CBD Oil For Autoimmune Diseases

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Are you looking for hemp-derived CBD products that may help with autoimmune diseases? Here are some of the best CBD oils to improve your quality of life. While advancements in science have enabled a greater understanding of our health, getting to the root cause of a chronic disease can be challenging. Autoimmune conditions are an area of medicine that remain largely misunderstood. Presently, there are more than 80 registered autoimmune disorders, affecting various parts of the body. More conditions may also turn out to be

Compare the best CBD Oil for Autoimmune Diseases in 2022

Each bottle of the 750mg CBD oil tincture contains 25mg of CBD per dropper full. The oil is peppermint flavor to mask any unpleasant tastes related to CBD.

2. NuLeaf Naturals 900mg Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil
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No other flavors

Approximately 300 drops total

Overview

Natural remedy for various illnesses. NuLeaf Naturals’ CBD oil is a whole-plant extract containing a full spectrum of naturally occurring synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes.

3. Spruce 2400mg Lab Grade CBD Oil
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No artificial flavoring or colors

No THC-free option

Made from 100% organic and natural ingredients

Overview

The largest bottle of CBD oil that Spruce offers contains 2,400mg of CBD. This is full-spectrum CBD oil, which is the maximum possible potency. Each high potency dropper full contains 80mg of CBD. There are no flavorings in it, which allows for the most CBD to fit in the 30ml bottle.

4. Avida Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture 500mg
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Light Spearmint flavor

No other flavor

Non-THC, Non-detected in drug test

Overview

Avida Extracts Full Spectrum CBD oil is the latest iteration of the brand’s advanced Avida CORE Spectrum technology. They use a proprietary full spectrum blend, resulting in the highest naturally occurring Phyto-cannabinoids and Terpenes with THC (<0.3) to support your health.

5. cbdMD CBD Oil Tincture Natural 1500mg
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Various delicious flavors to choose from

cbdMD uses MCT as its carrier oil so individuals who are allergic with coconuts should consider other brand options

Has vegan, organic, and gluten-free ingredients

Free shipping for this particular product within USA

World-class customer service team

Overview

cbdMD’s CBD oil tinctures are made using only CBD sourced from medical hemp and MCT oil as a carrier oil. Tinctures are offered in orange, mint, natural, and berry flavors. Safe for daily use, the oil tinctures are packaged with a built-in rubber dropper to adjust CBD dosage easily. The packaging is made to be easy to transport and discreet to use.

6. CBDistillery THC Free CBD Oil Tinctures
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60-Day Satisfaction Guarantee

Dropper is a bit shaky

Oil extracted from aerial plant parts of US grown industrial hemp

Sourced from non-GMO industrial hemp grown in the USA through natural farming practices

Overview

CBDistillery’s Isolate CBD Oil Tinctures harness the power of pure CBD. CBD Isolate Oil Tinctures include 0.0% THC. When you use CBDistillery CBD Isolate Oil Tinctures, you can be assured you’re using the highest quality CBD on the market.

7. NuLeaf Naturals 300mg Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil
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No other flavors

A bit pricey compared to competitors

Approximately 100 drops total

Overview

This is one of several concentrations from NuLeaf Naturals. As the lowest concentration, it is the company’s best option for those new to CBD oil. The product is lab-tested and fully organic. It is full-spectrum, so it contains THC in small quantities.

8. cbdMD CBD Oil Tincture Natural 750mg
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Vegan and Gluten free

Does not ship internationally

Has a third-party lab test

Wide variety of CBD strengths and sizes

Overview

A 750mg bottle of cbdMD’s Broad Spectrum Oil Tincture does not contain THC. It also has a fairly wide flavor range which is perfect for those who prefer other taste. Vegan consumers are considered since cbdMD offers Vegan products. Aside from all of that, another reason why people love cbdMD is because it’s free from harmful chemicals.

9. Hemp Bombs 750mg CBD Oil
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Wide variety of flavors

Incomplete information about the product

Lab test results are complete

Does not ship to all international countries

30-day money-back guarantee

Overview

Hemp Bombs offer CBD Oil Tinctures that come in a 30ml bottle containing 750mg of CBD. They provide a wide range of flavors perfect for those that have a knack for sweets. Consumers can safely intake this because it’s free of chemicals and pesticides. Hemp Bombs also offer a 20% off on products upon subscription.

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How CBD Helps With Autoimmune Diseases

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a plant-derived cannabinoid . CBD has a structural similarity to tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), the primary psychotropic substance in cannabis . THC is responsible for the euphoric high people experience after using marijuana (1) .

Meanwhile, cannabidiol is non-psychoactive and bicyclic, comprising two fused rings in the molecule structure. CBD contains an aromatic ring and terpene , a fragrant compound found in plants (2) .

Moreover, CBD produces biological effects in the central nervous system (CNS). Although the chemical is active in the CNS, it does not create a euphoric effect, unlike THC (3) .

Based on a 2020 review published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, CBD contains anti-inflammatory properties . It is also immune suppressive ( 4) .

A person’s immunity is maintained through numerous cell types, such as myeloid cells, acting together to protect against foreign substances (5) .

Myeloid cells or blood cells comprise the innate immune system , which destroys pathogens or organisms that cause various diseases (6) .

The human immune system is made up of two parts: innate and adaptive (7) .

The purpose of the innate response is to prevent the spread of pathogens throughout your body. It is your body’s first line of defense against germs, whereas the adaptive response explicitly targets the germs that cause the infection (8) .

In an event where there is an insufficient innate reaction, some innate cells can activate the adaptive immune response, composed of T and B cells (9) .

T cells are white blood cells that stimulate B cells. Meanwhile, B cells fight viruses and bacteria by producing antibodies that neutralize pathogens (10) .

According to the researchers, the effect of cannabidiol on immune response can involve innate or adaptive responses. Research authors Nichols and Kaplan suggested CBD may cure autoimmune diseases by directly suppressing various resistant cell types (11) .

Autoimmune diseases occur when your body fails to differentiate your cells from foreign cells. Thus, your immune system mistakenly attacks your healthy tissues (12) .

The endocannabinoid system ( ECS ) plays a vital part in the central nervous system development and the response to endogenous and environmental insults (13) .

The ECS is composed of cannabinoid receptors , namely, CB1 and CB2. Both receptors are found throughout the CNS , in the immune system, and other body organs (14 ) .

The ECS has its chemical messengers called endocannabinoids that interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors (15) .

CB1 receptors have a significant role in motor regulation, memory processing, appetite, mood, sleep, and pain sensation. Meanwhile, CB2 receptors , when activated, stimulate a response that fights inflammation (16) .

CBD indirectly interacts with your ECS , signaling it to produce more of its natural cannabinoids . In addition, it inhibits the enzyme that breaks it down.

This reaction results in more endocannabinoids circulating in your body for a longer duration (17) . Your body uses these endocannabinoids efficiently and returns to homeostasis ( 18 ) .

Homeostasis is your body’s capacity to maintain the stability of different variables, such as water level, acidity, and temperature, in the event of constant environmental disturbance (19) .

Although the existing research on CBD for autoimmune diseases is promising, longitudinal clinical studies are needed to determine CBD’s effectiveness in dealing with autoimmune conditions .

Benefits of Using CBD for Autoimmune Diseases

CBD’s neuroprotective and immunosuppressive mechanisms make it an ideal therapeutic candidate for multiple sclerosis (MS) (20) .

MS is a neurodegenerative autoimmune condition of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system attacks its tissues (21) .

Multiple sclerosis affects 2.5 million people globally. Usually, the age of onset is 30 years old, and symptoms differ for each individual with the condition , depending on the lesion locations within the CNS (22) .

Animal models of MS often used in a laboratory environment to study multiple sclerosis are Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) and the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model (23 ) .

Research from the British Journal of Pharmacology successfully demonstrated that a 5mg/kg i.p. ( intraperitoneal injection) of CBD administered at the onset of the disease may help the activation of microglia, the resident immune cells of the CNS (24) .

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Intraperitoneal injection is the injection of a substance into the body cavity.

Results also showed that CBD administration may attenuate the T cell infiltration into the CNS using the EAE (25 ) .

On the other hand, cannabidiol showed similar effects in the TMEV model in a study from the journal of Neurobiology of Disease (26) .

The researchers demonstrated that 5mg/kg i.p. of CBD administered for the first ten days following the start of the disease may reduce neuroinflammation and clinical condition. They also hypothesized that CBD may help decrease immune cell trafficking signals in the CNS and microglial activation (27 ) .

Despite the promising results of these studies, it is still unclear if the successful outcome with CBD in the animal models of MS can also be observed in MS patients and those with an autoimmune disease .

CBD at 20mg/kg was also administered to patients with Crohn’s disease , an inflammatory bowel disease. The researchers stated that, while CBD was safe to use, the compound did not improve or worsen the condition (28) .

C annabidiol may reduce intestinal inflammation in other models of human inflammatory bowel disease (29) .

However, further investigation is warranted to determine CBD’s effect on autoimmune diseases .

How Long After Taking CBD Will It Start to Help With an Autoimmune Disease?

Inhaling cannabidiol using vape pens is the fastest method of ingestion to benefit from the effects of CBD (30) . However, vaping may be detrimental to the lungs (31) .

On the other hand, the second quickest way to absorb CBD is through sublingual administration. Taking the compound under the tongue ensures its prompt delivery into the system ( 32 ) .

Research from the Journal of Young Pharmacists stated that fast-dissolving oral films are a popular choice among people taking medical substances .

These films are easy to administer. More importantly, the sudden onset of drug action is possible since they are taken through the sublingual route ( 33) .

B etter compliance from individuals with the condition is also expected when the sublingual method is used.

Taking a sublingual tablet does not require swallowing since it works much faster when absorbed through the lining of the mouth. This method may benefit those people with dysphagia or individuals with swallowing difficulties (34) .

You may use droppers to dispense CBD oil or tinctures straight into your mouth. It commonly takes about 15 to 30 minutes for the compound to take effect (35 ) .

Meanwhile, CBD edibles, such as gummies and capsules, may take longer to work, with some individuals feeling their effects 30 minutes or more after intake (36) .

You may also consider topical CBD products like CBD creams and lotions for your skin.

However, with topicals, you only target specific areas of the body or system. CBD may not take effect quickly because the compound does not reach the bloodstream.

Still, these characteristics make them safer, considering the lack of information on cannabidiol ’s long-term safety (37 ) .

After CBD Starts to Help, How Long Will It Last?

Ingestion methods have varying rates of bioavailability, or the extent a substance or a drug becomes available to its biological destination. In other words, bioavailability is a measure of the rate and fraction of a drug’s initial dose (38) .

A study published in Frontiers Pharmacology reviewed the discrepancy in the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol . It also examined the lack of data regarding CBD despite its widespread use in humans ( 39) .

A systematic search was done to retrieve all articles about pharmacokinetic data of CBD in humans. Out of the 792 retrieved articles, 24 included pharmacokinetic parameters in humans ( 40 ) .

Pharmacokinetics involves the time course of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (41) .

Results showed that the half-life of CBD is between 1.4 and 10.9 hours after oromucosal spray, two to five days after chronic oral administration, 24 hours after intravenous medications, and 31 hours after smoking ( 42) .

Half-life refers to the time it takes for a drug in the system to be reduced by 50%. After one half-life, a compound’s concentration in the body becomes half of the starting dose.

Results showed that CBD bioavailability after smoking is 31%. However, no other studies have attempted to report the absolute bioavailability of CBD following different routes in humans, despite intravenous formulations being available (43) .

The analysis of properties, such as bioavailability and half-life is critical to future therapeutic success. Robust data from various formulations are required.

Risks and Side Effects of CBD for Autoimmune Diseases

Although studies showed that cannabidiol is relatively safe to consume (44) , there is no evidence linking CBD to specific autoimmune disease medication.

Thus, further studies are needed to determine CBD’s effectiveness on the entire body over long-term consumption.

Below are common side effects of CBD ( 45) :

  • Changes in alertness, such as drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Gastrointestinal distress, such as decreased appetite and diarrhea
  • Changes in mood, such as irritability and agitation

How to Take CBD for Autoimmune Diseases

For autoimmune disorders , you may take CBD oil in consumable forms, such as brownies, gummies , and soft gel capsules.

For a controlled CBD intake, you may choose sublingual administration instead. In this method, you may use a calibrated dropper usually included in CBD tincture products.

Begin by applying a few oil drops under your tongue and leave the oil for a few seconds before swallowing for better absorption.

Some CBD brands also sell CBD topical products. CBD topicals may be in the form of cream, lotion, or transdermal patches.

Research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that transdermal delivery is utilized to produce clinical effects, such as anti-inflammatory activity and local anesthesia, deep within or beneath the skin (46) .

Transdermal drug delivery offers compelling opportunities to address the low bioavailability of several oral drugs and the inconvenience and pain of injections (47) .

A transdermal system is non-invasive, allowing users to self-administer. In addition, transdermal patches may also improve an individual’s compliance.

Since the method is generally inexpensive (48) , it may also be beneficial for those with a limited budget.

Administering topical CBD may be useful for autoimmune conditions that affect the skin. According to a 2021 study , atopic dermatitis (eczema), a chronic skin disorder, is associated with one or more autoimmune diseases (49) .

In addition, a 2018 study showed that CBD exhibited anti-inflammatory properties in an experimental allergic contact dermatitis mode l (50) . Therefore, topical administration of cannabidiol may benefit those with eczema.

Another method of CBD ingestion is vaping . However, note that CBD vapes may worsen lung disorders (51) . When using CBD for the first time, make sure to consult with a licensed physician with a background in cannabidiol use.

Usage Guide

It is crucial to select high-quality CBD products to ensure overall wellness and optimal effectiveness. However, with many brands promising the best CBD products to their customers, you may find it challenging to decide which product to choose.

When choosing the best CBD oil for autoimmune disease , here are some things you need to consider:

  1. Read the ingredient list of the CBD product carefully. If possible, choose organic types or non-genetically modified (non-GMO) ingredients.
  2. Support CBD brands that are transparent about their farming practices. Visit their website and check if it includes information about CBD extraction and testing methods.
  3. Ensure that your CBD products come with certificates of analysis (COAs) and lab test results from third-party laboratories.

A third-party lab test is essential to determine the presence of harmful contaminants, such as residual solvents and pesticides . CBD products must be tested to ascertain their consistency and potency.

CBD Dosage for Autoimmune Disease

There have been no approved U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) guidelines for CBD dosing specifically for autoimmune diseases .

However, cannabidiol dosage in most clinical studies ranges from 100mg to 800mg ( 52) . If you cannot tolerate 100mg, you may start with a lower amount unless your healthcare provider recommends a specific dosage .

It is highly recommended to speak with a physician experienced in cannabis use before trying CBD oil for autoimmune disease .

Legality of CBD

About 36 states in the United States have legalized medical marijuana. The remaining 14 states have ratified laws permitting the use of CBD extract (53) .

You may travel with CBD but only between states with similar regulations for cannabidiol use.

The U.S. Congress approved the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing industrial hemp and products obtained from the hemp plant (54) .

According to the FDA, the redefinition of hemp made it distinct from cannabis plants under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) ( 55) .

The CSA issues the legal basis for the U.S. government’s “war on drugs,” a consolidated law on manufacturing and distributing drugs of all kinds (56) .

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The Controlled Substance Act or the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 created a drug schedule to classify substances into five categories based on the medical use and potential for drug dependence (57) .

Although numerous states have legalized recreational and medical marijuana , marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug (58) .

However, since hemp is now distinct from marijuana, the change may streamline the process for researchers to study cannabis derivatives that have no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight ( 59 ) .

Cannabis derivatives, including cannabinoids , such as CBD, may advance the development of new drugs from those substances (60) .

Product Frequently
Asked Questions

How can CBD help with autoimmune diseases?

A study in 2020 showed that CBD’s anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties may help with human autoimmunity (61) .

The researchers suggested that the compound may help with autoimmune diseases by directly suppressing different immune cell types (62) .

What evidence or research exists to say that CBD helps with autoimmune diseases?

CBD’s neuroprotective and immunosuppressive properties make it an ideal therapeutic candidate for multiple sclerosis , an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (63) .

Is there evidence that CBD can make autoimmune diseases worse?

There is no direct link between CBD and worsening autoimmune diseases . However, using cannabidiol may induce side effects , such as drowsiness, diarrhea, and irritability ( 64) .

Will CBD interact with any current medication I may be taking for autoimmune diseases?

There is no evidence of cannabidiol interacting with a particular autoimmune disease medication. However, there are risks of CBD interacting with other medicines, leading to possible adverse side effects (65) .

Are there other treatments I should consider alongside CBD to help with autoimmune diseases?

You may use CBD topicals, like creams and lotions, alongside massage therapy to relieve chronic pain triggered by autoimmune diseases .

In 2017, a review in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice noted the benefits of massage on pain when used for autoimmune diseases , such as (66) :

  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes
  • Dermatitis
  • Multiple sclerosis

However, there is a lack of research and clinical trials on massage therapy and autoimmune conditions .

Meanwhile, a study showed that cannabinoids , such as CBD, may be used to manage difficult to treat pain (67) . CBD may help bring about pain relief or alleviate chronic inflammation .

Still, it is best to consult your healthcare provider to avoid a potential reaction, especially if you plan to take CBD or hemp oil with any anti-inflammatory drugs and supplements.

Can I fail a drug test if I use CBD for autoimmune diseases?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive and non-intoxicating drug. However, high doses and frequent intake of CBD may result in a positive drug test.

What is the dosage for autoimmune diseases?

There are no official dosage guidelines for CBD. CBD as a medication has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The general rule is to go slow and start low. You may begin with a low CBD potency, gradually increasing the dosage until you get the desired effects.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that dosages in most clinical research studies usually range between 100 and 800mg of CBD daily (68) .

How much CBD should I take?

If you are a first-time user and think you cannot tolerate the standard CBD dosage, you may opt for a microdose.

The recommended microdose for cannabidiol is 500mg CBD oil . Note that one drop of 500mg CBD oil contains approximately 2mg of CBD (69) .

How do I choose the best CBD oil for autoimmune diseases?

You may choose CBD isolate , broad-spectrum , or full-spectrum CBD oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the natural elements of Cannabis sativa plants. Meanwhile, CBD isolate is the pure form of cannabidiol (70) .

Make sure to consult with a physician expert in cannabis use before trying any CBD product.

Also, check a brand’s website and see if there is any product disclaimer . CBD brands need to be transparent with their consumers.

A third-party lab tests all products to determine whether they contain any heavy metals or residual solvents.

Molecular Mimicry: The Role of Cannabis in Healing Autoimmune Disease

Sarah Russo is a writer, cannabis consultant, and a social media and content manager. She got her degree in environmental studies and social justice, with a focus in plant medicine from the Evergreen State College. She has previously worked for Project CBD and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. She has also acted as an herbal medicine educator in natural remedy apothecary shops. Some of her main goals are diversifying the cannabis movement by integrating the plant into the greater herbal medicine compendium as well as encouraging sustainable agricultural practices.

While advancements in science have enabled a greater understanding of our health, getting to the root cause of a chronic disease can be challenging. Autoimmune conditions are an area of medicine that remain largely misunderstood. Presently, there are more than 80 registered autoimmune disorders, affecting various parts of the body. More conditions may also turn out to be autoimmune related.

Autoimmunity (AI) is an “attack on self”, where the immune system gets triggered and thinks that the body’s healthy tissues are invaders. Our immune system is mediated by beta cells which produce antibodies to foreign invaders. Beta cells produce antibodies to prevent infection or fend off bacterial and viral pathogens. T-cells are in charge of cell-mediated immunity are derived from the thymus and other immune tissues. They attack foreign invaders in the body. In an autoimmune response, T-cells take action as if the body’s own cells were foreign in order to bring the body back into homeostasis. This self-attack is known as “molecular mimicry” and is the root of any autoimmune disease.

The location of the autoimmune attack will vary based on the condition. For example, if there is autoimmunity in the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may result. If molecular mimicry occurs in the thyroid, it may lead to Hashimoto’s. For skin disorders like psoriasis, the dermal layer is the target. Autoimmune conditions may attack more than one part of the body at the same time. Lupus can manifest in the skin, digestive system, joints, and the brain.

The reason why the self-attack switch is turned on is relatively unknown. Common consensus is that those with autoimmunity have a genetic predisposition for these types of conditions. Then a particular event like an infection, parasite, leaky gut syndrome, or a traumatic experience sets off the autoimmune reaction.

The triangle of autoimmune triggers. Gut dysbiosis and genetic and environmental factors play mayor roles in the development of autoimmune diseases.

AI can remain latent in the body, resulting in ailments that have not been properly pinpointed. Autoimmune related situations can linger in the body unexposed for many years, which can result in digestive complaints and various associated problems. Frequently, autoimmune diseases are misdiagnosed because their symptoms can mimic other ailments.

There has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of autoimmune diseases since World War 2. Autoimmune conditions more commonly affect women than men. The National Institute of Health estimates that 23.5 million people in the USA have an autoimmune disease, while cancer affects 13 million in the country. The true number of those affected by autoimmunity is likely higher, due to misdiagnosis and general lack of understanding about the complexity of AI related conditions.

Conventional medicine ideology believes that the immune system cannot be controlled and once the autoimmunity switch has been triggered, it is impossible to revert back to the body’s normal state. However, many alternative medical professionals feel that autoimmune conditions may be reversed or greatly resolved. In typical treatment protocols, patients are not given information about dietary changes and are generally told that pharmaceutical medications are required to get better.

Conventional treatments for autoimmune disorders

Currently, prescription medication for autoimmune diseases aim to “turn off” the immune system all together. Immunosuppressive drugs are synthetically created antibodies which attack the autoimmune antibodies. Immunosuppressive drugs can create many potential side effects. These medications may make someone more susceptible to infection, and may lead to the development of cancer. According to Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a cannabis friendly doctor in Southern California, many patients who try immunosuppressive medications end up discontinuing them due to unfavorable side effects. In her experience, patients seek holistic treatment options for autoimmune diseases.

Steroids are a commonly prescribed medication for autoimmunity to lower inflammation and suppress the immune system. They are meant to be taken on the short term. Julie Holland, a pro-cannabis psychiatrist based in New York, says that the goal shouldn’t be to be globally immunosuppressed, “With steroids, you are sweeping the dirt under the carpet. You’re not getting to the root cause at all. It’s as if you’re hitting mute on the alarm, but the alarm is going off for a reason.” Steroids may decrease blood supply to various parts of the body, and create fat deposits in the face or other areas. If someone has autoimmunity and chronic pain, steroids may not help address the root of the discomfort.

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In general, immunosuppressive therapy is incredibly expensive and not always effective. The aim should be to modulate the immune system and bring it back into balance, not to turn it off completely.

What options exist for someone with an autoimmune condition if they do not wish to use traditional medications? Holistic approaches for autoimmune conditions are to decrease inflammation, repair the digestive tract, and regulate the immune system. This includes getting rid of stressors and sensitivities on the broad spectrum, including environmental, food, chemical, and others. Managing autoimmune disease requires dietary and lifestyle changes, which have been reported to help reverse these conditions.

Someone with an autoimmune disease may consider cannabinoid therapies for their ability to decrease inflammation, modulate the immune system, and help to bring the system back into balance.

Immune system modulation

The immune system is a delicate balancing act and deeper investigation is needed to better understand the mechanisms of how it works. Herbs and foods that work to modulate the immune system are ideal for someone dealing with an autoimmune condition. Cannabis therapy and dietary changes seem to be safer, cheaper, and possibly more effective for combating autoimmune conditions than pharmaceutical medications.

Cannabis and other adaptogenic herbs are known to be immune modulating. They act as a regulating tool: they can bring an over or under-reacting immune system back into balance. However, the difference between “immune modulating” and “immune boosting” can be tricky to decipher. It is generally felt that someone with autoimmunity would not want to take anything which boosts the immune system, but this is a point of contention among practitioners.

According to Kevin Spelman, faculty member in Botanical Medicine at National University of Natural Medicine, the definition of immune modulatory is the biphasic effect of an herbal medicine. “Immunomodulatory herbs offer a very beneficial strategy to treat autoimmune conditions. The category of immunomodulation rests on biphasic activity. If someone’s immune response is overly vigilant, there would be a down regulation of immune response. If someone’s immune response is ‘deficient’ there would be an increase of immune activity.” Spelman explained that a patient’s therapeutic response is dependent on how their individual molecular environment is behaving.

Cannabis is a unique biphasic botanical remedy that can bring the system back into balance in numerous regards. Based on current research, cannabis therapies may provide benefit for autoimmune disease in three basic ways: modulation of the immune system, decreasing general inflammation, and helping to assist the digestive system. Cannabis medicine may also treat symptoms of specific autoimmune diseases like ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, fibromyalgia, Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, and others. The plant may decrease chronic pain, inflammation, and spasms associated with some of these conditions. There have been few specific investigations on cannabinoid treatment for AI, due to federal prohibition on human clinical trials. However, extensive studies in test-tubes and in animals have reported the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabinoids for specific AI conditions like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Investigation has demonstrated that CB2 receptors regulate many complex pathways of the immune system. Preclinical studies show that triggering CB2 receptors can suppress immune response, which can be beneficial for those suffering with AI. CB2 can also inhibit production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enhance anti-inflammatory cytokines, which helps to restore a balanced state. However, there are conflicting reports as research has shown that CB2 activation, under certain conditions, may aggravate inflammation.

There has been some preclinical investigation focusing on the role of particular cannabinoids in AI disease models. CBD has been found to modulate the immune system instead of suppressing it. Cannabidiol also slows down T-cell production and suppresses immune system memory, meaning that CBD could cut down on the likelihood of future autoimmune attacks. CBD has also been found to increase the expression of genes that deal with oxidative stress, which may reduce cell damage from autoimmune attacks. As for THC, this cannabinoid is immunosuppressive only at very high doses. In low doses can be helpful as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Its ability to activate CB2 receptors may down regulate T cell function and decrease the harmful effects of immune cells.

The role of cannabis terpenes for autoimmunity deserve further investigation as well. The terpene beta-caryophyllene, found in certain strains of cannabis and black pepper, is known to decrease inflammation through its ability to stimulate the CB2 receptor. Myrcene, another terpene, also has antiinflammatory properties.

Based on preclinical evidence, cannabinoids may help bring the system back into homeostasis, protect against damage from AI attacks within the body, slow down overactive T-cell production, and prevent the immune system from being triggered.

Decreasing inflammation

Inflammation is the root cause of many illnesses, and autoimmunity is no exception. Extensive research has been performed on the anti-inflammatory properties of THC, CBD, and other cannabis components. If inflammation response is regulated, there will be less likelihood of an autoimmune attack. More investigation is needed to examine the particular role of cannabinoids for autoimmune disorders.

Cannabinoid therapy has the potential to assist those with autoimmune conditions by decreasing systemic inflammation, with little to no side effects. Preclinical evidence has found that cannabinoids can attenuate autoimmune inflammatory response. In an animal model of multiple sclerosis, CBD decreased the gene transcription that promoted inflammation.

Despite a scarcity of specific human based studies, patients with autoimmune disorders have been able to improve their situation by integrating cannabis medicine into their lifestyle. Dr. Bonni Goldstein has seen a number of patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis wean off pharmaceuticals and control their symptoms with cannabis, dietary changes, exercise, and stress reduction. Goldstein gave the example of a young patient with ankylosing spondylitis. Goldstein reported that after two months on cannabis the patient discontinued three of the pharmaceuticals, experienced a significant improvement in her pain symptoms, and was “able to participate in her life again”. Dr. Goldstein encourages patients to try various CBD/THC ratios, and to experiment with raw cannabinoids such as THCA and CBDA. Trial and error is required to find what works best for an individual’s unique situation.

Additional approaches one can take to lower inflammation:

  • A nutrient rich diet: a whole food diet, devoid of processed foods, will naturally decrease inflammation.
  • Exercise: active movement increases circulation of anti-inflammatory cytokines from the skeletal muscles.
  • Sufficient sleep: your body naturally lowers inflammation while you get shut eye.
  • Herbal medicine: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nettle, and various medicinal mushrooms can help decrease inflammation throughout the body.
  • Probiotics & Prebiotics: these supplements promote healthy bacteria in the gut, which lowers inflammation and promotes healthy immune response.

While autoimmunity may be a complex and challenging situation in need of deeper investigation, there are holistic approaches one can take to manage their condition. Coping with an autoimmune disease may feel burdensome, but it can also be an opportunity to get back in touch with your body. Aim to treat it in the best way possible. Nature can be your guide.

Sources

Campbell, Andrew W. “Autoimmunity and the Gut”. Autoimmune Diseases. 2014

Goldstein, Bonni. Entrevista personal. 24 de julio de 2017

Holland, Julie. Entrevista personal. 6 de junio de 2017

Ignatowska-Jankowska B, et all. “Cannabidiol-induced lymphopenia does not involve NKT and NK cells”. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009

Jacob, Aglaée. “Gut Health and Autoimmune Disease — Research Suggests Digestive Abnormalities May Be the Underlying Cause”. Today’s Dietitian. 2013

Kozela, E, et all. “Pathways and gene networks mediating the regulatory effects of cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, in autoimmune T cells” J Neuroinflammation. 2016

Malfait, et al. “The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis”. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2000

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