Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
When you meet with your physician, they’re always considering whether the benefits outweigh the side effects of a medication, whether it’s a prescription drug or medical marijuana. While medical weed can cause side effects, like fatigue, its availability in different strains offers you and your doctor the opportunity to develop a treatment plan with minimal side effects.
While medical marijuana can cause unwanted side effects, like fatigue, it can also cause ones patients need. Those diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, for instance, may use medical weed as an appetite stimulant, which is also considered one of its potential side effects.
It’s crucial to note that your medical marijuana physician considers both the benefits and side effects of therapeutic cannabis before recommending it. If they feel it may cause you more discomfort, they won’t advise you to consider it as a treatment option. For them, it’s making sure your treatment plan offers you more pros than cons.
Medical cannabis can cause both fatigue and drowsiness. With fatigue, you’re low on energy and motivation, whereas with drowsiness, you’re experiencing an intense need to sleep, which is one reason why those with insomnia use medical weed.
Fatigue from medical marijuana results from overuse, whether in a single dose or the long-term. One of marijuana’s primary cannabinoids, called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is thought by researchers to cause a lack of energy and motivation.
In the case of short-term overuse, your body has too much THC and is still processing it. With dependency, your brain’s dopaminergic neurons — which serve as transportation routes for dopamine, a chemical associated with your motivation and energy levels — become altered and decrease dopamine production. With less dopamine, you become fatigued.
Symptoms of fatigue from medical cannabis often include:
Experiencing fatigue for an extended period can lead to other issues, such as low performance at work and a decreased interest in your favorite hobbies. Being fatigued day-in and day-out takes a lot out of you, which is why it’s essential you speak with your medical cannabis physician if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue.
In some cases, it may not even be a side effect of your medical weed. Fatigue is also a primary symptom of several conditions, including anemia, fibromyalgia, diabetes and even thyroid issues. That’s why it’s vital to see a doctor when coping with fatigue.
By working with your physician, as well as monitoring your dosage and intake of medical marijuana, you can prevent medical cannabis-induced fatigue. The most critical factor is taking a proactive approach and working with your doctor.
If you’ve started using medical weed and are now experiencing fatigue, it’s possible you’re consuming too much throughout the day. By adjusting your dosage plan with your physician, you can alleviate this side effect. If your doctor suspects your fatigue is the result of dependency, their primary goal will be to ensure your health.
Even though medical weed can cause fatigue, many patients still opt to use it under their medical marijuana doctor’s supervision. Quick changes to your treatment plan often make this symptom a non-issue, which is why it’s essential to have open, honest conversations with your medical cannabis doctor. With their help, you can customize your treatment plan to your needs.