Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Caused by the bite of an infected arthropod — usually a deer tick — Lyme disease is a growing concern among many patients in the United States. What starts as a bacterial infection can lead to serious health complications down the road, as the disease can remain in the body for years without a patient feeling its effects.
Lyme disease can impact multiple systems, so it can cause a variety of symptoms. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to diagnose as its side effects resemble many other conditions.
The use of medical marijuana is a type of cannabinoid therapy that provides relief on multiple fronts. This is perfect for Lyme disease patients, as the condition causes many different symptoms, including chronic pain. Cannabis also has antibacterial properties that could be used to treat the condition at its root.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been any focused clinical trials on medical marijuana’s effect on Lyme disease. However, the following case studies show how impactful cannabis medications could be on those with the condition.
Because of the numerous symptoms associated with Lyme disease, it’s thought that this condition causes the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to be thrown off balance. It’s the ECS’s job to provide homeostasis by using its receptors found in almost every major bodily system and naturally produced cannabinoids. However, when disease impacts the body, the ECS can’t do its job properly.
Although this case study didn’t mention Lyme disease, its main focus was to show how treatment-resistant disorders may be caused by endocannabinoid deficiencies. Published in 2004 by the senior medical advisor at GW Pharmaceuticals, Ethan B. Russo, the study researched the possibility of using cannabinoid therapy to treat conditions with similar biochemical and pathophysiological patterns. Russo concluded that further research would help us understand the magnitude of different conditions that could be improved by using cannabinoids in medications.
A 2008 case study published in the Journal of Natural Products explored cannabis’ antibacterial properties. As far back as the 1950s, researchers have sought to harness the naturally occurring antibacterial properties of marijuana. Unfortunately, although it has the potential to be a potent agent that could be used medicinally, extracting these benefits has been elusive.
This study stressed the importance of continued research into the antibacterial potential of cannabis, especially with the increasing appearance of drug-resistant bacteria like MRSA. The creation of new cannabis-based medications could help physicians fight these diseases.
Although this article didn’t talk specifically about Lyme disease, the bacteria that causes the condition is sometimes resistant to traditional antibiotics. The microscopic organism forms a cyst, which protects it against these treatments. Medical marijuana’s antibacterial properties could be the crucial key to eradicating Lyme disease.
Because of the multiple symptoms caused by Lyme disease, patients often get prescribed several different medications. However, medical marijuana can be used to treat many of these, limiting the chemicals being put into patient’s bodies. The condition causes pain which can disrupt sleep and create a mood imbalance.
In 2010, a controlled study performed at McGill University in Montreal found that medical marijuana not only treated chronic pain, but it also improves patients’ sleep and mood. This is just one of many studies that have demonstrated cannabis’ ability to act as a powerful analgesic.
This study did not include patients with Lyme disease — however, individuals with the condition would most definitely benefit from the effects produced by cannabis.
If you or a loved one has Lyme disease, it’s important to consult a physician about a course of treatment. If you’ve had difficulty combatting the disease’s many symptoms, contact a marijuana doctor near you. You may qualify for your state’s medical marijuana program, giving you access to high-quality cannabis treatments.