Life sometimes comes with aches and pains. But when those symptoms are caused by an autoimmune disorder like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, or type 1 diabetes, it can be hard to find relief. The good news is that cannabis has been helping people with these conditions live a higher quality of life. Here’s the latest about what cannabis can do for your immune system and how it can treat autoimmune disease.
What is an Autoimmune Disorder?
Autoimmune disorders are diseases where a person’s immune system attacks their own body. The immune system is designed to target viruses and other pathogens, and it usually can tell the difference between a foreign invader and your own cells. However, when it sees healthy cells as foreign invaders, it launches a war against your body, sending out antibodies to attack healthy tissue like joints, organs, or skin.
Scientists aren’t quite sure why the immune system turns against healthy cells in this way, but inflammation tends to be associated with the phenomena. These diseases can be excruciating and debilitating, causing swelling, redness, heat, and overall dysfunction. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for these types of conditions, and treatments options are limited.
Treating Autoimmune Diseases
The primary treatments are medications that work to reduce inflammation and help calm down the body’s immune response. Some treatments include the use of immunosuppressant drugs which work to suppress the immune system or completely turn it off.
he problem is that these treatments come with a host of unwanted side effects, and turning off the immune system can have negative consequences. We need alternative treatment options, and many are discovering a better quality of life with cannabis.
Cannabis for Autoimmune Disorders
People with autoimmune disorders have been finding success using cannabis for a long time — and pain relief is just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists are beginning to understand that cannabis goes beyond just alleviating symptoms for autoimmune disorders. In fact, cannabis seems to engage directly with immune cells by affecting the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS plays a significant role in regulating immune function. Immune cells have both CB1 and CB2 receptors, and cannabis contains cannabinoids that interact with both of these ECS receptors.
Cannabinoids act like a key that can unlock the door that allows communication between the body and the immune system. When the immune system is in a state of constant overdrive, cannabinoids from cannabis can encourage it to slow down and ease up the fight against healthy cells.
We still need more research to fully understand how cannabis can treat autoimmune disorders, but what we know so far looks promising. A Hebrew University study showed that CBD treated lab mice experienced a 50% improvement in joint health, indicating that people with rheumatoid arthritis could benefit significantly from CBD.
Cannabis and Inflammation
A major characteristic of autoimmune disease is inflammation. Anytime the body is injured or sick, it triggers a reaction that produces inflammation where more cells are sent to speed the healing process. While this response is helpful in the short-term, chronic inflammation from autoimmune diseases causes a lot of pain and discomfort. Cannabis is a potent anti-inflammatory and can work fast to ease chronic inflammation.
The two cannabinoids that are most beneficial to treating autoimmune inflammation are CBD and THC. CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive qualities. THC acts as an anti-inflammatory at low doses, and an immunosuppressive at high doses, helping to calm down an overactive immune response.
The immune system is complicated and can be difficult to treat. With over 80 different varieties of autoimmune disorders, we are only beginning to understand the best way to treat it. What we do know is that the endocannabinoid system plays a big role in immune function, and cannabis can work to bring it back into balance and ease inflammation.
If you want to learn more about how cannabis can help you your inflammation or other conditions, we’d love to help. Schedule a consultation with one of our expert cannabis consultants today.