Treating Lupus With Cannabis

Published on December 16, 2013 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body, especially in joints, skin, kidneys, and the brain. The most common form is called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which affects multiple organs. Due to hyperactivity of the immune system, healthy tissue is confused for harmful agents like bacteria and viruses and attacked by antibodies. As a result, lupus patients typically suffer chronic pain, tissue damage, swelling, and a variety of other symptoms that vary between individuals. There’s no cure for lupus, but its symptoms can be treated with prescription medications, many of which have unpleasant side effects (which are commonly remedied using…more prescription medication).

Angie has lupus. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she moved to California for the protection of their medical marijuana laws after discovering that cannabis resolved her symptoms better than the legal immunosuppressants and steroids. “I decided to treat lupus with cannabis because I was on methotrexate,” Angie told us. “I ended up getting pulmonary fibrosis from the methotrexate.” Alarmingly, methotrexate is known to carry this risk along with many other adverse effects.

Lupus can also be caused by many legal prescription drugs — over 400 different types, to be exact. Drug-Induced Lupus is one of its many types; others include Lupus Nephritis, which affects the kidneys, and Cutaneous Lupus, which targets skin and commonly forms a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose.

Relief of pain and inflammation are two commonly recognized therapeutic properties of cannabis, so its ability to treat lupus effectively is not surprising. “Cannabis seems to be the only safe, natural, and effective treatment that exists for lupus,” Angie says. “The key to treating lupus with cannabis is high levels of CBD orally ingested daily. Capsules seem to be the most convenient but can be difficult to locate.” Angie also juices the leaves of her homegrown CBD-rich strains to keep the lupus symptoms in check.

Like most conditions treatable with cannabis, there’s a frustrating shortage of research substantiating personal testimonies like Angie’s — but who doesn’t love a good cannabis success story?

image source: eljoja

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Bailey Rahn
Bailey Rahn
Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.
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