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Treating Lupus With Cannabis

December 16, 2013

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

  • Hyde

    I think the article kind of sells short the benefits of THC. It makes it sound like CBD is about all that will work. THC is an excellent anti-inflammatory, as well as being good for pain and nausea, another side effect of lupus and/or the meds for it. Remember also that both THC and CBD work better together, so ideally you’ll be able to keep both in your stash. It’s important for patients to keep strain journals to help you remember which strains help with which symptoms too! Also, try topicals for your joint pain. With topicals I definitely like 1:1 THC:CBD, the combo is amazing.

    • My Name 2

      That’s great if you are legally able to acquire THC. Unfortunately for most states that is still illegal and CBD is not. CBD will do the same without the psychoactive effects of the THC as well.

      • Hyde

        CBD doesn’t do the same thing as THC for some people. Some people really do need THC, including some people with seizure disorders. CBD only laws are insufficient and arbitrary, and help fuel the opiate epidemic by denying patients an extremely beneficial pain reliever/anti-inflammatory

        • My Name 2

          I have heard of these “some” people, but have not actually met any yet. I have worked with over 1,000 people so far since starting our CBD business and have yet to find one that did not receive some benefit from the oil. I am not saying it does not happen, but it seems to be few and far between. If you absolutely must have THC and are able to be “high” and not totally coherent for periods of time, then good for you. I have no problem with that. For those who work or have to be focused I would absolutely recommend trying CBD.

          • Hyde

            One of the Stanley brothers that developed the strain Charlotte’s Web said some patients that have come to them over the years just don’t respond to CBD. I’m guessing he’s seen quite a few severe cases of epilepsy, I trust what he says. I’m all for CBD, it helps me a lot and I think more people should try it. I just don’t want people to get the wrong idea, that CBD is medicinal and THC is not. Also, you don’t have to be high all day with THC. You develop a tolerance, and some strains allow you to remain pretty clear headed. I believe it’s ludicrous to try to legalize one compound from a plant while keeping the rest illegal, so I like to remind people that they don’t really support medical cannabis legalization if they don’t support whole plant medicine along with CBD. Anything less than the whole plant and it’s home cultivation being legal is a gross injustice. Aside from my pro-THC rant, CBD is awesome and effective and more people should try it and good for you for starting a business that will help people. I hope those cases of CBD not helping people that Mr. Stanley talked about are indeed extremely rare, or perhaps there were other factors that prevented it from being effective in those cases. Maybe the patients were improperly weened off of their seizure meds, and that made it seem like the oil didn’t help because they were having withdrawal seizures. Either way, let’s hope they fully legalize cannabis so people can go to a store and try different strains that have been lab tested to see what works for them and what doesn’t. Keep up the good work!

      • elissa pfeffer

        I have tried 2 different companies for cbd oil and it did not help at all I tried 3 bottles no pain reduction. Very disappointed

        • My Name 2

          Who did you try? We also tried 3 companies before finding one that worked for us. 2 of them did nothing for us and 1 had negative effects on both my wife and I

    • Jennifer Ralph

      I am in colorado and have been diagnosed with lupus just last week. I have known I had it since 2009..teehee takes has taken a long time to diagnose.
      I use a 1:1 the to 2nd called synergy to help with throbbing tendonitis it stops the throbbing in my hands wrists and elbows.

      • Brit Benton

        You have the throbbing too? Ugh I thought I was close to the only one who experiences this with fibromyalgia and lupus. I also get cold finger last and hands and feet. (Raynauds syndrome sorry if I misspelled that)

    • Jennifer Ralph

      Strain journal..good idea. I have been trying to explain this to other patients..its all about the strain. I need both cbd and thca..

      • Hyde

        The strain definitely makes a difference! I’m with you, I like a balance of cannabinoids. I definitely feel lucky to live in a legal state where we have options

  • Mary Lucas

    My sister was diagnosed with lupus 2 years ago, and she found great relief from strains that are both high in THC and CBD. She uses high CBD strains for general daytime relief, while treating with high THC strains during some evenings to help relax too. Thankfully the weed has also helped reduce the depression and anxiety that she suffered as a result of being diagnosed with lupus. Check out this article, I hope it helps you too:

  • SurvivalHorror Goddess

    I’ve been dealing with lupus for over half my life, its symptoms would come an go without any obvious cause, and i was misdiagnosed with several different diseases prior to having specialized tests which determined it was in fact Lupus. the drugs i was previously on messed with my weight and mood so i stopped taking them altogether and would only resort to taking them when i had a flare up.
    however i also have been dealing with Anorexia and anxiety since i was 12.
    and only i found out much later on that Marijuana could treat or at least relieve the many problems i have.
    – it helps me eat, or makes me want to eat and its a lot easier to keep food down. otherwise i always feel nauseous when i eat anything heavily or solid.
    – it fights inflammation, and relieves pain.
    – and it greatly helps relieve anxiety.
    there are many other benefits like it makes your daily outlook more positive, you feel calm and relaxed but are still fully lucid and aware and don’t feel sedated and groggy like how pharmaceutical drugs make you feel.
    its just a shame its illegal in majority of the world because so many more people could benefit from it.

  • Abigail L.J.

    I am currently using a high concentration of a CBD tincture to help with my Lupus SLE symptoms and also for pulmonary arterial hypertension. So far I have had a huge success including weight loss, almost 40 pounds! I’ve been able to walk further and have less shortness of breath. My heart pounding erratically has subsided quite a bit. After starting my CBD tincture, I no longer need 12 Tylenol Extra Strength tablets daily, in fact, I no longer take OTC pain medication or Rx pain medications. My oxygen saturation is so much better letting me live on 4-6 liters of oxygen 24/7 rather than, 7 liters of oxygen 24/7. All around, I would say CBD is saving my life!

    • Hi! I also have lupus, and I’m curious if you could speak more to your weight loss experience? Was it more related to moving easier? Or something more linked to your symptoms? I’ve often been curious as to whether or not my weight is, itself, a symptom.

      • Abigail L.J.

        Hello Abby, I would love to speak more about my weight loss experience. I believe that I am losing fluid weight. I have pulmonary arterial hypertension which has given me congested right heart failure. I am on strong diuretics but they didn’t seem to be helping me much. Once I started using a CBD tincture the fluid just started coming off and I could walk and breathe better.
        As for helping with Lupus, my joint pain has subsided, my flare ups have been calmer and the all around pain is at a minimum. I am on Facebook, if you’d like to message me let me know.

    • elissa pfeffer

      I am going to be starting with MM soon can you tell me what strain you are using and what concentrate of the CBD tincture you are using
      Thank you

    • Holly

      Hi Abigail. So happy to hear you feel much better. I too have Lupus as well as PAH which does leave me breathless as well. What is the brand and dosage of the tincture that has helped you? Thank you and God Bless. Holly

  • elissa pfeffer

    I am currently on Plaquenal for my Lupus. Do you think I would be able to stop taking this once I begin MM? I’m still waiting for my card. Florida is 6 weeks behind in processing them.

    • Ali L Jazz

      Curious, did you get approved on your Lupus diagnosis? My mother sent me home with a syringe of CBD this evening to assist with this insane flare I am having! Luckily, I have a wonderful pain management doc, and my pain is well managed but looking for something to manage the other chronic issues like skin manifestations, thyroid issues etc. I hear they are more like 6 -9 months behind on processing and do not answer their phones, as a well-known local radio show was just discussing this issue and so was unsure if I should even attempt for my Chronic multi-organ involvemrnt Lupus. Did you have any issues getting approved on that diagnosis? Of course, it isn’t my only one & I am on SSD

      • elissa pfeffer

        Hi Ali, I was approved with Lupus and Fibromyalgia And herniated disks in neck. It took about 2 months over the summer to get card. Now I hear it’s longer. Good luck to you. Try to find a good mmdr. I went to certified marijuana doctors not happy with them. Switching to someone else.

  • LoveCannabis EU

    Hello! I use the CBD which helps me, I feel great! I believe this product. I have a discount coupon from Elixinol and I can share it: 10off489

  • revolution baby!

    My wife has lupus and I’ve been researching at great lengths to understand the condition and to find the best treatment for her.
    Without any doubt cannabis ticks every dam box. Pain relief, now treated with gummy bears, laced with high cbd. She takes one maybe two a day.
    This equates to only 30mg of codeine a day instead of the maximum 240mg.
    So immediately, constipation is minimized and of course the dreaded lactolose.
    I could go on and list all her crap medications that claim to improve her physical and mental health. But it tires me to do so. Especially when I know that the majority of her pills are just the same ol big pharma b.s. that dominates the market.

  • Holly

    Hi Everyone. I’ve had Lupus for 35 years now with organ involvement. I’m on many meds and some of the meds are to counter act the side effects. I also havenTIA’s and seizures. I have been taking >1 THC/5 THC/>5 CBD a dose of .5ml at bed to help sleep. My question to anyone that can help, is, How long does it take to feel some positive effects? Does anyone think that all the pharmaceuticals I’m taking are masking any good I may be getting from the CBD oil? Anyway it’s very expensive and I’m not sure if I should give it more time!!!
    Thank you for any input.

    • Jennifer Ralph

      My first seizure was in 2009 when I was in nursing school when I took myself off of heavey THC use to go to school..teehee life had other plans.3 month off THC I was in big trouble. I got to be one of the first patients in Hayward cal. In 1996. For chronic nausia and stomach I know its all lupus and THC has been helping me stay off meds for 22 years. I am 44 now. And needing help with meds to get my body to calm down I am looking both hands and feet to arthritis and every kind of tendonitis tendinovitis tendonosnoyvitis…fun..but I believe its all about the strain I have been using.. In the last two years I lost my heavey indica and have been using 70/30..I think this is the source as I have figured it out 4 months ago. So my caregiver is now working on a chem dawg strain as it kills my pain. I believe its all about the strain of cannubis used to treat what symptoms.I will let you know in 4 months how I am doing cause the first batch of indica is almost ready for me to try. I hope I can slow the amount of hydrochloriquine and gavapenton and ibuprophine cause I can not take Motrin my stomach..gezz..I start smoothies today of pure leaf juice i have been told by my Dr. Is what we need.

      • Holly

        Thankyou for your input Jennifer. I look forward to hearing from you in 4 months time to see how you are doing.I’m still on same protocol since 3 months ago when I first wrote. My spells have decreased significantly and my perhiperal neuropathy has improved by 50%. I still do not feel confident enough to drive just in case of a spell. i.e. seizure or TIA. I have an appointment with a Cannabis Dr in April who deals with Lupus and she’ll hopefully give me some advice on what would work even better for my neurological symptoms. I too drink green smoothies 2 times per day. It has made a big difference in energy. Cheers Holly

        • Jennifer Ralph

          What state are you in. I would love to hear about this Dr. Visit who she is and what she says. I was told to juice the leaves.

          • Holly

            Hi Jennifer. Sorry for late reply. I haven’t been to this site for a couple of months. I live in Canada so my cannabis Dr doesn’t prescribe outside of Canada. Since seeing her in April she put me on a different protocol. Alot of symptoms have decreased or dissappeared completely. i.e.minimal anxiety, much much happier, amazing energy (most days), cognitive has improved immensely, sleep very good now, no aches or pain and my vision I’m noticing some days I don’t need my glasses to read up close. There is more but I still do have the odd day where I do feel symptoms but nothing like before!

  • Christina Spain

    My name is Christina.
    I am writing you because my story needs to be told. I am a firm believer in Medical Cannabis. I went to a doctor in 1994 because of this rash that crossed the bridge of my nose. Later I was told it was a butterfly rash that was swelling my eyes closed, diagnosis was Lupus. He prescribed all the steroid creams and pills that made me sick. A Rheumatologist asked me to try something different, maybe something natural. I started researching the disease and came to terms it was incurable. It was immune disease and it would attack my weakest organs.
    When I was a baby I had scarlet fever and almost died, and it left me with damaged kidneys which would be a problem for the rest of my life. So, I was aware of the medical solutions to a disease that wasn’t curable, fix symptoms which can range from chronic pain, fatigue, arthritis, weight loss etc. After everything, I went with cannabis (not medical at the time). One-year check-up the Doctor told me the blood work came back with signs of improvement and recommended that I keep doing what I was doing. In 2015, I had to have surgery and told them my condition, so a physical was ordered to see if all was good. Results showed that everything is in remission. I believe it is because the CBD from cannabis gives the immune system something else to focus on instead of the organs.

    • KN

      Hi Christina! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m researching for a dear friend who just received a Lupus diagnosis. Would you care to share what, when, and how much you take? I’m curious as I don’t see many specifics. I don’t know anything about cannabis. I see people discussion THC or CBD for both. Thanks!

      • Holly

        Hi Christina Your story is so encouraging and hopeful. Are you able to discuss the brand/company and doses of your cannabis treatment on this site. If so could you share as I am so confused with all the reading and watching video after video trying to understand what would be best for Lupus. Thank you.

    • Brit Benton

      Wow you’re such a trooper! I have a lengthy list of medical and mental health diagnosis. Those include but aren’t limited to Autism, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, lupus, adhd, ocd, cPTSD anxiety and Sensory processing disorder. I have very good vital responses, fantastic blood pressure, and my stress level is so much better after smoking or using cbd. I hope you feel better. Peace

    • Christina Johnson

      Hello Christina, I must say your story has given me hope. My name is Christina and I’m from Oklahoma. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Lypoma and yesterday was diagnosed with Lupis. I have had 11 surgeries in the past 3 1/2 years and have fought to get my health back but it has been a constant struggle. I live with so much pain and have extreme muscle spasms in my legs and arms and don’t like taking pain medicine because I live alone since my husband passed away in 2015. I have worked so hard to lose weight and suffer from depression and it seems all the doctor’s want to do is prescribe me steroids that cause me to gain weight and make my blood sugar levels spike. I had been diagnosed years ago with type II diabetes. I have lost 78 lbs and am no longer diabetic but the Rheumatologist has changed my medicine twice already and the cost of the medicine is not cheap and I don’t like the side effects of the medicine. He told me that if the new medicine doesn’t seem to help me the only thing he could suggest is steroids which will cause me to gain my weight back and throw me back into being type II diabetic again. Oklahoma just passed the law approving medical cannabis for people that need it. Are all Rheumatologist able to prescribe medical cannabis or do you have to go to a certain type of Rheumatologist for this. I’m new to all of this and it appears my Rheumatologist isn’t recommending anything natural to help with my condition he just wants to prescribe pills that have so many side effects. I could really use some feed back from someone that has used medical cannabis and what steps I can take to get on the correct path to take control of my condition. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      • Sophie McVicker

        Hi Christina! So sorry to hear about your rough medical past. I’m from Colorado, where cannabis has been medically legal for a long time and is now recreationally legal as well. I’m not sure what the specific steps are to get your medical cannabis card in OK, but it should be pretty easy to find out with a few google searches. Once you have your medical card, the people who work at the dispensaries should be able to help you figure out the best course of action. The people in this field, especially the medical side, are often extremely passionate, knowledgeable, and eager to work with you/get to know your condition and help you navigate the options. How it works in CO is you choose a certain dispensary and they are the equivalent of your primary care doctor, and it’s an ongoing relationship where you can tell them what helps and what doesn’t and try different combinations of products until you find what works best! Given how recently the legislation was passed, it might take some time for the infrastructure to be developed, but when it is you should definitely get on that! I have lupus and both CBD and THC products work wonders. It’s amazing the variety of products too; obviously good ol’ marijuana/”weed” which helps with my stomach issues, but also infused edibles, cremes, patches, drops.. you name it! All the best to you!

    • Lisa Kraft-Holloway

      Christina! Have you ever considered using CBD tinctures?

  • Brit Benton

    I have lupus and fibromyalgia, epilepsy and mild Autism as well as cPTSD and anxiety and ocd and insomnia and ADHD. (I have more issues but these are the most debilitating and hardest to deal with.) Anyway my friend gave me 3 joints and 2 blunts after a shit day of work and a flare from everything I have. After I ate, smoked, and lay down I was out. I slept the whole night pain free, seizure free, anxiety free, paranoia free. Since then I do it almost ritualistically and I love weed over taking medication any day. Weed is how I treat my physical and mental health issues. I love it so much. Just thought I’d add to the many weed success stories.

  • dodo

    Thanky you very muche for share your experiences. Hopefully i wil manage to help my mother.

  • Denise

    Hi there. I was just diagnosed with Lupus have an appointment in 2 weeks with specialist to discuss pain relief. I to have to take 8 to 10 extra strength Tylenol to get some kind of relief and have now started using Arthritis Tylenol. I hear lots of positive outcomes with CBD oils. I need something stronger than what I have been taking but scared to have that “not focussed” feeling which I can get time to time already, which I am told can be from Lupus. Hope get relief soon🙂 and more in favour of trying CBD oils or THC.