Auto-Immune Diseases and Cannabis
When immune cells attack rather than protect the body as intended, it creates an autoimmune disease. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases ranging from Addison’s disease to Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms, signs, and treatments for every kind of autoimmune disease vary greatly. In researching relief and cures for each type, a 2017 Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics study found immune-modulating agents of cannabis can alter cells, specifically T-cells, B-cells, microglia, and monocytes, all of which relate to autoimmune disease.
Understanding Auto-Immune Diseases
A 2020 report from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) reports autoimmune disease is on the rise specifically for adolescents at 12 and older. Between 1988-1991 autoimmune disease affected 11% of the juvenile population, and by 2012 it rose to 15.9%, equaling 41 million adolescents. NIEHS doctors are unsure why the rise, hoping a national register of autoimmune diseases will establish geographic hot spots that will help reveal a cause due to environmental factors, including childhood poverty, ultraviolet rays, and agricultural chemical association.
Symptoms of an autoimmune disease and treatments range widely based on the nearly 100 conditions that they cause, but some early signs are similar among all types. Fatigue, swelling, soreness, difficulty concentrating, hair loss, and numbness in feet and hands are all signs someone could be suffering from an autoimmune disease.
What we know about THC & CBD for Autoimmune Diseases
The aforementioned Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics study in 2017 reported agents of cannabis being immune-modulators in clinical trials for multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and fibromyalgia. Additionally, a 2016 Israel medical periodical journal Harefuh concludes cannabis Sativa could be an immunomodulator, offering hope for new treatment options specifically in major autoimmune diseases of Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Former Project CBD and Society of Cannabis Clinicians consultant Sarah Russo concurs with the evidence, reporting on immune system modulation. “Based on current research, cannabis therapies may provide benefit for autoimmune disease in three basic ways: modulation of the immune system, decreasing general inflammation, and helping to assist the digestive system,” Russo wrote.
Russo’s theory of “molecular mimicry” lends even more hope to CBD’s inflammatory qualities and the calming effects of THC, both assisting in healing some autoimmune disorders. While no conclusive, human trials prove that medical cannabis could help with alleviating the many signs and symptoms of autoimmune disease, current research and past proof of 17th-century herbalists using it suggest it does. “The roots of the cannabis plant have a long history of medical use stretching back millennia. However, the therapeutic potential of cannabis roots has been largely ignored in modern times,” reports journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.