The fight against physical and mental exhaustion caused by burnout syndrome gains a new ally: cannabidiol (CBD).
This is what scientific studies show, linking the use of this substance to the reduction in common symptoms of said disorder, such as stress, tiredness and depression. Here, we are going to talk about the medicinal properties of cannabis and how to use this therapeutic tool in the management of this syndrome.
How to Treat Burnout Syndrome with Medicinal Cannabis
As the disease’s name implies, burnout syndrome is a mental disorder that leads the patient to extreme exhaustion.
Usually, this picture results from exhausting and challenging work situations, which demand a lot of responsibility or competitiveness from those involved. Among the symptoms, the following stand out:
- Excessive physical and mental fatigue;
- Frequent headaches;
- Muscle aches;
- Changes in appetite;
- Sleep disorders;
- Difficulties in concentration and memory;
- Sudden changes in mood;
- Isolation, depression and anxiety disorders.
Professionals who work under stress, such as doctors and other healthcare professionals, are generally more subject to this strain.
As there is no specific drug to treat burnout, scientists have been directing their efforts in the search for allies, such as medicinal cannabis.
Cannabinoids derivatives show therapeutic properties, already demonstrated by science, in several psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychotic disorders. Also, symptoms like Chronic pain, inappetence and insomnia can also be effectively fought with the medicinal use of said plant.
Regarding burnout syndrome, medicines commonly used can lead to important side effects or take a long time to induce positive responses.
An example are antidepressants, which not rarely bring in a series of additional problems for patients such as headache, reduced libido and insomnia. In this sense, medicinal cannabis has been shown to be an interesting alternative, as it can bring therapeutic results without triggering relevant adverse effects.
Cannabidiol tested for burnout syndrome
Among the efforts of Science in the search for more assertive treatments for burnout syndrome, stands out the study published in 2021 in the Journal of the American Medical AssociationThe study was conducted by researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo (USP), and shows very promising results on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in the treatment of burnout.
Cannabidiol has anxiolytic and antidepressant properties capable of reducing the emotional exhaustion caused by said syndrome. To illustrate this perspective, the USP researchers conducted an open study with 120 health professionals (doctors, nurses and physiotherapists) who developed burnout syndrome as a result of exhausting work on the frontline fighting Covid-19.
Nesta investigação, os participantes foram acompanhados por 28 dias, divididos em dois grupos:
- 61 subjects were given a daily dose of 300 milligrams (mg) of cannabidiolin addition to standard therapy with general guidelines, motivational videos and the suggestion of regular physical activity;
- 59 subjects were given standard care alone.
Among the participants who were given CBD, there was a reduction of 60% in anxiety symptoms, 50% in depression symptoms and 25% in overall burnout compared to those who were given standard care alone.
>> You can read the full study here: Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Plus Standard Care vs Standard Care Alone for the Treatment of Emotional Exhaustion and Burnout Among Frontline Health Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
It is worth noting that, at the suggestion of the ethics committee that authorized the research – and considering the challenging context of the pandemic – there was no “blinding” in said study. Thus, the participants who were given cannabidiol were aware of it, which represents a limitation to the study due to the possibility of bias in the perception of improvement.
Therefore, although this study has brought important results regarding the therapeutic properties of cannabis in reducing the symptoms associated with burnout, future double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.
It is also important to emphasize that in several other scientific publications, cannabidiol was also considered safe and showed positive results for a number of diseases, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and different anxiety.
However, a safe and assertive prescription of CBD and other cannabinoid derivatives is only possible by doctors with appropriate education in the fieldso that they can establish individualized therapeutic strategies in order to optimize results and avoid potential side effects.
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Crippa JAS, Zuardi AW, Guimarães FS, Campos AC, de Lima Osório F, Loureiro SR, Dos Santos RG, Souza JDS, Ushirohira JM, Pacheco JC, Ferreira RR, Mancini Costa KC, Scomparin DS, Scarante FF, Pires-Dos-Santos I, Mechoulam R, Kapczinski F, Fonseca BAL, Esposito DLA, Pereira-Lima K, Sen S, Andraus MH, Hallak JEC; Burnout and Distress Prevention With Cannabidiol in Front-line Health Care Workers Dealing With COVID-19 (BONSAI) Trial Investigators. Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Plus Standard Care vs Standard Care Alone for the Treatment of Emotional Exhaustion and Burnout Among Frontline Health Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2021.