Cannabis Can Help with Autoimmune Issues

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Following up on the previous post on osteoarthritis, let’s discuss the role of cannabis in managing autoimmune disease.

An autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. Common types of autoimmune disease are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis. When living with an autoimmune disease, pain management can be an around the clock endeavor. Because of the opioid crisis and big pharma in general, many sufferers are seeking alternative therapies, which, until things change, is the aisle where you will find cannabis. 

First, here’s the part where we give the standard disclaimer that this article is not intended as medical advice but as suggestions of exploration and education. For medical advice, please consult your doctor.

Did you know that medical doctors don’t write prescriptions for cannabis? We didn’t either until a recent conversation with Dr. Margaret A. Peterson, who, in addition to her Family Practice, is the Medical Director at the Claudia Jenson MD Center for Integrated Medicine in Ventura. Dr. Peterson consults with patients regarding the appropriateness of cannabis for their specific conditions. Rather than give prescriptions for medical marijuana, doctors give suggestions. “Go low and slow. This is your journey” is how Dr. Peterson describes the way to find the right cannabis dose. A .25mg micro-dose of a THC to CBD ratio of 1:1 is a good place to start.

How do you prefer your cannabis? Tinctures? Topicals? Vaporizers? Edibles? Does the idea of “smoking” make you shudder? If so, cross off vaping. Does the ease and convenience of tinctures appeal to you? Would you prefer an edible to nibble? Dosing needs to suit you, not anyone else. Think how your body feels and what it wants. Don’t be shy about asking questions at a dispensary or trying new products. Everyone responds differently to CBD. Actually, you could argue everyone responds differently to everything, but here’s the thing: the cannabis industry acknowledges there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation and advocates for individual case-by-case dosing.

Due to its history of being illegal, cannabis research depends a lot on anecdotal evidence. A colleague of ours recently shared that she started treating her autoimmune symptoms with a 30:1 ratio topical, now is using a 20:1 ratio, and is thinking of lowering it to 18:1. She also said that the cannabis helped her come off of antidepressants.

Cannabis doesn’t cure autoimmune diseases but helps manage its symptoms. Because cannabis can help suppress inflammation it is helpful in treating the chronic pain, via the inflammation, central to autoimmune diseases. Pain causes anxiety which causes loss of sleep. With pain management, it’s possible for people to get away from pricey pharmaceutical products such as Ambien and Xanax. Remember, cannabis is not a cure-all. Adjustments to what we eat (refined carbs, anyone?) and how we move can have a huge effect on wellbeing.

Like many growth industries before it, cannabis is saturated in information and misinformation. Though it’s been around for thousands and thousands of years, its illegal status prevented research. For some self-education, a recommended Web site is projectcbd.org.

Let’s keep the learning conversation going, as an education is never wasted. 

Amy Orozco