Autoimmune Disorders and Medical Cannabis
Autoimmune diseases are diseases where your immune system attacks your own body. Usually, the immune system recognizes the difference between foreign invaders (pathogens such as bacteria and viruses), but in the case of autoimmune disorders, they do not. Healthy tissue is attacked by the body’s immune system.
Potential Efficacy / Quality of Evidence (Low, Average, High) of Medical Marijuana for Autoimmune Disorders
Cannabinoids, Terpenes/Terpenoids, Strains and Ratios that May Help
CBD:THC 1:1; high THC may also help for pain. Beta-caryophyllene could help relieve pain and inflammation, too.
Medical Cannabis Pros
Phytocannabinoids may be useful in helping to modulate the immune system, and prevent the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, this factor also make cannabinoids potentially useful for the treatment of cytokine storms and extreme inflammation associated with the recovery stages of COVID-19.
Phytocannabinoids act as mimics of our bodies’ own endocannabinoids, and help regulate the immune system and prevent inflammation.
Medical Cannabis Cons
This depends on the autoimmune disorder being suffered from. THC may increase confusion for some.
For type 1 diabetes, cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) may be useful, but may also cause complications.
More About the Condition(s)
Approximately 8% of Americans have an autoimmune disorder. Due to women’s high-functioning immune system (which makes women more likely to be immune to or survive conditions like COVID-19), they are more likely to suffer from an autoimmune disorder.
There are conditions that can either be autoimmune or not. These include multiple sclerosis (MS) and arthritis, which have both autoimmune and non-autoimmune types. Irritable bowel disorders such as Crohn’s and coeliac disease are autoimmune disorders. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Lupus os where the immune system attacks healthy tissue throughout the body and in particular the skin, lungs and heart. Vitiligo is another autoimmune disorder. Asthma could also be an autoimmune disorder.
Many autoimmune diseases are thought to start from a late infection of the Epstein-Barr Virus, the deficiency of CD8+ T-cells and a predisposition towards a certin autoimmune conditon on HLA class II genes.
Both genetic and environmental factors have a part to play in autoimmune disorders, although it does seem that there are certain commonalities between them. For example, an abnormality in the same gene can potentially cause either Crohn’s or type 1 diabetes. Sometimes, suffering from one autoimmune condition can increase the likelihood of developing another. Those with Lupus are more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis and autoimmune hepatitis.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a huge role in inflammatory responses and immune system regulation. Phytocannabinoids may be of immense use for many different types of autoimmune conditions and help prevent the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Quotes from Experts
“Medical uses of Cannabis sativa have been known for over 6,000 years. Nowadays, cannabis is mostly known for its psychotropic effects and its ability to relieve pain, even though there is evidence of cannabis use for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis centuries ago. The pharmacological therapy in autoimmune diseases is mainly based on immunosuppression of diffefent axes of the immune system while many of the drugs have major side effects. In this review we set out to examine the rule of Cannabis sativa as an immunomodulator and its potential as a new treatment option. In order to examine this subject we will focus on some major autoimmune diseases such as diabetes type I and rheumatoid arthritis.” Source: Katz D, Katz I, Golan A. ‘[MEDICAL CANNABIS – A SOURCE FOR A NEW TREATMENT FOR AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE?].’ Harefuah. 2016 Feb;155(2):74-8, 133. Hebrew. PMID: 27215114.
Case Studies – Patient Stories
Average, depending on autoimmune condition.