A lot has been said about the potential benefits of cannabis as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. The claims of cannabis users, along with scientific and anecdotal evidence, have long ago traced the pathway to restate the use of cannabis both as a medicinal and recreational product. For those who remain skeptical, there is yet another medical research pointing out the benefits of cannabis as an effective treatment for burnout syndrome.
According to a study conducted by Robert Half, more than a third of workers in Denver were experiencing increased burnout symptoms in 2020 compared to previous years. However, these figures are certainly not limited to Denver. On the contrary, burnout cases seem to be increasing all around the globe.
Undoubtedly, 2020 was a challenging year. COVID-19 and the forced transition to home offices definitely took harsh tolls on the workers worldwide. The use of cannabidiol as a treatment for burnout gained relevancy during the pandemic, as fatigue and exhaustion were most noticeable among frontline health care workers.
What's the Burnout Syndrome?
Although burnout is not classified as a medical condition, the International Classification of Diseases portrays it as an “occupational phenomenon.” As the name suggests, burnout syndrome results from chronic workplace stress and challenging work situations that eventually lead the individual to complete exhaustion.
Herbert J. Freudenberger, a German-American psychiatrist, was the first to conceptualize burnout pathology during his work in a drug rehabilitation clinic.
These are the most commonly described symptoms:
- Excessive physical and mental fatigue
- Frequent headaches
- Muscle soreness
- Sleep disorders
- Appetite disorders
- Focus and memory issues
- Reduced professional efficacy
- Isolation, depression, and anxiety
Given that, in the first place, burnout is not classified as a disease, and second, that there’s no specific drug to treat it, the scientific community has turned to alternative treatments like cannabidiol to soothe the burnout impact on workers’ mental health and overall well-being.
Cannabis as an Effective Treatment for Burnout
Cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol are the two most researched and studied cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. Although regular marijuana users and advocators of the entourage effect claim that using the plant in its natural state is hands-down the best way to leverage all its benefits, the scientific community has been focused solely on the potential benefits of CBD, the non-psychoactive compound.
Today, plenty of anecdotal and medical evidence praises the positive impact of CBD on several psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and psychotic breaks.
CBD has also proved to be a successful treatment for several types of epilepsy, showing significant improvements in the Dravet Syndrome, the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and the Doose syndrome.
Regarding burnout, the use of traditional drugs such as antidepressants can be potentially counterproductive. Antidepressants can have unwanted side effects such as insomnia, reduced libido, inappetence, and headaches. On top of that, the course of action of traditional antidepressants can take much longer to produce positive responses to the burnout condition.
That’s why CBD has become an interesting alternative treatment for exhaustion and fatigue, as it can bring out positive results without triggering other adverse effects.
CBD tested as a Treatment for Burnout
On August the 13th, 2021, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a randomized clinical trial conducted by Jose Alexandre S. Crippa and other colleagues from the University of Sao Paulo.
This trial’s objective was to investigate the safety and efficacy of CBD therapy to reduce emotional exhaustion and burnout symptoms among frontline health care professionals working with COVID-19 patients.
For the purpose of the trial, 120 participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio by a researcher who was not directly involved with data collection. The first group received a daily dose of 300mg CBD (twice a day) plus standard care, while the second group received standard care alone, each for 28 days.
After 28 days, the trial found that the efficacy of daily treatment with 300mg of CBD, combined with standard care, was superior to standard care alone in reducing emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, the treatment with CBD significantly reduced the number of participants with scores indicative of anxiety and depression.
The use of CBD was associated with the same mild and transient adverse effects found in the group that received standard care alone. However, there were 4 cases of elevated liver enzymes and 1 case of pharmacodermia among the total participants.
The scientific community agrees that further research is necessary to broaden the conclusions drawn from this and other studies portraying CBD as a miraculous new-age treatment.
The truth is, cannabis is far from being a new-age treatment. On the contrary, countless historical records place the first medical, recreational, and industrial uses of cannabis or hemp as far as 5000 B.C.
Even if medical research on CBD is still in the early stages, society has started to overcome the old marijuana myths and embrace its benefits.