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Is CBD Oil for Lupus Safe or Effective?

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Richard N. Fogoros, MD, is a retired professor of medicine and board-certified internal medicine physician and cardiologist.

CBD oil, which is derived from marijuana, has become a trend when it comes to treating diseases involving pain and inflammation. But is it effective for lupus?

So far, we don’t have conclusive evidence that CBD oil can safely treat lupus, but research is currently being conducted to help make this possible.  

Because medical marijuana is still fairly controversial, and the laws are confusing, there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about CBD. That can make people hesitant to try it. Good news though—a new law is simplifying the matter for many of us.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD is short for “cannabidiol.” While it comes from cannabis, it doesn’t get you high because it doesn’t have psychoactive properties. The high comes from a different chemical in the plant called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Marijuana growers focus on strains and techniques that increase THC levels. Cannabis that’s grown for hemp tends to have a lot more CBD than THC.

If you look online, you can find a lot of huge claims about using CBD oil for medicinal purposes. Claims are so glowing, in fact, that you might start to wonder if they can possibly be true. Certainly, when they come from websites that promote marijuana legalization and use, you may be wise to question the veracity.

It’s too early in the research process for us to be able to say “yes” about many of the claims. However, we’re learning enough to be able to say “it’s possible,” or even, “we think so.”

CBD oil is used to treat a host of different conditions, although it’s not approved for any of these conditions, as of mid-2018:  

  • Chronic pain and inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorders, including insomnia and nightmares
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Movement disorders (Huntington’s disease)
  • Assistance with smoking cessation
  • Stopping the growth of cancerous tumors

When it comes to taking CBD oil, you have a lot of options: smoking, taking capsules, drops or sprays under the tongue, and as a topical ointment. Research in the United States is in the early stages,   though, since for decades, legal restrictions made it extremely difficult to study the medical benefits of marijuana.

CBD Oil for Lupus

With a lack of research on CBD oil for lupus, we have to go on what we know about CBD in general and can understand from research into conditions with similar symptoms or pathology. This potential treatment is likely to get attention from lupus researchers eventually, though, for several reasons.

  • Lupus contributes to an epidemic of pain, including untreated and undertreated pain. Current treatments are far from perfect, so drug companies have a sizable financial incentive to find more effective medications.
  • The opioid addiction/overdose epidemic is a huge problem for society and puts a lot of strain on the resources of the medical community as well as law enforcement. Meanwhile, several studies have shown that when marijuana becomes legal in a state, the number of opioid prescriptions—and overdose deaths—drops.   That’s bound to get the attention of doctors who want to protect their patients, law enforcement agencies battling the problem, and lawmakers seeking solutions.
  • A wealth of research suggests that CBD oil is effective against pain and inflammation. In its pure form, it’s generally regarded as safe. Lupus involves considerable inflammation.
  • We have abundant anecdotal evidence from people with lupus who say it’s effective. That can’t substitute for scientific proof, but it’s one more thing that gets doctors interested.

Additionally, a 2018 study published in Cellular Immunology found that CBD may alter T-cell activity after spinal cord injury.   Abnormal activity of T-cells (which are part of the immune system) are believed to be involved in lupus.

Lupus can include pain from neuropathy (nerve damage), and multiple studies suggest that CBD can alleviate that type of pain from diabetes, HIV, and other sources.

CBD Side Effects

We probably don’t yet know all of the possible side effects of CBD. Some side effects that have been reported are:

  • Changes to liver enzymes used to process drugs
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased tremor in Parkinson’s disease (at high doses)

The World Health Organization says CBD oil may also:  

  • Alter hormonal levels
  • Stimulate the immune system at low levels, and suppress it at higher levels

CBD doesn’t appear to lead to addiction or abuse. It’s also believed to have a low toxicity level, which means it takes a lot to cause an overdose.

Is CBD Legal?

You’d think the question of whether CBD is legal would get a straightforward, yes or no answer, but the legality issue can be confusing.

A lot of pro-marijuana websites have long claimed that it’s legal in all 50 states as long as it doesn’t have more than 0.3 percent THC. They based that argument on the provisions of a specific farm bill. But in 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the old bill didn’t apply to hemp or products derived from it.  

Then came the 2018 Farm Bill. This piece of legislation was wildly popular in both the Senate, where it was passed in June of 2018, and the House, where it was passed in December of 2018 and then quickly signed into law.   It re-classifies hemp as a legal agricultural product, which makes CBD products legal at the federal level.

In states where marijuana and/or CBD is legal, there’s no longer a clash between state and federal law, so the products are legally safe to use. Still, some states have specific laws on the books banning hemp products. So what does the new Farm Bill mean for those states?

Technically, federal law overrules state law. However, that doesn’t mean those states will stop arresting and trying people for CBD use, especially if they want to challenge the new federal law. If you’re in one of those states, talk to an expert about any possible trouble you could get into for using CBD products. The website ProCon.org has information about which states have laws specific to CBD oil. A site called Governing maintains a map of where marijuana is legal in some form.

The only form of CBD that is FDA-approved is Epidiolex, a purified formulation of CBD used for rare forms of epilepsy.   All the other CBD sources being enthusiastically marketed today are unregulated. They often contain amounts of CBD that are substantially different (too much or too little) than the labels indicate, and frequently contain higher levels of THC (the intoxicating chemical found in marijuana) than is permitted in a legitimate CBD product. Anyone electing to use CBD today will need to be cautious and ideally should consult with their physician before doing so.

A Word From Verywell

Treatment decisions should never be taken lightly, and that applies to “natural” treatments like CBD as well—especially when you take the law into account. Consider the pros and con carefully, and be sure to discuss this option with your doctor. Even if you’re taking it illegally, your doctor needs to know—your health could depend on it. As with any treatment, it’s important to watch for side effects.

With legal changes in store and lots of research coming out, we can probably expect a lot of change, and quickly, when it comes to CBD oil.

See what we know about CBD oil as a potential treatment for lupus, what the side effects are, and what you need to know about the legal status.

Best CBD Oils For Lupus 2020 – 3 Products You Should Consider

Every year, 16,000 new cases of lupus are diagnosed. This means that an estimate of 5 million people around the globe are currently living with lupus.

Despite the numbers, lupus has an unusually wide range of possible symptoms which makes it hard to diagnose and has proven to be challenging to treat.

CBD oil, derived from Cannabis Sativa, has become a huge trend in the recent marketplace when it comes to treating diseases involving pain and inflammation.

But, is it effective for lupus?

There lacks extensive research on the link between CBD oil and lupus, but there is a growing body of research that suggests that CBD oil might be helping with treating several aspects of it.

With the lack of research on the best CBD oil for lupus, we will go with what we already know about CBD in general.

Best CBD Oils for Lupus (November. 2020)

  • Spruce CBD – Best Potency
  • Pure CBD – Best Overall
  • Joy Organics CBDOil – Best Value

Take Spruce

  • Gluten-free products
  • Full-spectrum
  • Third-party lab tested

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The Lineup At A Glance

Best Potency

  • CO2 Extracted
  • Full-spectrum
  • Third-party lab tested

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Full-spectrum CBD oil

  • CO2-extracted
  • MCT Oil Derived from Coconuts
  • Highest quality

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Best Value

  • Test analysis found on the product page
  • Wholesale pricing for chronic pain patients

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What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Lupus happens when the immune system starts harming the body’s tissues and organs, which results in widespread inflammation. This inflammation can further affect the brain, lungs, heart, skin, joints, kidneys, and more.

The signs and symptoms of lupus that you could experience will rely on which body systems are affected by the disease. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A rash that shapes like a butterfly that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Rashes somewhere on the body
  • Skin lesions that develop or worsen when exposed to the sun (photosensitivity)
  • Fingers and toes turn white or blue during a cold or stressful period (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain and inflammation
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss

Because the symptoms are so numerous, lupus can be very hard to diagnose which results in patients taking a long wait before they can get a diagnosis or treatment.

In several cases, patients with lupus will feel symptomatic flare-ups that could get worse if treatment is not administered to help manage the condition.

Having lupus can possibly increase your risk of having:

  • Infection. Those who have lupus are a lot more vulnerable to infection since both the disease and its treatments can decrease the immune system.
  • Cancer. People with lupus appear to increase the chances and risk of cancer though the risk is small.
  • Bone tissue death (avascular necrosis). This happens when the blood supply to a bone diminishes, usually leading to tiny breaks in the bone and eventually to the bone’s collapse.
  • Pregnancy complications. Women with lupus could experience a risk of miscarriage. The illness enhances the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) and preterm birth. To lessen the risk of these complications, doctors usually suggest delaying pregnancy until your disease has been under control for at least six months.

Is CBD Helpful for Lupus?

While there are conventional medications that have been used as successful treatment options for lupus, they come with unwanted and sometimes serious side effects.

They can cause kidney and stomach damage, high blood pressure, weight gain, liver damage, infections, and sometimes even a higher likelihood of cancer.

Lupus is an incurable chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of your body. Your skin, organs, and joints are all susceptible to its wrath. Typically, our body makes antibodies that help fight off any pathogens that may have entered our body and can do us harm. When you have an autoimmune disease, your body can’t tell the difference between friend or foe, so it just starts attacking everything.

CBD oils may further provide a more natural solution for managing pain and inflammation linked to lupus.

You may have CBD medication in a specific formula to cure the symptoms. To avoid the “high” that THC gives you, several people use CBD products alone. However, if you need to get the relief THC provides, you’ll use medicine with a 1:1 ratio or even something with just a hint of the compound. The opportunity of having a CBD and THC medicine depends on the state’s laws, so investigate those before deciding on a formula.

CBD for Lupus Inflammation

Inflammation has always been a part of extensive research when it comes to CBD. Researchers believe that CBD contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that associate with the endocannabinoid system within the body.

The endocannabinoid system has receptors that assist in managing mood, memory, pain and inflammation. When the cannabinoids in CBD interact with these receptors, they trigger reactions that support fight inflammation.

Because lupus patients largely suffer as a result of inflammation, CBD is an efficient alternative for lupus patients who would choose not to tolerate the side effects of anti-inflammatory medications.

CBD for Lupus Pain

Lupus patients will often find themselves looking for over-the-counter pain relievers to help ease their swelling or discomfort. CBD is a valuable alternative therapy. It can help lupus patients experiencing chronic pain and migraines.

CBD will also help with arthritis, headache disorders, and neuropathic pain or inflammatory pain. This makes CBD a better option for patients looking to avoid long-term side effects of using painkillers all the time.

CBD Dosage for Lupus

Before adding CBD as part of your treatment plan, you should consult your doctor. Lupus can cause life-threatening complications and so you need a doctor to help you find the best CBD oil products that can work alongside traditional prescription meds.

When your doctor assures you that CBD is safe to add into your treatment, you will have to find a dosage that will work for you.

We recommend starting slow and experimenting to find the best dosage that works for you. Most CBD products have recommendation dose for you on the packaging which is a good place to start.

Most experts on the other hand, recommend 10-20mg per day or a ratio of 1:6mg per 10lbs of body weight.

For lupus, you may also consider adding a topical CBD cream as part of your daily routine as well. This will offer your relief from swelling and joint pain associated with lupus.

The correct dosing for lupus will ultimately depend on many factors like bearing strength of pain, body type, and your tolerance level.

Let your doctor give you a list of pros and cons before you consider adding CBD as part of your treatment. Once you do, make sure to buy the product from a reliable manufacturer to avoid further complications.

How Does THC Affect My Brain

Scientists then found out that the body’s own natural chemicals, anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol), which conjointly act on CB receptors. These chemicals (known as cannabinoids), besides their receptors, make up the endocannabinoid (EC) system.

The EC system is seen in several areas of the brain, this explains why it affects numerous different body functions. Cannabinoids exert their influence by controlling how cells communicate (how they send, receive, or process messages). Cannabinoids act as a kind of “dimmer switch,” decelerating down communication between cells.

When a person smokes marijuana, THC goes into the brain quickly and connects to cannabinoid receptors. The natural EC system is finely tuned to react suitably to incoming information. However, THC overwhelms the EC system. It doesn’t let natural chemicals do their job properly and throws the whole system off balance.

Memory impairment from using medical marijuana happens as a result of THC that alters however the hippocampus (an area in your brain accountable for memory formation) processes data. Several of the proof supporting this assertion is from animal studies.

As a person gets aged, they lose neurons within the hippocampus, which lessens their ability to learn new information. Chronic THC exposure might hasten age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. During a research, rats exposed to THC on a daily basis for 8 months (having 30% of their lifespan) showed a loss of nerve cell level at 11 to 12 months of age that is equivalent to unexposed animals twice their age.

CBD Side Effects

CBD oil might also multiply liver enzymes. Individuals with liver disease should use CBD oil with caution, ideally with the care of a doctor who can daily check blood liver enzyme levels.

CBD oil ought to be avoided when having pregnancy and breastfeeding. During 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics gives reminders to women to avoid medical marijuana during pregnancy due to the possible risks to a baby’s development. Although it is not clear how CBD contributes, CBD is known to able to pass through the placental barrier.

If you are wondering whether using CBD oil in treating a health condition, be certain to speak with your doctor to make sure that it is the right choice for you.

Some rumored side effects of cannabidiol stated as dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. There is also reported liver damage in some patients, but this is less common.

For some patients, CBD oil products have proven valuable in treating inflammation and lupus. Find out the best CBD Oil products for lupus in 2020. ]]>