Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E. or simply "ME") is an injury to the Central Nervous System and it is a chronic and disabling disorder. Usually triggered by an infectious disease process, e.g. a virus, or by chemicals over stimulating the immune system (or both). M.E. is a multi-system disease, affecting not only the neurological system but also the immune, musculoskeletal, endocrine (hormonal) and cardiovascular systems. It is sometimes termed ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), though ME is considered the more severe form.
Prognosis is variable depending on how much and which part of the brain has been damaged. Complete pre-illness recovery is rare but possible. Onset is usually rapid (acute) but gradual onsets are also reported. Affected individuals experience a wide variety of symptoms including an inability to produce sufficient energy to meet daily demands. Marked fatigue and weakness, sickness, cognitive dysfunction and symptom flare-up follows physical and cognitive exertion. Additional symptoms that may occur include headaches, pain, muscle weakness, neck pain, vision abnormalities (such as blurred vision), a sensation of tingling, burning or numbness of the extremities (paresthesia), bladder and bowel dysfunction, and sleep dysfunction. Cardiovascular abnormalities have also been reported as well as noise and light sensitivity, sleep and temperature disturbance and sensitivity to food, alcohol, chemicals and medicines.
M.E. may or may not be the same as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). This is because there are currently 10 different interpretative criteria for CFS, some with a psychiatric and others with an immunological specification. If the CFS criteria used involves damage to the Central Nervous System, then it could well be the same disease as M.E. Other CFS criteria used, focus on patients whose fatigue could be of psychiatric origin and this is not M.E.
Although there are no empirical studies or clinical trials specifically investigating the ability of cannabis to ameliorate symptoms of M.E., there are numerous existing clients in South Africa who report experiencing subjective relief from symptoms.
Typically, patients report experiencing relief from disturbed or unrefreshing sleep, joint and muscle pain, depression, and emotional imbalance. Some patients also report that cannabis use actually improves the primary symptom of fatigue, with many of these reports stating that medical cannabis oils high in CBD are more effective.
The potential of cannabis to improve poor sleep is relatively well-established; various studies have demonstrated that, including our clients confirming it. Deep sleep increased using CBN tincture which may lead to overall greater levels of refreshment in the subject.
Chronic pain is also well-known to be improved with cannabis use, and it has been demonstrated that this is the case both for neuropathic (caused by an injury or dysfunction of the nerve itself) and nociceptive (caused by a factor other than injury to the nerve itself, such as a wound or inflammation in neighbouring tissue) pain.
There have been a small number of studies investigating the role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the development and progression of M.E., and several studies investigating its role in stress and generalized fatigue, and post-viral fatigue conditions.
Cannabinoids found in cannabis can relieve M.E. Symptoms such as:
There is a great deal of work still to be done before our understanding of the relationship between the endocannabinoid system and conditions such as M.E. is complete. Remember to let us know if you get some relief by using medical cannabis. Please contact us if you have any questions.