Top 5 Uses of CBD for Autoimmune Disease
Diseases of the immune system, or autoimmune disease, strike 1 in 5 people in the U.S today. That's a whopping 20% of the population.
But conventional immunosuppressive drugs have so many potentially damaging and even life-threatening side effects. So people suffering from autoimmunity are seeking relief from natural and holistic alternatives. CBD for autoimmune suppression is one highly effective substitute that’s gaining increased momentum.
So how does CBD compare to pharmaceutical medications designed to treat different autoimmune diseases today? Before breaking down some of the most common autoimmune conditions and the impact of CBD on each, let’s quickly recap the basics of autoimmune disease and CBD.
Autoimmune Disease: A Quick Rundown
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that cause the body to ambush healthy cells instead of bad culprits. Many of these autoimmune conditions have similar symptoms or manifestations.
The most common types of autoimmune disease are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), temporal arteritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, celiac disease, sjögren's syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, alopecia areata, and vasculitis.
Of the 50 million Americans with autoimmunity, the majority are women. Early signs of autoimmune disease include fatigue, sore muscles, muscle swelling, low-grade fever, difficulties focusing, numbness, tingling in the extremities, hair loss, rashes, and redness.
The synthetically produced antibodies in conventional prescription autoimmune medications are designed to "shut down" the immune system by attacking autoimmune antibodies. Over time, however, this can lead to chronic inflammation, degradation of the immune system, and unwanted strain on the liver.
Some autoimmune prescriptions can even increase the risk of infection and cancer. CBD is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum in terms of its effect on the immune system and liver.
A Brush-Up on CBD
Through a medical lens, a single cannabis plant is like a pot of gold in terms of the number and strength of healing components it contains. The cannabis family of plants contains 120+ naturally occurring cannabinoids called phytocannabinoids. These phytocannabinoids are like our body’s endocannabinoids in that they interact in the same way with our CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors to improve the harmonization of different systems within the body.
CBD is arguably the most influential phytocannabinoid in the cannabis plant on our health, wellness and internal harmony. Amongst a host of other problems people battle daily, CBD is highly recognized as a natural and effective solution for:
- Chronic inflammation and pain
- Slowing the growth of cancer
- Regulating natural chemical balances
- Mood disorders
- Smoking cessation
In short, CBD is like a multivitamin or superfood for the body that doesn't induce a high like THC. Now let’s dig into the top 5 uses of CBD for autoimmune disease. This list covers diabetes, MS, psoriasis, arthritis, and lupus.
CBD for Diabetes
How does CBD help diabetes? Diabetes is a group of diseases stemming from high blood glucose (i.e. too much sugar in the blood) and a loss of sensitivity to the hormone insulin, chronic inflammation, and increased risk of infection. Common treatments for type 1 and type 2 diabetes include insulin therapy, monitoring, and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
CBD has also proven to have profound impacts on diabetes or diabetic complications by acting as a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Because of the role of low-grade, systemic inflammation in the development of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, CBD may ease neuroinflammation and peripheral neuropathic pain stemming from nerve damage in the extremities commonly seen in people with diabetes.
In addition to CBD, some people also find that the mood-enhancing THC cannabinoid in the cannabis plant also reduces with diabetes-related pain. A 2015 study found that inhaling (aka smoking or vaping) marijuana flower reduced diabetic neuropathic pain in people with diabetes for several hours.
And did you know that being overweight is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes? Well, a highly vetted study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that marijuana use is associated with a smaller waist circumference. So CBD and other cannabis-derived compounds may also help prevent type 2 diabetes by regulating weight-related processes.
This same study also found that marijuana use is tied to lower levels of insulin. More specifically, cannabis is related to less fasting insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Why is this important? Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels in the body and allowing sugar to be used for energy. But many people with type 2 diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or resist insulin.
These findings demonstrate that the balancing CBD phytocannabinoid may help maintain insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The THCV phytocannabinoid in the cannabis plant may also play a role in reducing blood sugar. The extent of to which THCV helps to maintain blood glucose, however, is pretty slight.
Many patients also claim that the everyday use of CBD seems to improve their mental health overtime. But more insight is needed into whether the consistent use of CBD has a direct impact on mental health and positive psychology, or whether the everyday use of CBD indirectly reduces stress and bolsters sense of well-being by alleviating the physical symptoms of diabetes.
The metabolic impacts of CBD and other cannabis-derived cannabinoids on digestion and the movement of substances between cells in people with diabetes is another area that needs further investigation to fully understanding the benefits of CBD for diabetes.
CBD for MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 2.3 million people around the world. MS is characterized by the immune systems attacking the barrier protecting the nerves, which commonly impairs coordination and vision and causing pain and fatigue.
Standard treatments for MS include chemotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and immunosuppressive drugs. But CBD for MS is being used more and more as a more natural and healthy alternative treatment.
Frontiers in Neurology investigated the impact of CBD on mobility in people with MS (PwMS). Their research suggests that CBD improves mobility in PwMS by reducing fatigue, pain, spasticity, depression and similar disease states.
A recent study examining CBD for autoimmune encephalomyelitis in MS strongly indicates that CBD helps to treat MS by targeting various anti-inflammatory pathways. More specifically, the findings highlight the ability of CBD to positively manipulate anti-inflammatory myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) to ameliorate MS and other autoimmune diseases.
The personal, real-life experiences of people with MS also highlight the significant benefits of using CBD for MS. Devin Garlit, an editor from multiplesclerosis.net and an M.S. patient, for example, highlights his positive experiences with CBD supplements derived from the hemp plant. The hemp plant has a good amount of CBD but low levels of THC. Devin says when he takes CBD from hemp every day (or almost every day), his “body is much better off.”
He notices “less pain, less spasticity, and less fatigue” from using CBD for autoimmune treatment and other causes and symptoms of MS. Devin also says he’s been “out more” and “more active” after eight months of using CBD oil and supplements. He sums up his testimonial with the conclusion that CBD for autoimmune-related MS has “honestly…made a huge difference” in his life.
CBD for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition triggered by the overactivation of the immune system. Inflammation and itchy, dry, and/or scaly spots on the skin define psoriasis. Treatments for psoriasis commonly include photodynamic therapy, steroids, and anti-inflammatory drugs. But everyday use of CBD for psoriasis is being realized as a safer and more effective option.
A 2016 study indicates that cannabis may help alleviate psoriasis by modulating the interaction between the immune and nervous systems. Cannabis also reduces pain, stress, anxiety and even symptoms of depression stimulated by psoriasis outbreaks. However, too much cannabis can sometimes trigger anxiety depending on the individual person and strain used.
CBD for Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that eats away at joint tissue, potentially causing irreversible damage and discomfort. People with RA report feeling fatigue and experiencing fevers more often than in healthy people.
Consuming cannabis and, in particular, the CBD cannabinoid demonstrates time and time again to address such harmful consequences of RA. The application and consumptions of CBD for rheumatoid arthritis is also widely known to reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and quell discomfort in the joints.
CBD also demonstrates significant effects as a holistic, natural AND potent alternative to prescription drugs for the alleviation of osteoarthritis symptoms. Osteoarthritis, which has similar symptoms as RA including inflammation and pain in the joints, is characterized by joint stiffness from cartilage loss over time. CBD weakens osteoarthritis by kicking our CB2 receptors into full speed.
Our body’s CB2 cannabinoid receptor influences our immune system. When we consume cannabis, the CBD cannabinoid attaches to our CB2 receptor and activates the pathways influenced by this receptor protein. By activating the powerful signals that CB2 sends to the brain, CBD is able to stimulate the immune system, attenuate neuropathic pain and inflammation in the joints, and mend nerve damage. And by reducing the physical symptoms of arthritis, CBD can also mitigate stress and other common mental states that arthritis can ignite.
CBD for Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that incorrectly attacks healthy cells and tissues, instead of culprits like viruses and bacteria. Because this autoimmune disease in untreated state struggles to distinguish between good vs. bad agents in the body, lupus kicks our immune system into overdrive to try to fix the problem. The overactivation of the immune system over extended periods of time, in turn, can lead to low-level or chronic inflammation and painful swelling in the wrists, fingers, knees, and other joints. The physical effects of lupus are linked to fatigue, fevers, and the “lupus rash.”
The everyday use of CBD for lupus works in the same way as the everyday use of CBD for autoimmune therapy in general. It alleviates chronic pain, inflammation, and negative mood states by improving the natural functioning of the body.
Treatment of lupus includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as advil, ibuprofen and naproxen. But such anti-inflammatory drugs have a well-documented history of increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and a host of other serious problems. Antimalarial drugs is another treatment avenue for folks with lupus that may bring serious side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and even jaundice (i.e. yellowing of the eyes).
Final Thoughts on CBD for Autoimmune Disease
It’s widely known that pharmaceutical drugs designed to treat autoimmune disease can cause detrimental and life-altering impacts. Common treatments such as steroids, anti-inflammatories, intense therapies, and anticoagulants can lead to things like a weakened immune response, damage to bones and cells, and weight gain, to name a few. CBD for autoimmune treatment offers a natural alternative with a lot less side effects.
If you think about it, it’s pretty incredible that we have endocannabinoids in our body just like the phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The fact that plant-derived cannabinoids like CBD and human-derived cannabinoids both aim to balance our endocannabinoid system speaks volumes about the safeness and therapeutic benefits of CBD for autoimmune treatment.
There’s still a significant amount of controversial information out there trying to discredit the effectiveness and value of CBD for autoimmune conditions. But the amount of unbiased scientific evidence and remarkable patient testimonials pointing to the benefits of the everyday use of CBD for autoimmune treatment is overwhelming. And not just for the physiological treatment of diabetes, arthritis, MS, and other autoimmune types. But also in terms of associated mental health.
Discover more information about CBD for autoimmune treatment. Give us a call at 786.953.6838 to speak with a specialist about how CBD functions as a holistic remedy and natural chemical messenger.