Can Cannabis Help Autoimmune Disease Sufferers?

What is an Autoimmune Disorder?

50 million americans suffer from an Autoimmune Disorder and 75% of those who experience them are women. The main factor in all autoimmune diseases is inflammation, but there are many theories to what causes these conditions, ranging from genetic to environmental factors. While experiencing an Autoimmune Disorder, the body attacks itself because the immune system has trouble determining the difference between foreign agents and the bodies internal workings. The damage caused by the body attacking itself can be extremely detrimental and even fatal.

How can Cannabis Help?

A University of South Carolina study revealed novel pathways through which THC can suppress the body’s immune function. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and showed that the suppression of immune response by THC could be a useful treatment to autoimmune disease. THC is able to act as an epigenome, an outside molecule that has the ability to change DNA function, and affect DNA expression in the immune system. THC was able change the critical histones and suppress inflammation in the immune system of the rodents that the study was conducted on. In this study, THC was injected directly into the rodents and was able to substantially alter 13 microRNAs, which regulate the expression of genes. This study showed a large potential for THC to ease the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, and colitis.

Inflammation can be suppressed by activating the cannabinoid receptors, CB2, on immune cells. Though there have not yet been clinical human trials, this study opens up new avenues to investigate as possible treatment options for autoimmune diseases. Though this study only looked at THC, CBD is also known to help the immune system. CBD helps repair the bodies ability to recognize the difference between normal internal body functions and foreign entities, keeping the body from attacking itself.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Cannabis has already shown promise in helping with specific autoimmune diseases. A Hebrew University study showed that lab mice experience a 50% increase in joint health while being treated with CBD, showing promise for alleviating the symptoms rheumatoid arthritis. Another study, published in the journal Rheumatology showed that CB2 receptors are found in exceptionally large amounts in the joint tissue of arthritis patients. Cannabis can be used to reduce inflammation, and pain, by stimulating CB2 receptors found in the joints.

Celiac Disease

Cannabis may also work to help people with Celiac Disease, a severe gluten allergy that causes an autoimmune response. 1 in 141 americans have Celiac Disease, but it often goes undiagnosed. CBD can work on CB2 receptors in the gut and help fight against autoimmune attacks in the digestive system when gluten is consumed.


A survey published by Care By Design showed that 100% of fibromyalgia patients surveyed reported a reduction of pain when using CBD rich cannabis for at least 30 days. A University of Heidelberg study out of Germany showed that when Fibromyalgia patients were given varying doses of THC, and no other pain medication, they all experienced a significant decrease in pain.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Cannabis promotes healthy gut activity and has been historically used to relieve digestive problems. CBD can help reduce inflammation throughout the digestive system and THC may also prove helpful for patients with various Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. A 2011 study from the Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 21 of 30 Crohn’s disease patients found a significant improvement in their symptoms while using medical cannabis.

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