A new US study suggests that cannabis use may help reduce fatigue, although authors make it clear that the ultimate effects depend on the individual consumer.
Based on the metabolic state of the consumer and the specific properties of the marijuana product consumed, the magnitude of the effect and the magnitude of the side effects experienced may vary. This is what the authors write in the article published in the peer-reviewed journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids.
The participants used cannabis commercially available in the US.
Despite increased legal access to and use of cannabis in the United States, particularly among older adults and patients with serious health conditions, authors write: “Health providers and consumers still have little formal guidance from the scientific and medical community about how to use the cannabis-based products they choose. Consuming it can affect feelings of fatigue and energy levels.”
Researchers wanted to get a better idea of the impact commercially available cannabis products can have on fatigue. To find out, from June 6, 2016 to August 7, 2019, they looked at 3.922 self-administered cannabis sessions by 1.224 individuals taking the Releaf app used.
With this app, users can “anonymously track real-time and historical experiences with specific cannabis and CBD products”, including where a product was purchased, why it is used, and how much it has been used, as well as experiencing symptom relief, feelings, and side effects.
Researchers considered subjective changes in fatigue intensity both before and after cannabis use.
The vast majority experienced overall improvement in fatigue
The results appeared to be consistent and dramatic. “On average, 91,94 percent of people experienced reduced fatigue after consumption”, notes the study. On a scale of zero to 10, the mean reduction in symptom intensity, as rated by study participants, was about 3,5 points.
More specifically, there was no significant difference in symptom relief for those using indica or sativa flowers, individuals smoking weed reported better symptom relief than those using pipes or vaporizers (vaping was associated with the least symptom relief), and THC and CBD levels were generally not associated with changes in symptom intensity.
But it wasn't all good news. Researchers report that less than 24 percent of users reported increased feelings of fatigue at some point, such as feeling unmotivated and locked up on the couch.
Energy wins from sitting on the couch
However, that percentage was lower than the up to 37 percent of study participants who reported experiencing more energy, that is, feeling active, energized, frisky or productive.
A survey of nearly 90.000 adolescents released in 2020 found that only seven percent of adolescents aged 12 to 15 who had used cannabis in the past do 60 minutes of physical activity daily, and that percentage is even lower for current cannabis users.
But a US study published in 2021 examining the relationship between cannabis use and exercise such as sports was assessed in young and middle age, determined that there could be a positive association between the two. “Marijuana use is not significantly related to exercise, contrary to conventional wisdom that marijuana users are less likely to be active”, researchers wrote.
Several findings related to cannabis use and physical activity may have given the University of Colorado Boulder the impetus to announce in late 2021 that it is recruiting people who combine cannabis with exercise for an upcoming study.
Of all users who have recorded side effects, the most recent survey shows that 68 percent report at least one negative side effect (such as a dry mouth or nauseated feeling), 96 percent report at least one positive effect (such as a relaxed or peaceful feeling), and 81 percent reported at least one context-specific side effect (such as feeling high or tingling).
They conclude that future research would benefit from examining real-time effects of cannabis use on behavioral and mental fatigue under altered physical states in healthy people and clinical populations.