LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS & Cannabis studies completed
Ive read that over 1.5 million americans suffer from some form of Lupus. There are two kinds, systemic and discoid. Discoid causes severe rashes and allergic reactions/sensitivy to a variety of things. I have the systemic version of Lupus. This causes severe pain, and through the years I have also developed many problems with major organs. There are a whole other host of symptoms, but it's mostly the pain that is important here.
I have had symptoms of Lupus since I was 14 years old. I am 22 now, and experience very severe pain on a constant basis. The effects of chronic pain are life altering, to say the least. I've tried the pain medications that the medical community suggests, meditation, and other pain management programs. Nothing however, compares to the relief I feel when I smoke a cone or two of cannabis. When I smoke, I feel relief immedietly. The muscle pain, and joint pain subsides. This allows me to participate in fine movement activities that I would other wise have to give up, such as painting and writing. It also allows my mind to rest. When your in constant pain you can't think of anything else sometimes. It's so overwhelming and exhausting, mentally. The cannabis allows me to relax in the ways that most people take for granted. No one in my life knows that I use cannabis for this reason.
I'm posting about this, because I feel as though there are other sufferers that could benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana. The more medical benefits that it has, perhaps the more likely it will be to legalize it nationally.
As medical director of Medical Cannabis of Southern California I often evaluate patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and SLE (lupus). Both are characterized by extreme chronic joint pain. Today I evaluated a 54 year female who had been taking plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) to limit the joint inflammation. Unfortunately she is experiencing some unwanted side effects and has been using cannabis to help relieve them.
Plaquenil is a drug that is used to treat malaria infections. It also happens to have immunosuppressive properties and is used to limit inflammation. Arthritis is a disease that is characterized by pain secondary to joint inflammation.
This patient stated that the plaquenil was working great and her joint pain had been reduced tremendously. However it was causing pretty debilitating abdominal cramping, nausea and occasional vomiting. In many cases this can be reduced by taking with food but for her it was persistent and frequent.
A few weeks back she ran into a friend who had been using cannabis to treat her lupus arthritis. She convinced my patient to try a little to see if it would help. Not surprisingly her abdominal cramping subsided and her nausea went away. In addition her joint pain was significantly improved.
Cannabis has many anti-inflammatory properties. It directly binds to receptors on immune cells and modulates the inflammatory response. In addition it also reduces pain by directly binding to receptors in our nervous system.
My treatment plan for her is to try vaporizing an indica strain at night to help with sleep and use a topical cream during the day. She will most likely use cannabis indefinitely as there is no cure for arthritis (outside a joint replacement)
Source: Plaquenil, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Marijuana (Cannabis) | MCSocal
April 15, 2003 -- Cannabis may offer hope to people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Cannabis seems to decrease inflammation in the body by suppressing certain parts of the immune system. Researchers are hoping this finding will lead to new treatments.
Previous studies have hinted at immune system abnormalities among cannabis users -- specifically, in the function of immune system cells called T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. While these cells help the body fight infections, no direct link with lowered immunity has yet been shown.
In this study, researchers tested the blood of 29 cannabis smokers - 13 occasional users and 16 regular users (weekly or daily use). They compared the results with a group of 32 nonsmokers.
Again, researchers found that cannabis smokers had fewer immune-enhancing natural killer cells and lymphocytes, and higher levels of a protein that may promote tumor growth, called interleukin-10.
These changes can dampen the immune system's response to infection, increasing susceptibility to infections and promoting growth of tumors, states lead researcher Roberta Pacifici, PhD, with the Instituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy.
But researchers also say this finding could lead to new treatments for people with autoimmune disorders. Current treatments suppress the immune system -- thereby calming the abnormal immune response that plagues people with the conditions.
Cannabis lowers levels of the inflammation-promoting protein interleukin and raises levels of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin. Both of these findings could be of potential benefit for treating autoimmune disorders one day.
SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, April 16, 2003.