The topic of medical marijuana is one that’s widely discussed and even debated. There has been promising research showing that marijuana does have potential medicinal benefits for certain conditions, so what about marijuana and lupus? Does marijuana help lupus?
Below is information about what lupus is, and then more specifically marijuana and lupus.
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What is Lupus?
Lupus is classified as a chronic autoimmune disease. When someone has lupus, it means that their immune system is hyperactive, so it begins to attack healthy tissue.
In someone without lupus, the immune system makes antibodies to protect against viruses and bacteria, but if you have the disease, your immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy tissue and those substances that produce an immune response. If you have lupus, your body essentially is directing antibodies at your healthy tissue, leading to inflammation, pain, and damage.
Any body part can be impacted by lupus including skin, organs, joints, the brain and more.
Lupus can range from mild to deadly, and it’s considered a systemic condition that’s not contagious. The vast majority of people with lupus are women, and it’s believed to be the result of genetic and environmental factors.
There’s not a cure for lupus, but the symptoms can be managed with corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs and also changes in lifestyle.
There are different kinds of lupus as well. For example, there’s discoid lupus which affects only the skin and is defined by rashes on the face, neck, and scalp. SLE is a more severe form of lupus that can affect any part of the body including organs and internal systems. Drug-induced lupus occurs when someone has a response to a prescription drug. There’s also neonatal lupus, resulting from a mother passing autoantibodies to a newborn.
With lupus, people will have periods of remission without symptoms, and then they will have flare-ups.
So, what about the relationship between marijuana and lupus? Does marijuana help lupus, or could it make the disease worse?
Does Marijuana Help Lupus?
With marijuana and lupus, there is some research showing that it may be a valuable option for people not only with this particular condition but other autoimmune disorders. Cannabis has been shown to decrease inflammation in the body because it suppresses particular components of the immune system. Because of how cannabis may potentially affect the immune system it can help calm the abnormal immune response that is characteristic of lupus.
Specifically, cannabis lowers levels of something called interleukin-2 and raises interleukin-19 which is an anti-inflammatory protein. These are key factors that are leading researchers to believe there could be a beneficial link between marijuana and lupus.
In general, most researchers do believe that cannabis has the potential to fight pain and inflammation, and these are two of the biggest issues people with lupus suffer from.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that people need to smoke marijuana or even get high in order to receive the benefits.
With marijuana and lupus, people may actually be able to gain the benefits by using CBD which is a particular component of cannabis that doesn’t have psychoactive effects. High levels of oral CBD may be the best way for people to deal with their lupus symptoms. However, it’s important that people look for high-quality CBD products. CBD can be used as an oil under the tongue, it can be vaped, it can be taken in capsule form, and it can be included in edibles such as gummies.
The official stance on the use of medical marijuana and lupus from the Lupus Foundation of America is that they support more research being done on the topic. They also encourage people with lupus to speak with their doctor about the potential benefits of medical marijuana, rather than trying to self-medicate.
Summing Up—Marijuana and Lupus
So, does marijuana help lupus? It might.
Marijuana and lupus are being looked at by researchers because lupus is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system basically attacks healthy tissue. The use of marijuana may provide benefits to help control this autoimmune response and also alleviate symptoms of lupus such as pain and inflammation.
For people that want the benefits of marijuana but don’t want to feel high, there’s good news in that CBD which is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis may actually be extremely helpful for people with lupus.
While the research is interesting regarding marijuana and lupus, you should always rely on the advice given by your doctor, and you shouldn’t try to self-medicate. This can be dangerous because unregulated marijuana can have additives and you don’t know what you’re going to end up with.
The current stance of the Lupus Foundation of America is that more research is needed regarding marijuana and lupus, but they do support these efforts and the potential for marijuana to be used as a viable treatment option for people with this autoimmune disease.
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