The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Lupus, which affects 5 million people throughout the world, is an autoimmune
disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues.
Studies have shown marijuana effectively improves inflammation and pain in
chronic inflammation diseases like lupus.
Overview of Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks
its own tissues and organs through inflammation. When operating correctly,
the immune system effectively fights off bacteria, bacteria and germs to
remain healthy. In an autoimmune disorder, like lupus, the body is unable to
tell the difference between harmful foreign invaders and healthy tissues and
it responds by creating autoantibodies that cause inflammation and attack
and destroy the healthy tissue. Lupus can damage the body’s skin, kidneys,
blood cells, joints, heart, brain and lungs.
According to the Lupus Foundation of American, flares and remissions
characterize the autoimmune disease, as symptoms will continuously flow
between worsening and improving. The disease is not contagious.
It can be difficult to diagnose lupus. While it doesn’t occur in all cases,
during flare-ups, the most distinctive symptom is a facial rash that
resembles butterfly wings across both cheeks. When symptoms flare up, they
can include fatigue and fever, joint pain and stiffness, skin lesions,
shortness of breath and chest pain, dry eyes, headaches and fingers and toes
that turn white or blue.
The disease can range from mild to life threatening and while there is no
cure, with treatment, most people can manage their symptoms and lead a full
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Lupus
Cannabis has been found to effectively improve inflammation and pain, making
it beneficial for those diagnosed lupus.
The major cannabinoid found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has
been determined to trigger cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which are
primarily found in the brain and on the cells of the immune system,
respectively. Triggering these receptors stimulates an immunosuppression
response, as cytokine and chemokine production is downregulated and
t-regulatory cells are upregulated. A review article analyzing the research
of THC’s effect on inflammation concluded that the cannabinoid found in
cannabis has demonstrated it can constitute as a potent treatment modality
against inflammatory disorders (Nagarkatti, et al., 2009).
Cannabis can also help curtail the pain associated with inflammatory
diseases like lupus. Receptors CB1 and CB2 are involved in the mediation of
pain caused by inflammation, so as the cannabinoids in cannabis act upon the
receptors, pain decreases (Clayton, Marshall, Bountra & O’Shaughnessy, 2002)
(Elikottil, Gupta & Gupta, 2009). One study found that cannabis use is
prevalent among the chronic pain population and their primary responses for
reasons for use included improvements in pain (Ware, et al., 2003).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana Lupus
Currently, only the states Illinois and New
approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of lupus.
A number of other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used
for the treatment of lupus with the recommendation from a physician. These
states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Other states have approved cannabis for pain, a symptom commonly associated
with lupus. Several states have approved medical marijuana specifically to
treat “chronic pain.” These
states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Lupus
Review of studies determines that cannabinoids in cannabis can serve as
a compelling treatment modality against inflammatory disorders.
Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.
Clayton, N., Marshall, FH., Bountra, C., and O’Shaughnessy, CT. (2002,
April). CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors are implicated in inflammatory
Elikkottil, J., Gupta, P. and Gupta, K. (2009, November-December). The
analgesic potential of cannabinoids. Journal
of Opioid Management,
Lupus. (2014, November 18). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/basics/definition/con-20019676.
Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S.A., Hegde, V.L., and Nagarkatti, M.
(2009, October). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future
Ware, M.A., Doyle, C.R., Woods, R., Lynch, M.E., and Clark, A.J. (2003,
March). Cannabis use for chronic non-cancer pain: results of a prospective
What is lupus? (n.d.). Lupus
Foundation of America.
Retrieved from http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/what-is-lupus.
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