16,000 new cases of lupus are diagnosed each year, and an estimated 5 million people around the world currently live with this life-altering autoimmune disease. Even though lupus affects so many people, this condition is exceptionally difficult to diagnose and challenging to treat due to an unusually wide and varied array of possible symptoms.
For some patients, the recent explosion of CBD products in the marketplace has provided a valuable option for treating the pain and inflammation associated with lupus. In the sections below, we’ll provide a brief overview of this condition, take a closer look at the connections between CBD and lupus treatment, and explain how much CBD to take for lupus.
What is Lupus?
Before we dive into the details on CBD, let’s start with a brief overview of lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system attacks your own tissues and organs, causing widespread inflammation that can affect the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, joints, and more. The early symptoms of lupus vary widely, but can include fatigue, fever, joint pain and swelling, chest pain, skin lesions, and headaches. The most distinctive symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash that spreads across the cheeks, though not all patients experience this. Because the symptoms of lupus are so diverse, the condition can be extremely difficult to diagnose; as a result, it often takes a long time for patients to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment.
Most patients with lupus experience symptomatic flare-ups that can worsen without successful treatment to manage the condition. Over time, lupus can cause kidney damage, neurological issues that range in severity from memory problems to seizures, and a heightened risk of heart, lung, and blood vessel conditions.
Doctors believe that lupus is usually triggered by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Infections, certain types of medications (including anti-seizure, antibiotic, and blood pressure drugs), and even exposure to sunlight can trigger the disease as well. Most patients are diagnosed between ages 15 and 45.
How is Lupus Usually Treated?
There’s currently no cure for lupus, but it’s important for patients to work with their doctors and develop an effective treatment plan to avoid the complications outlined above. Treatment options are dictated by the specific symptoms experienced by each patient. Common treatments for lupus include:
Over-the-counter pain relievers are used by many lupus patients to control pain, swelling, and fever. Some patients may also require stronger prescription pain medications.
Corticosteroids like Prednisone are used to reduce inflammation, particularly if lupus begins to affect brain or kidney function.
Medications used to treat malaria also interact with the immune system in a way that can reduce flare-ups.
Because lupus is caused by destructive immune system activity, immunosuppressants may be helpful in more severe cases.
Is CBD Helpful for Lupus?
While the medications above can be used as part of a successful treatment plan for lupus, many of them also come with serious and unwanted side effects. NSAIDs can cause stomach and kidney damage, corticosteroids have side effects that range from weight gain to high blood pressure, and immunosuppressants come with risks including infection, liver damage, and a higher likelihood of cancer. For these reasons, many lupus patients seek alternative therapies to reduce the number of medications needed to manage their disease. While almost all patients will require medication to prevent lupus flare-ups, CBD may provide a more natural alternative for managing the pain and inflammation linked to lupus.
CBD for Lupus Pain
For patients who use over-the-counter pain relievers to treat discomfort or swelling associated with lupus, CBD may provide a valuable alternative therapy. CBD has been the subject of extensive medical study in the field of pain relief. A 2018 study explored the benefits of medicinal cannabis for a variety of conditions including migraines and chronic pain, with promising early results. Additional studies have pointed to the efficacy of CBD for headache disorders, arthritis, and inflammatory or neuropathic pain. For lupus patients seeking to avoid the potential side effects of long-term painkiller use, CBD could have significant benefits.
CBD for Lupus Inflammation
Like pain, inflammation has been the subject of extensive research in connection to CBD. Scientists now believe that CBD can be a powerful anti-inflammatory thanks to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, a complex network of receptors within the body that manage pain, memory, mood, and inflammation. When cannabinoids like those found in CBD interact with the CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, the receptors trigger reactions that fight inflammation in the body.
A 2009 study showed particularly promising results, noting: “Cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous ligands play a crucial role in the regulation of the immune system…Overall, cannabinoids have exhibited significant potential to be used as novel anti-inflammatory agents and specific targeting of CB2 receptors holds the promise of mediating immunosuppressive effects without exerting psychotropic side effects.” Because inflammation is at the root of the most serious symptoms of lupus, CBD may be an effective alternative for patients who are unable to tolerate the side effects of traditional anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids.
What’s the Right CBD Dosage for Lupus?
If you’re interested in adding CBD to your lupus treatment plan, it’s important to start by consulting with your doctor. Because lupus can have life-threatening complications, a medical professional can help you find the right place for CBD alongside more traditional medications.
Once you’ve worked with your doctor to make sure CBD can safely be added into your treatment plan, you’ll need to find a dosage that works for you. CBD dosages aren’t one-size-fits-all, and you’ll likely have to experiment until you find a dose that meets your needs. It’s best to start with the lowest possible dosage; the recommendation on the packaging for most commercial CBD products is a good place to start for adults. Alternately, many experts recommend a baseline dose of 10 to 20mg per day, or a ratio of 1 to 6mg per 10 pounds of body weight. Finally, you might consider incorporating a topical CBD cream into your daily routine for relief from the joint pain and swelling associated with lupus.
Due to FDA Regulations, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website, where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.