Can Medical Marijuana Fight Lupus Symptoms?

It is estimated that almost 1,500,000
may suffer from
the immune system disorder known as lupus. When afflicted with this
disorder, the immune system becomes over-active and begins to attack
tissue throughout the body, confusing it with bacteria and other foreign
invaders. The result is inflammation, pain, and damage to otherwise
healthy organs and tissue. As more and more cases surface, finding safe
and effective ways to treat this chronic illness is a top priority. One
promising tool may be medical marijuana.

The Facts About Lupus

The most common type of lupus is SLE, or systemic lupus erythematosus. A
2005 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
found a prevalence of 161,000 individuals with diagnosable SLE and
another 322,000 with probable SLE. Cutaneous lupus is another common
form of this illness. Its symptoms include swollen glands and a scaly
red rash on the cheeks and bridge of the nose.

It is unclear why some people develop this condition, but there appears
to be both a genetic and environmental component. Lupus tends to run in
families but is triggered by something in the environment, such as:

  • Sunlight
  • Infection
  • Medicine – There are over 400 medications known to trigger lupus

It is more common in young women between the ages of 15 and
People with lupus suffer flare ups of the disease throughout their life
and can go into remission for long periods.

The symptoms of lupus include:

  • Body aches
  • Focused pain in the hands and wrists
  • Skin rashes that often have a characteristic butterfly shape
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Depression

How Medical Marijuana May Help Calm Lupus

The treatment plan for lupus may include medical grade cannabis along
with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids. A 2014
study published in the Journal of Biological

found that medical marijuana has an immuno-modulatory effect. In other
words, it can help manage the inappropriate immune system responses seen
in lupus and other immune system disorders.

The study looked at the effect of THC, a component in cannabis, on
regulating immune system responses. The immune system has a localized
cannabinoid receptor type 2, or CBD2, that endocannabinoids in medical
marijuana influence. They increase the level of the anti-inflammatory
protein interleukin-10 while decreasing a protein responsible for
inflammation called interleukin-2. The combination of these two
responses to cannabis may help ease the pain lupus suffers know all too

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