Lyme disease has gained a lot of attention in the media lately. Reality TV star and former model Yolanda Foster has publicly shared her battle with Lyme disease on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills tv show, garnering reactions ranging from theories of delusion to an outpouring of support. Avril Lavigne also shared her journey with Lyme disease with the public, expressing she was bedridden for months and thought she was near death. This May, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger’s daughter, Allie, released a book describing her perilous journey with the disease, which even included being committed to a mental institution because of complications Lyme disease caused, even prior to her diagnosis. Yet behind all of the buzz and big names, there are many people who suffer from Lyme disease across the world and cannabis could be a helpful component in their journey towards getting healthy.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease according to the Center for Disease Control. Roughly 329,000 new patients are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the United States each year, compared to only 50,000 new cases of HIV/AIDs. Lyme disease has been found in all 50 states and more than 65 countries in the world, making it a global issue. Lyme disease is controversial, the CDC claims that all cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 30 day regime of antibiotics, but that track of treatment has left many sufferers with severe relapses in symptoms, especially if they went preliminarily undiagnosed for a long period of time. Since many patients do not find a tick on themselves, or the rash traditionally associated with Lyme disease, and the current mainstream tests miss up to 60% of cases, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue, lupus, or other similar conditions.
Symptoms for Lyme disease can vary greatly based on the person affected. The tell-tale symptoms, however, include flu-like symptoms, migraines, joint pain, and neurological problems. Many patients also experience gastrointestinal problems, severe fatigue, and inflammation throughout the body. Lyme disease can be tricky to target if the bacteria has been in the patient a long time without recognition. Some patients end up needing months to years of IV antibiotics and a regime of herbal supplements to rebuild the bodies immune function.
How Can Cannabis Help?
Dr. Ernie Murakami of British Colombia’s Center for Lyme Research believes that CBD could greatly help Lyme patients. Dr. Murakami has found success while using CBD against live spirochetes, a type of bacteria, and believes it has potential for helping kill Lyme bacteria. After Dr. Murakami presented his findings in October of 2014, a university in the United States has picked up the research and is investigating into these ideas further.
A new book released in 2015 provided a wealth of knowledge, and anecdotal evidence, on how marijuana could help patients with Lyme disease. Shelley M. White wrote 'Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions' after her battle with Lyme disease. White personally used cannabis during her treatment process and said that, “Cannabis oil greatly reduced the severity of my symptom picture and improved my quality of life while going through Lyme treatment,”. The book also includes first hand accounts of other Lyme patients who successfully used cannabis to help them during their treatment.
Many Lyme disease sufferers may be able to find an improved quality of life during their treatment by using cannabis. Many of Lyme diseases’ primary symptoms can be aided by the use of cannabis. Many Lyme suffers experience severe chronic pain throughout their body, primarily in joints. Cannabis is known to reduce pain, working on the cannabinoid receptors in the body to reduce inflammation. Many Lyme patients also have problems with their digestion, either due to the Lyme disease itself or all of the antibiotics needed during the treatment process. Cannabis has long been used to help patients with gastrointestinal problems and can also stimulate appetite in patients who have trouble eating. It is believed that Lyme patients may also experience some problems similar to autoimmune diseases, where the body has trouble differentiating between the foreign invaders, in this case Lyme bacteria, and its own internal workings. It is believed that CBD can help improve the immune system, allowing the body to better recognize between foreign entities and itself.
Cannabis could be a useful support for patients getting treatment for Lyme disease. Though there are currently very few studies that look at the connection between Lyme disease and medical marijuana, the anecdotal evidence is very positive. Many of the individual symptoms of Lyme have also been successfully eased by cannabis. Medical marijuana may be just the boost that Lyme patients need to help them work to conquer the disease.