Updated on January 29, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Lupus is a disease affecting more than a million Americans alone. Each year, more than 10,000 new cases are added to that number.
There’s no cure for this auto-immune disease. As far as treatments go, the best doctors can hope for is to manage symptoms and give patients the best quality of life possible. Medical marijuana has proven itself to be an effective treatment for many of lupus’ side effects. One of the more severe complications patients experience is inflammation.
If you or a loved one struggle with lupus-related inflammation, cannabis could alleviate this symptom.
The side effects of lupus vary from patient to patient. Some only experience mild symptoms due to the disease. Others struggle with life-threatening complications. One of the most severe symptoms lupus patients experience is inflammation to various parts of the body.
Lupus is similar to other autoimmune diseases — the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. This creates inflammation in the:
This inflammation can lead to chronic pain in these areas or even permanent damage.
Some of the treatments used to help with inflammation cause severe side effects of their own. Corticosteroids are a common medication for lupus-related inflammation. However, this can cause bruising, weight gain, osteoporosis, risk of infection, diabetes, skin problems, mood changes, insomnia and high blood pressure.
Medical marijuana treats the key features of lupus — pain and inflammation. It has anti-inflammatory properties without the risk of unpleasant or dangerous side effects. Marijuana reduces a natural protein that causes inflammation called interleukin-2. At the same time, it raises levels of interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory protein.
Since the inflammation caused by lupus is the main cause of pain that patients experience, cannabis effectively targets both symptoms at once. Because of this, many lupus patients have found medical marijuana is a more effective treatment than their prescribed medications.
Strains high in both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have properties that help patients manage both pain and inflammation caused by lupus. The following are commonly used by patients as an anti-inflammatory:
Finding cannabis medication for lupus-related inflammation isn’t an exact science. Patients may find a certain strain that works for another person doesn’t work for them. That’s why it’s important to speak to your marijuana doctor about cannabis recommendations. You can also visit a dispensary to speak to a budtender on staff.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Lupus, check out our resources: