The Benefits of Using Cannabis to Treat Lupus
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 09/26/2016 in Medical Marijuana Laws
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 1.5 million Americans suffer from some form of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). While both men and women can suffer from lupus, about 90 percent of all people with lupus are women. Lupus is not a terminal disease, but it is chronic, which means that it can affect an individual for many years or even a lifetime. Most individuals with lupus take conventional medications to help control the symptoms of their illness. However, oftentimes, these conventional medications are not as effective as they should be or lead to severe side effects. Accordingly, many patients with lupus and other diseases and conditions are turning to medical marijuana recommended by cannabis doctors to help manage their disease.
What Is Lupus?
According to Mayo Clinic, lupus refers to a chronic inflammatory disease. This disease occurs when the immune system begins to attack the organs and tissues of the body. This explains why lupus is primarily characterized by inflammation. Depending on the severity of the disease, lupus can cause inflammation of the joints, kidneys, skin, heart, lungs, blood cells, and even the brain. Therefore, lupus is a chronic disease that impacts just about every system in the body.
Since the symptoms and signs of lupus are common to many other ailments, it can be difficult for medical marijuana doctors to diagnose lupus. A facial rash is the most distinctive sign of this disease. In most cases, the facial rash will look like the wings of a butterfly across both cheeks of the patient. This facial rash occurs in many cases of lupus, but not all cases.
It is important to keep in mind that lupus affects different individuals in different ways. Therefore, no two lupus cases are exactly the same. The symptoms and signs of lupus may appear rapidly or develop slowly. These symptoms and signs can be severe or mild. Also, the symptoms and signs of lupus can be permanent or just temporary. Most people who suffer from lupus have the mild form of the disease. Mild lupus is characterized by flares, or episodes, of lupus. When a flare occurs, the symptoms and signs of lupus progressively get worse and then disappear or improve for some time until the next flare.
Some people are more prone to developing lupus than other people. Some possible triggers of lupus include infections, certain medications, and even sunlight. Researchers have not found a cure for lupus. Therefore, the only option for patients with lupus is to take medications to help manage the symptoms.
What Are The Causes of Lupus?
As stated above, lupus is caused by the malfunction of the immune system. Medical cannabis doctors and researchers are not certain about the cause of lupus. However, many researchers and cannabis doctors believe that both genetics and the environment influences the likelihood that an individual will develop lupus. Some people seem to have a genetic predisposition for lupus.
Individuals who are genetically predisposed for lupus may only develop the disease when something in their environment serves as the trigger. For example, sunlight may cause an internal response in people who are susceptible to lupus. Also, sunlight can trigger lupus skin lesions. Having an infection can cause lupus to develop. An infection can also cause flares in people with lupus. Some medical studies have indicated that antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, and blood pressure medications can also trigger lupus. Usually, individuals who have lupus that is drug-induced see their symptoms disappear once they stop taking the medication.
Can Medical Marijuana Treat Lupus?
In the past, there wasn’t much research or data about the effectiveness of medical marijuana when it comes to treating the symptoms and signs of lupus. However, recent breakthroughs in research have supported what many patients with lupus had been saying all along — that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for lupus. Right now, research is focused on confirming whether mutations in genes for endocannabinoid receptors are correlated with lupus. The immune system has CB2, which is the cannabinoid receptor type 2. Therefore, endocannabinoids have a direct impact on the immune system and lupus.
Medical cannabis lowers the levels of interleukin-2, which is a protein that is responsible for promoting inflammation. Also, medical cannabis boosts levels of interleukin-10, which is responsible for decreasing inflammation. Research has also shown that cannabis activates MDSCs, or myeloid-derived suppressor cells. This shows that medical marijuana may be an effective treatment for autoimmune disorders involving inflammation, such as lupus.
Medical marijuana can help relieve inflammation and pain, which are the most main symptoms of lupus. Fortunately, medical cannabis doesn’t come with all the severe side effects that conventional medication often does.
Even though lupus isn’t terminal, this disease is incredibly difficult and debilitating to live with. Fortunately, medical marijuana proves to be an effective treatment for many patients. For more information about cannabis as a potential treatment for lupus, don’t hesitate to contact us.