New Study Shows Rate of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Patients Treating Symptoms With Cannabis

EDS is a serious medical condition. Can cannabis be an effective treatment?
New Study Shows Rate of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Patients Treating Symptoms With Cannabis

New research out this month suggests that medical cannabis is extremely prevalent among patients looking to treat symptoms for a serious tissue disorder.

The study, which will be published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, found that more than one-third of patients diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) have used marijuana to manage symptoms.

NORML, which reported on the study last week, said that the researchers found that 37 percent “reported having used cannabis therapeutically,” with cannabis use particularly prevalent “among patients who reported experiencing either moderate or severe pain.”

“Of all of the traditional and complementary therapies used by respondents, ‘marijuana was self-rated as most effective,’” NORML noted in its write-up.

What is EDS?

The National Institute of Health defines Ehlers-Danlos syndrome as “a group of disorders that affect connective tissues supporting the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues,” the outlook for which can “range from mildly loose joints to life-threatening complications.” The hallmark symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are extremely flexible joints and elastic-like skin that is susceptible to bruising.

According to the NIH, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome “appears to be at least 1 in 5,000 individuals worldwide.”

The research published in the Journal of Medical Genetics, which was subsidized with grant support from University of Colorado Center for Innovative Design and Analysis, was based on surveys with “over 500 individuals through the EDS Society who reported having been diagnosed with EDS or HSD to ascertain what complementary and alternative therapies were used and their reported effectiveness in alleviating pain and improving quality of life.”

The authors said they “focused on the use of traditional Chinese therapies, herbal medications, and marijuana.”

“The most commonly reported therapies, used by 70-92% of participants, were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, opioids, and physical therapy,” the authors wrote. “Therapies rated by participants as most efficacious were opioids, physical therapy, and marijuana with 10-24% of those using these therapies rating them as extremely helpful. Patient-initiated complementary therapy use in EDS/HSD patients is widespread at 56%. Complementary therapies were largely utilized by EDS/HSD patients with higher reported pain levels. Providers caring for EDS/HSD patients should be aware of these data showing broad usage of predominantly non-prescribed therapies and be prepared to consider such usage in working collaboratively with these patients to develop comprehensive treatment plans to manage their chronic pain complications.”

NORML noted that “[a]lthough EDS is listed as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis therapy in a handful of states – including Connecticut, Illinois, and New Hampshire – there exists little clinical data assessing its safety and efficacy for patients with the disease.” 

Connecticut added EDS to the list of qualifying conditions earlier this year when it expanded its pool of potentially eligible patients. Lawmakers in the state also gave the greenlight for medical cannabis to be prescribed to patients suffering from chronic pain for more than six months. 

The state’s medical marijuana program, which was established by legislators in 2012, has 38 qualifying conditions for a cannabis prescription after the addition of EDS and prolonged chronic pain.

  1. Very great piece of Information. All I know about cannabis is it not only curing this but a lot other medical conditions. I have a long list. From mental health issues to neurological issues and pain relief marijuana has proven itself to be number one cure. Seems like every day they are coming out with a new condition Cannabis is helping. Although Cannabis has been prescribed to treat ailments for a long period of time. . Other conditions and symptoms in which medical marijuana have shown promise or results based on observational data and, to a much lesser degree, clinical studies include:

    Alzheimer’s Disease, including agitation and disease progression
    ALS cramping
    Anti-cancer experimental treatment, including breast, brain, colon, leukemia, lung and skin
    Autism spectrum disorders
    Autoimmune disorders
    Epilepsy and seizure disorders
    Huntington’s Disease
    Insomnia, often related to pain
    Meige’s Syndrome
    Migraine, cluster, and chronic headaches
    Mood disorders, including chronic depression and anxiety
    MS spasticity, pain and bladder dysfunction, tremor and dystonia
    Nausea and vomiting, especially from chemotherapy
    Parkinson’s Disease
    Tourette’s Syndrome

  2. The cannabis smoke differs from that of tobacco is its effects on the immune system. In general, cannabis has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects, which are beneficial to patients suffering from inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or multiple sclerosis. On the other hand, since regular cannabis smoking causes airway issues, the immunosuppressive effects may leave regular smokers more susceptible to respiratory infections. .This is another area that requires much more research than the US Government is willing to allow. The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory capacity of phytocannabinoids are well established, and these agents have a broad therapeutic potential in various inflammatory diseases, including cardiovascular diseases.

  3. I have EDS and am treating my disorder with cannabis. After 17 years of monthly pain management appts, prescription medications and 10 years of being on full disability I am prescription free and have returned to the work world as a nurse managing a medicinal marijuana dispensary here in FL! Thank you for this article.

  4. I can’t believe they have an EDS article on here!!! I have classical EDS and have widespread joint/muscle/organ pain. I don’t want to take pain pills I’m only 29 so marijuana has been a life saver for me. Since Oklahoma became legal my quality of life is improving

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