“One day, I washed my face and brushed the washcloth across my eyelashes. [It] stopped me dead in my tracks. I was too exhausted to scream but it knocked the life out of me so much so that I had to sit on the edge of the tub to regroup,” Harris says. “My eyelashes hurt—I will never forget that.” -Sharon Harris on living with lupus.
Today we’re going to talk about how utilizing CBD for lupus might be able to help provide relief for those suffering from this chronic pain disease.
CBD for Lupus at a glance
What the claims are: CBD can help relieve the symptoms and many of the complications of lupus, including pain and inflammation.
What the studies show: While more studies are needed, research supports the theory that CBD for lupus helps with both pain and inflammation.
What the facts say: Early studies as well as anecdotal evidence appear to support that adopting a CBD regimen is beneficial for many people struggling with lupus.
What exactly is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes your body to treat your its tissues and organs as the enemy and attack them. This can result in inflammation of the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can be tough to diagnose because there is no single test that can determine whether you have it or not, and it can mimic other diseases.
While anyone can get lupus, is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45 and is more common in women, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American people.
The most distinctive sign of lupus is a rash on the face that looks like butterfly wings spreading over both cheeks. But, while it does present in a lot of cases, there are still many people with lupus who don’t develop that symptom. Other common symptoms can include:
- Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
- Skin lesions
- Raynaud’s phenomenon (which causes extremities to turn white or blue when cold or stressed)
- Shortness of breath and chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, confusion and memory loss
The cause of lupus is unknown, but it’s likely a result of a combination of genetics and environment. That said, certain triggers can cause a flare-up and even initiate this disease in those susceptible to it. Such triggers include exposure to the sun, having an infection, and taking certain types of antibiotics, blood pressure or anti-seizure medications. Luckily, people with drug-induced lupus often get better once they discontinue use of the triggering medication.
Having lupus increases your risk of infection as both the disease and its treatments can weaken the immune system. It also appears to increase your risk of cancer, bone tissue death, and pregnancy complications. Oftentimes, doctors will suggest that pregnancy be delayed until the disease has been under control for a six-month period.
How can CBD be used to help with lupus?
CBD for lupus can be a potential help in several different ways. First and foremost, it can work to eliminate the inflammation and pain that are so common during a flare-up of this disease.
Another problem with lupus pain, over and above the discomfort, is that it can make it hard to sleep. CBD might be able to help there too, as it has been shown to regulate sleep patterns.
Lastly, living with lupus, like many other chronic pain diseases, can also be detrimental to a person’s mental health. Early studies have shown that CBD can alleviate anxiety and even help with depression.
Medical studies related to CBD for lupus
While the nature of exactly how CBD works is still fuzzy, we know that our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems play a role in regulating various cognitive and physiological functions. Those functions include our moods and our response to pain sensations. Because CBD (cannabidiol) interacts with our own cannabinoid receptors, it does seem to help alleviate both the pain and inflammation associated with lupus.
Studies have also shown that cannabinoids are “immunomodulators,” which means they help regulate our immune systems. This fact means that CBD for lupus shows potential. Many more, long-term clinical trials need to be done in order to fully understand the potential of this information, but it’s safe to say that CBD for lupus (and other autoimmune diseases) shows great promise.
What are the risks of using CBD for lupus?
The good news is that CBD is known to be safe and well-tolerated by most and, according to a recent study by the World Health Organization, is not associated with abuse potential.
Using CBD for lupus also comes with very few potential side effects, and those that can present are minor. CBD looks especially good in comparison to some of the risks that come along with taking corticosteroids which are often used to help treat inflammation caused by lupus. Those risks can include:
- Hair growth
- A round/moon-shaped face
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Fragile skin
- Suppressed growth in children
- Mood Swings
It’s also important to note that infections are one of the leading causes of death in people with lupus. Long-term steroid use increases your risk of infection, so having a potential alternative could be key for some people battling this disease.
Should I give CBD for lupus a try?
Some people do find that CBD for lupus is only marginally helpful for their lupus symptoms, while others find it to be a life changer. Because lupus presents differently from person to person and flare-ups vary greatly in both severity and frequency, there is no single cure-all that will work the same for everyone. That said, both early scientific research and anecdotal evidence seem to support the benefits of CBD for lupus for many people afflicted with this disease and might be the answer you’re looking for.
As with any change to your healthcare regimen, you should talk to your doctor before trying CBD for lupus. And, if you’re currently taking any prescription medications, you should check with your pharmacist to ensure that CBD won’t interact with any of them in a negative way.
- Emerging Role of the CB2 Cannabinoid Receptor in Immune Regulation and Therapeutic Prospects
- Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs
- The Analgesic Potential of Cannabinoids
- Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes
- Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
- Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System
- Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.
- Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol.
- Mayo Clinic : CBD oil for pain
- Mayo Clinic : Lupus
- Forbes Study: CBD From Marijuana May Affect Pain And Anxiety In Different Ways Than Previously Thought
- Wikipedia : Endocannabinoid system
- 7 People on What It’s Really Like to Have Lupus
- Lupus and depression: Know the signs and how to get help
- Medications used to treat lupus