Research has shown that marijuana contains medicinal benefits that treat an array of conditions.
Can marijuana help treat lupus and manage its symptoms? This article will aim to answer this question and provide insights into the benefits of medical marijuana.
The following is everything you need to know about lupus and how you can use medical marijuana to treat it!
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause inflammation throughout the body.
Your body produces antibodies to fight foreign invaders, however, with an autoimmune condition like lupus, your body creates antibodies that fight healthy tissues. When antibodies attack healthy tissues, that can lead to inflammation and tissue damage.
Lupus most commonly affects women aged 15 to 44 and can target the lungs, heart, brain, blood cells, kidneys, skin and joints.
Some potential symptoms of lupus include:
• Dizziness and headaches
• Swollen glands
• Hair loss
• Photosensitivity to the sun or light
• Shortness of breath and chest pain
• Confusion or memory loss
• Swelling of the feet, legs, hands and around eyes
• Stiffness, pain and swelling in joints
• Fever and fatigue
In some cases, the complications arising from lupus can be severe and usually affect vital organs.
Possible complications may include:
• Anemia or hallucinations
• Kidney damage or failure
• Increased risk of miscarriage in pregnant women
• Bone collapse
• Increased risk of cancer
• Increased risk of bleeding, blood clotting or strokes
• Infections due to compromised immune system
• Inflammation of the heart muscles and arteries
What Causes Lupus?
Most scientists believe that the development of lupus begins in response to a combination of factors that can either be in or outside the body, such as the environment, genetics, and hormones.
Researchers have yet to identify a specific agent in the environment that causes lupus, however they suspect that environmental agents may include a virus, or possibly a chemical. Scientists believe such agents can trigger the disease in those already genetically susceptible to lupus.
Researchers have now identified more than 50 genes they can now associate with lupus. While they don’t directly cause lupus, scientists believe these genes significantly contribute to it.
Lupus can also develop in people who have no family history of it. However, in such cases, it’s likely a family member had an autoimmune disease that was passed down.
These are the messengers of the body. They’re responsible for regulating many functions in the body.
As 90% occurrences of the disease are in women, scientists looked at the relationship between lupus and estrogen.
Researchers found that lupus symptoms were more common in women during pregnancy and/or before menstruation when production of estrogen was high. That said, no direct link has been found between lupus and estrogen, or any other hormone for that matter.
How is Lupus Diagnosed?
Diagnosing lupus can be challenging because its signs and symptoms are similar to other conditions like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease and thyroid problems.
A facial rash in the shape of butterfly wings, unfolding across the nose and both cheeks, is often the most distinctive sign of lupus.
If you have reasons to believe you have lupus, consult with your doctor. They will perform some tests and if they diagnose you with lupus, they’ll set up a treatment plan.
The diagnosis involves evaluations of the physical symptoms by a qualified physician. The physician will examine the functionality of both your kidney’s and liver. They may also suggest a variety of other tests that assess your other organs functionality.
Types of Lupus
Four types of lupus exist, each having varying effects on the body. The specific type of lupus someone has will impact the treatment plan.
This is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when antibodies are transferred from the mother to the baby. Affected infants often develop a characteristic red rash or other skin irritations. The most known potential complication is a heart condition known as a congenital heart block.
This is a type of lupus that’s caused by a reaction to certain medications. The two drugs most commonly associated with this autoimmune disorder are hydralazine and procainamide.
This refers to a form of lupus in which symptoms are restricted to those that affect the skin. Cutaneous lupus can be divided into several subtypes including, chronic cutaneous lupus erythematous, subacute cutaneous lupus erythematous, and acute cutaneous lupus erythematous.
This is the primary type of lupus which most people are familiar with. This commonly affects the functioning of the circulatory system, nervous system and kidney function.
Does Marijuana Help in the Treatment of Lupus?
Some promising research has indicated that marijuana can be a valuable option for treating people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus. This is primarily due to the fact that cannabis can suppress specific components of the immune system that cause inflation in the body.
Cannabis lowers interleukin-2 and increases interleukin-19 in the body. The former is responsible for managing symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and joint and muscle stiffness. The latter is an anti-inflammatory protein.
In general, majority of scientists believe that medical marijuana can fight pain and inflammation, which are the two common symptoms lupus patients suffer from.
Consult your doctor to see if this is the right course of treatment for you!
Just like most autoimmune diseases, lupus is characterized by many symptoms. Some are serious, like kidney damage, while others are more manageable but cause discomfort.
The good news is when it comes to symptoms like insomnia, pain, headaches, nausea, inflammation and anxiety, medical marijuana can help!