Can medical marijuana help you cope with lupus? How do you use it to minimize symptoms? This article gives you the details on just how those with this autoimmune disease may benefit from the herb. Featuring inflammation-fighting recipes, strain suggestions and more, here’s how this miraculous plant stacks up in cannabis vs. lupus.
What is lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. For some reason, the immune system fails to tell the difference between healthy human tissue and harmful intruders. The immune system becomes hyperactive and begins attacking its own body. This is quite painful, and can lead to a whole host of related symptoms.
The most common symptoms of the disease include:
- Excessive inflammation
- Mood changes (depression, anxiety)
- Hair loss
- Abnormal heart rate
- Weight loss
Pain and soreness can be felt all over the body. But, it most severely manifests in a few key areas. The most extreme pain is often felt in joints, including the hands, wrists, and knees.
Cannabis vs. lupus: how can it help?
Perhaps the most damaging outcome of lupus is inflammation. Left untreated, inflammation can cause severe health outcomes. Inflammation is one of the key physical factors that leads to Alzheimer’s later in life. It can also lead to tissue scarring, which can cause significant damage to organs, muscles, and tendons over time.
Fortunately, marijuana is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory. Here’s how it works:
Marijuana vs. inflammation
Inflammation is a perfectly normal immune response. When you scrape your knee, a little inflammation in the area is a way to tell that your body is actively working to fight infection and heal the injury. In lupus, however, that inflammatory response is totally out of whack.
Compounds in marijuana dampen that inflammatory response. Cannabinoids in the herb interact with specific cell receptors in the immune system. Most notably the CB-2 receptor, which is thought to modulate inflammatory response (among many other things).
Through this interaction, medical marijuana increases the level of certain anti-inflammatory proteins. Specifically, the interleukin-10 protein. At the same time, it decreases the level of pro-inflammatory protein interleukin-2.
Cannabis interacts with a regulatory network in the body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is thought to maintain homeostasis in the body. It helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, pain, and our immune systems. As the ECS works to maintain bodily balance and harmony, it’s suspected that cannabinoid medicines may be helpful in lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Clinical trials and more research are needed to determine just how compounds in the herb can be used to best treat the disease.
Clinical trials and more research are needed to determine just how compounds in the herb can be used to best treat the disease.
Marijuana vs. pain
Inflammation and pain are closely related. Because marijuana is such a powerful anti-inflammatory, it can drastically decrease the amount of pain you experience. Cannabis can also help relax your muscles and ease both physical and mental fatigue. This will make moving around and performing daily tasks much easier on flare-up days.
Some marijuana strains to try
Different types of marijuana work best for different things. If you’re fighting fatigue, you’ll want to find a nice sativa. If you are in very severe pain and cannot sleep, an indica will do the trick. For general day-to-day relief, high-CBD strains are the best option. If you are interested in cannabis juicing or making smoothies, there are strains designed for that as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Sativas: Super Silver Haze, Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough
- Indicas: Afghan Kush, Granddaddy Purple, Bubba Kush
- High-CBD: Harlequin, One-to-one, Charlotte’s Web
- Dietary Cannabis: ACDC
Dietary cannabis may be particularly beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases. It’s well-known that some with rheumatoid arthritis have been able to eliminate their symptoms by drinking green juice daily. Marijuana fan leaves and fresh buds make for an extremely supercharged green juice. Raw, uncured, and unheated marijuana is non-psychoactive.
You can find detailed information on the benefits of dietary cannabis here.
Many medical patients rely on smoked or vaporized marijuana to find quick relief. This is great when you if you need something that works immediately. But, if you plan on using cannabis as a regular part of your treatment, you might want to consider incorporating some healthy edibles.
The effects of inhaled cannabis wear off fairly quickly in comparison to edibles. Ingested cannabis must be broken down and metabolized by the body. This means that you experience the effects in a much slower, stable, and prolonged way. This is a wonderful option for day-long relief. Here are a few recipes that fight inflammation in multiple ways: via cannabis and potent anti-inflammatory foods.
- Magical Thai Vegan Soup: Containing ginger, a wealth of healing herbs, and some spicy capsaicin, this soup is an anti-inflammatory gold mine. Every ingredient as inflammation reducing properties. Many herbs, like lemon grass, are also known to fight pain.
- Golden Delight: Turmeric may just be one of the healthiest spices out there. This drink contains a lot of it. Turmeric has been used in both traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. It’s developed quite the reputation as an anti-inflammatory. To kick things up a notch, add in a little fresh ginger.
- Kale Salad in Brown Cannabutter Vinaigrette: Kale is a superfood for a reason. It contains a very high level of antioxidants and inflammation-fighting compounds. Studies have shown that incorporating more antioxidants into your diet helps improve the disease status of lupus patients. As a bonus, cannabis is a potent antioxidant, too!
Some other recipes to try:
- Peasant Soup
- Asian Chicken Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette
- Wake-n-Bake Smoothie
- Bhang Ki Masala Chai
- Marijuana Tea
Additional treatment options:
- Cannabis topicals: These balms, lotions, and salves can be applied directly to the joints for immediate pain and inflammation relief in a localized area. They are also non-psychoactive.
- Canna caps: If you’d prefer to take something in a pill form, you can easily make your own marijuana capsules or find them at a nearby dispensary. These are a great way to use the herb discretely.
- Rick Simpson Oil: This is one of the best medical marijuana products out there. A highly concentrated cannabis extract, this is the consumption method of choice by epileptic patients to cancer-fighters alike.
The research is still a way off in figuring out precisely how cannabis might be helpful in treating lupus. Marijuana’s inflammation-fighting properties, however, are very well documented. This plant is a true medicinal herb. It contains large amounts of beneficial cannabinoids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. All of these factors can drastically improve your quality of life with lupus.
Do you use cannabis to cope with an autoimmune disease? How does it work for you? Share your story with us on social media or in the comments below.