Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs through inflammation. When operating correctly, the immune system effectively fights off bacteria, bacteria and germs to remain healthy. In an autoimmune disorder, like lupus, the body is unable to tell the difference between harmful foreign invaders and healthy tissues and it responds by creating autoantibodies that cause inflammation and attack and destroy the healthy tissue. Lupus can damage the body’s skin, kidneys, blood cells, joints, heart, brain and lungs.
Lupus can also be caused by many legal prescription drugs — over 400 different types, to be exact. Drug-Induced Lupus is one of its many types; others include Lupus Nephritis, which affects the kidneys, and Cutaneous Lupus, which targets skin and commonly forms a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose.
According to the Lupus Foundation of American, flares and remissions characterize the autoimmune disease, as symptoms will continuously flow between worsening and improving. The disease is not contagious.
It can be difficult to diagnose lupus. While it doesn’t occur in all cases, during flare-ups, the most distinctive symptom is a facial rash that resembles butterfly wings across both cheeks. When symptoms flare up, they can include fatigue and fever, joint pain and stiffness, skin lesions, shortness of breath and chest pain, dry eyes, headaches and fingers and toes that turn white or blue.
The disease can range from mild to life threatening and while there is no cure, with treatment, most people can manage their symptoms and lead a full life.
Effects of Cannabis on Lupus
Perhaps the most damaging outcome of lupus is inflammation. Left untreated, inflammation can cause severe health outcomes. Inflammation is one of the key physical factors that leads to Alzheimer’s later in life. It can also lead to tissue scarring, which can cause significant damage to organs, muscles, and tendons over time.
Fortunately, marijuana is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory.
Cannabis has been found to effectively improve inflammation and pain, making it beneficial for those diagnosed with lupus. The key to treating lupus with cannabis is high levels of CBD orally ingested daily. Capsules seem to be the most convenient
The major cannabinoid found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been determined to trigger cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which are primarily found in the brain and on the cells of the immune system, respectively. Triggering these receptors stimulates an immunosuppression response, as cytokine and chemokine production is downregulated and t-regulatory cells are upregulated. A review article analyzing the research of THC’s effect on inflammation concluded that the cannabinoid found in cannabis has demonstrated it can constitute as a potent treatment modality against inflammatory disorders (Nagarkatti, et al., 2009).
Cannabis can also help curtail the pain associated with inflammatory diseases like lupus. Receptors CB1 and CB2 are involved in the mediation of pain caused by inflammation, so as the cannabinoids in cannabis act upon the receptors, pain decreases. One study found that cannabis use is prevalent among the chronic pain population and their primary responses for reasons for use included improvements in pain.
Like most conditions treatable with cannabis, there’s a frustrating shortage of research substantiating personal testimonies.