marijuana is being considered, beware that the two most significant side effects are brain fog and fatigue. Many patients suffer from these already because of hEDS/HSD. Other adverse effects include altered brain function that leave patients unable to work, forgetfulness, and loss of interest in doing things. There is also risk for dependence. For these reasons, it may be better to find a formulation with less or no THC, and higher in CBD. Having said this, many of our patients do find relief from medical marijuana and are able to tolerate the side effects of fatigue and impaired memory. If you feel like you have exhausted all other modalities listed above, then this would be a good time to continue the conversation with your primary doctor, to see if they will recommend medical marijuana. Currently, the FDA has not approved the use of medical cannabis, so Mayo Clinic in Florida does not certify people for medical marijuana or allow its use on campus or in the hospital. If you would like to read more on the topic, Mayo Clinic has a helpful guide. Stay tuned for more topics related to hEDS/HSD, treatments, and research here.
Author: Dacre Knight, MD, MS