How Cannabis Helps Lupus

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which your body can’t tell the difference between viruses, germs and bacteria and your body’s own healthy tissue. This leads to your immune system creating antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue, leading to inflammation, pain and damage to body parts. Lupus is characterized by flares, where symptoms worsen, and remissions, when symptoms improve. Unlike HIV or AIDS, where the immune system is underactive, the immune system is overactive in lupus.

Between 1.5 and 2 million Americans live with lupus, and most are women between the age of 15-45. The most severe cases of lupus are found in Asians and African-Americans. The most common type of lupus is system lupus erythematosus, which attacks several body organs. Drug-induced lupus is caused by using one of over 400 legal prescription drugs. Other types of lupus include cutaneous lupus, which mainly attacks skin and forms a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose, lupus nephritis, which attacks the kidneys, and neonatal lupus, which occurs in babies born to mothers with lupus.

Symptoms of lupus include pain all over but focused in hands, fingers, wrists, and knees, skin rashes, mouth sores, fatigue, mood changes, swelling of hands and feet, nausea, vomiting, depression, anxiety, seizures, fevers, weight loss, chest pain, hair loss, ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, anemia and abnormal heart rate.

How is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Disrupted in Lupus?

This is an area of medicine lacking in research. One day genetic studies will see if mutations in ECS genes are correlated with lupus. Because the immune system contains cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2), endocannabinoids directly influence the immune system.

How Does Cannabis Help Lupus?

Pain and inflammation are two major symptoms of lupus, and cannabis helps relieve both, without nasty side effects that prescription medications have. Cannabis increases the levels of anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-10 and decreases the levels of pro-inflammatory protein interleukin-2. Cannabis has also been shown to suppress the immune system by activating myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). MDSCs may help dampen the hyperactive immune system found in lupus.

Cannabis also helps treat symptoms of nausea and abdominal cramping that are often severe side effects of commonly prescribed drug for lupus, such as Plaquenil and corticosteroids.

How Can I Take Cannabis to Treat Lupus?

For patents who are not ready to quit taking their prescription medications yet, vaporizing cannabis is a great way to ease pain, reduce inflammation and decrease the severity of side effects from prescription drugs given to lupus patients. Vaporizing cannabis is better than smoking cannabis in a joint, pipe, or bong because it doesn’t burn the cannabis. Smoking cannabis releases toxins similar to cigarettes, can cause lung irritation and often disintegrates cannabinoids with healing properties. Vaporizing cannabis heats the air around the cannabis, releasing a range of cannabinoids, each with unique health benefit.

Eating large doses of cannabis oil daily is essential if you want to make the switch from pills to cannabis only. Cannabis oil made from high-CBD strains are best. You can purchase cannabis oil in capsules to make it easier to swallow and remember dosing. If capsules are not available in your area, you can also purchase preloaded syringe of oil that you squirt into your mouth, or take cannabis tincture drops that you put under your tongue. If you have sleep issues, eating an edible (brownie, candy, etc) infused with high-CBD cannabis at night can help.

Cannabis topicals, in the form of creams or lotions you put on your skin, can help with joint pain and swelling during the day.

A new way to get cannabis into your body is via a transdermal patch, similar to the birth control patch or the nicotine patch. This discrete method provides extended release medication for up to ten hours and is perfect for people who feel uncomfortable with other methods such as smoking cannabis.

Juicing raw cannabis may reduce pain and inflammation associated with lupus, without that high you get from heated cannabis. That’s because raw cannabis has THCA and CBDA, the non-psychoative forms of THC and CBD. Juice strains of cannabis with high levels of CBD(A) for best results.

What Strains Are Best For Patients with Lupus?

Strains with high levels of CBD are optimal for lupus. These include Cannatonic, which has close to  1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, and Sour Tsunami.

Let’s Make This Easy

  1. Use cannabis cream on your achy joints during the day. Don’t worry, it won’t get you high.
  2. Vape high-CBD cannabis whenever you need pain or other symptom relief. Be safe and don’t drive immediately after using your vaporizer, you could get a chemical DUI in most states.
  3. Eat an edible at night to help you sleep and relieve pain and inflammation. If you eat it during the day you won’t be able to drive or work.
  4. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where raw cannabis juice is available, drink it as often as you can afford to buy it.

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Testimonials

Has cannabis helped your lupus? We’d love to feature patients with a picture and quote from you, and perhaps even a full interview. Please contact us at info@theimpactnetwork.org if you’d like to be featured.

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References

Lupus Foundation of America: What is Lupus?

Cannabinoid receptor activation leads to massive mobilization of myeloid-derived suppressor cells with potent immunosuppressive properties. Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M, Nagarkatti PS. European Journal of Immunology (2010).

What Works for you? Comment below:

Michele Ross, PhD

Michele Ross, PhD

Dr. Ross is CEO & founder of IMPACT Network. As a neuroscientist and cannabis patient, she lectures across the country on the benefits of medical marijuana.
Michele Ross, PhD

Written by Michele Ross, PhD

Dr. Ross is CEO & founder of IMPACT Network. As a neuroscientist and cannabis patient, she lectures across the country on the benefits of medical marijuana.

  • Trisha Lucille Dummitt Fleming

    I like this i wish I could be on it for my Lupus

    • Hi Trisha, are you able to get CBD products shipped to you?

    • Michelle Jardine

      Don’t say “my lupus” don’t own it make it its own thing. I have been diagnosed since 1999 and am just now learning about psychology of disease and how what I say and think makes it worse or better. Good luck! And I want to try the medical marj also for the Lupus

  • Bryan Peralta

    i have a friend that has lupus and i want to help out, how do i get products such as the cream?

    • it depends on if you live in a medical marijuana state or not. Where do you live?

  • Camilla

    Hey. Can you help ? My husbond has lupus. I have multiple sclerosis.

  • Heather Hammon

    I have been on Chloroquine for 2 years now and it help me greatly. I had very few flares and my Lupus was mostly under control. They stopped providing Chloroquine to the US and since then my Lupus has been awful. I am swollen, I hurt and the weird sympton is that my lungs have inflammation but so does my nose and throat. It has been awful! Please tell me what I need to do to try the CBD oil. I live in Illinois where it is legal.

    • Thank you for contacting the Endocannabinoid Deficiency
      Foundation. We currently have a high amount of patient inquiries into cannabis
      treatment and we are answering them in the order received. For a faster
      consultation and a treatment plan customized to your needs, we offer phone or
      Skype consultations for a fee of $75 for 30 minutes:
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  • Jennifer Smith

    I live in a state without medicinal Marijuana. Is it legal to have oil or anything else shipped to me to try this. I’m currently on a list of medications and methotrexate injections weekly that I hate. I’m desperate for another option.

    • you can only have CBD products (made from hemp, not cannabis) shipped to you. You can also eat foods or supplements that boost your body’s natural endocannabinoid system, which I describe in my new book: http://www.drmicheleross.com/book

    • Quinton Mark Price

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  • Rosie Bahena

    Hi I have been diagnosed with lupus since 2009.I have since had multiple flare ups; ones worse than others. I am currently going thru one really bad one right now that started at the end of July. The lupus is attacking my kidney function and I am putting out excessive amounts of protein which is causing me to retain fluids. I have been on diuretics since then because its the only way to maintain fluid levels under control. I am also taking cytoxin -chemo pills daily. I have been in the ER 4 times within the last 2 months for fluid in my lungs, chest pain, abdominal pain, low sodium levels, cramps and high blood pressure. Among the common lupus symptoms my joint pain was unbearable like it did a couple years ago. A friend of mine from work who has a different illness heard me complain about joint and arthritis pain and made a crazy recommendation to me at that time. She said she would rub alcohol with marijuana on her joints to help with pain. I was very skeptical as I was raised strict catholic and was taught say no to drugs. But after seeing over counter meds didn’t help and pain making my bones feel like they would break in half I decided to try it. I asked her to get me buy some marijuana and I placed it in a bottle of alcohol. I left it to dissolve until it turned dark green which took about 24 hours. Once I started to feel joint pain returning my husband rubbed it all over my legs and hands. To my disbelief within couple of minutes my pain began to ease and slowly diminish. I was shocked and amazed at the great results. Now I am curious to see what other benefits can be hidden in this powerful plant to ease pain and symlptoms of lupus. I would love to obtain more information on how I can purchase creams or butter or oils. I live in Texas so marijuana for medical use is ilegal.

  • Lupus is Lyme disease.

    • anonymous

      No, it’s not

  • Dustin Bruce

    I live in Washington and began smoking marijuana for chronic pain associated to a back injury. I am just learning that I also have lupus which is why my recovery from surgery has been so difficult. I can tell you without the label I have listened to my body for a year now. I have treated myself with my food and canabis and I now know and understand how the strains help. I just recently started on a rick simpson oil (edibles always had very little effect due to digestion issues probably caused by lupus). Recently I learned of the healing properties of the edibles over smoking. Been on rick simpson oil 3 days now. Overall i do feel it provides some relief of symptoms, definitely over a prolonged period of time. Took it at night with some inhaled before bed, some of my best rest in ages.

    • Lisa T

      I have Lupus and Sjogren’s and am looking for a treatment protocol using Rick Simpson Oil. How is it going for you and what/how did you treat yourself? Thanks for your help.

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  • Deborah Coleman

    I started using cannabis September 2014 for chronic fibromyalgia pain. By January I replaced all pharmaceutical drugs and no longer test positive for Lupus. Has anyone else had this experience? Im 56 years old. I literally replaced every pill after 30 years of that garbage.

    • Lisa T

      I have Lupus and Sjogren’s and am looking for a treatment protocol using Rick Simpson Oil. How is it going for you and what/how did you treat yourself? Thanks.

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