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Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
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Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of connective tissue-affecting genetic
disorders that impacts about 1 in 5,000 individuals worldwide. Studies have
shown cannabis can help in managing the severe pain associated with the
Overview of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of genetic disorders that affects
connective tissues, including the skin, joints, and blood vessels.
Connective tissue is responsible for providing the strength and elasticity
to the body’s underlying structures. In all types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome,
the disorder’s effect on connective tissue causes joints to have an
unusually large range of movement and often causes skin to become overly
stretchy and fragile.
Loose joints caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are unstable and thus highly
susceptible to dislocation. They can lead to severe, chronic pain and
early-onset arthritis. Overly stretchy and fragile skin will also bruise
easily and the syndrome causes wounds to split open easily and leave scars
that widen over time. Damaged skin typically doesn’t heal well and stitches
will often tear out. Extra folds of skin are also a characteristic often
associated with the syndrome.
Some forms of Ehlers-Danlos that affect the vascular system can cause blood
vessels to rupture and lead to internal bleeding and be life-threatening. A
kyphoscoliosis form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can cause a severe curvature
of the spine that adversely affects breathing.
Patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome commonly experience severe pain, making
daily tasks difficult. The intense muscle pain, abdominal pain, neuropathic
pain, migraines and fatigue caused by Ehlers-Danlos has been found to be
significantly associated with psychiatric disorders and anxiety and mood
disorders (Herschenfeld, et al., 2015). The pain related to loose joints
from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome has been associated with a high prevalence of
psychosocial factors (Scheper, de Vries, Verbunt & Engelbert, 2015). Fatigue
and headaches are also common symptoms of the syndrome (Castori, et al.,
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is caused by genetic mutations and is therefore most
commonly inherited. The genes that become mutated and cause Ehlers-Danlos
syndrome are responsible for making proteins that are used to assemble
collagen. According to Mayo Clinic, if a person has the most common
varieties of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, there’s a 50% chance they will pass on
the gene to each child. New gene mutations can cause Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
in individuals with no family history of the disorder.
There is no cure for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, so treatment focus in on
managing symptoms. Pain medications are commonly required. For vascular
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, blood pressure medication may be used to reduce the
stress on blood vessels. Physical therapy is sometimes required to
strengthen muscles around loose joints.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Cannabis helps patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome manage the severe pain
commonly associated with the disorder. The studies supporting cannabis’
effectiveness as a pain reliever are vast. Cannabis has been shown to
significantly lower pain levels, even demonstrating effectiveness at
managing pain that has proven refractory to other treatments (Boychuck,
Goddard, Mauro & Orellana, 2015) (Wallace, et al., 2015) (Lynch & Campbell,
One study that looked at effective pain control methods for patients with
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome found that opioids were among the most useful
(Arthur, Caldwell, Forehand & Davis, 2015). Cannabis use was not among the
methods included in the study. However, while opiates are commonly used to
treat the pain associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the drugs sometimes
have problematic side effects, including sedation, appetite loss, nausea,
constipation and respiratory depression. Studies have found that
cannabinoids, compared to opioids, are effective at relieving pain in lower
doses and with fewer side effects (Elikkottil, Gupta & Gupta, 2009). After a
year of regular use, patients with chronic pain were found to be at no
greater risk of serious adverse effects than non-cannabis users (Ware, et
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Currently, no states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the
treatment of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. However, in Washington
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, a number of
other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the
treatment of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome with the recommendation from a
physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
Island (other conditions
subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
Several states have approved medical marijuana specifically to treat
“chronic pain,” which is a symptom commonly associated with Ehlers-Danlos
syndrome. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Twelve of 15 chronic pain patients who smoke herbal cannabis
for therapeutic reasons reported an improvement in pain
Cannabis for chronic pain: case series and implications for
Using cannabis has been shown to significantly improve
neuropathic pain that had proven refractory to other
effectiveness of cannabinoids in the management of chronic
nonmalignant neuropathic pain: a systematic review.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25635955)
Arthur, K., Caldwell, K., Forehand, S., and Davis, K. (2015, October 24).
Pain control methods in use and perceived effectiveness by patients with
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: a descriptive study. Disability
and Rehabilitation, 1-12, Epub ahead of print. Retrieved from
Boychuck, D.G., Goddard, G., Mauro, G., and Orellana, M.F. (2015 Winter).
The effectiveness of cannabinoids in the management of chronic nonmalignant
neuropathic pain: a systematic review. Journal
of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache, 29(1), 7-14.
Castori, M., Morlino, S., Celletti, C., Ghibellini, G., Bruschini, M.,
Grammatico, P., Blundo, C., and Camerota, F. (2013, December). Re-writing
the natural history of pain and related symptoms in the joint hypermobility
syndrome/Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, hypermobility type. American
Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A, 161A(12), 2989-3004.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. (2015, August 20). Mayo
Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20033656.
Elikkottil, J., Gupta, P. and Gupta, K. (2009, November-December). The
analgesic potential of cannabinoids. Journal
of Opioid Management, 5(6), 341-57.
Herschenfeld, S.A., Wasim, S., McNiven, V., Parikh, M., Majewski, P.,
Faghfoury, H., and So, J. (2015, October 3). Psychiatric disorders in
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are frequent, diverse and strongly associated with
International. Epub ahead of print. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26433894.
Lynch, M.E., and Campbell, F. (2011, November). Cannabinoids for treatment
of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials. British
Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 72(5), 735-744.
Scheper, M. C., de Vries, J. E., Verbunt, J., & Engelbert, R. H. (2015).
Chronic pain in hypermobility syndrome and Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (hypermobility
type): it is a challenge. Journal
of Pain Research, 8,
Wallace, M.S., Marcotte, T.D., Umlauf, A., Gouaux, B., and Atkinson, J.H.
(2015, July). Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy. Journal
of Pain, 16(7), 616-27.
Ware, M.A., Wang, T., Shapiro, S., and Collet, J.P. (2015, September 15).
Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study (COMPASS). The
Journal of Pain. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26385201.
What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome? (2015, November 2). Genetics
Home Reference. Retrieved from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/ehlers-danlos-syndrome.
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