CBD for Lupus – As it turns out, CBD is not the same thing as cannabis. But that's just part of the story. Read more to see what you've been missing out on! See what we know about CBD oil as a potential treatment for lupus, what the side effects are, and what you need to know about the legal status. Studies have shown that CBD may help manage the symptoms of Lupus, such as inflammation, pain, and hypertension, which may be caused by anxiety and stress.
CBD FOR LUPUS: What You Thought You Knew
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles here are written by a Functional Medicine Holistic Nutritionist. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
CBD FOR LUPUS: What You Thought You Knew
Cannabis is a natural growing plant that aids not only in reducing symptoms but putting your body into homeostasis. When your body is in “balance” it will never show symptoms of a disease.
CBD for Lupus… Do we need it, what should I take, and what IS CBD?
First, let me be clear – CBD, Cannabis/Marijuana, and Hemp are NOT the same thing.
Everyone’s talking about Cannabidiol (CBD) and spreading a whole lot of misinformation. Many are using the wrong terms to describe what they have and what others should take and it is very misleading. This causes people to not feel relief or not understand it so they expect one thing and get another.
I’m going to tell you “must know” facts on CBD that you’re not going to find anywhere else.
How do I know all of these CBD facts?
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Well, besides my degree in health sciences that I use daily, I thoroughly research it, speak to professionals in the field, and use CBD and cannabis myself. Cannabis education is one of my passions!
Did you know CBD can be derived from different sources too?? Well, get into that.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural game-changer for anyone suffering from chronic inflammation, chronic pain, autoimmune conditions, and even cancer. Lupus sufferers find cannabis and CBD to work a million times better than any other medication and there are no side effects that will hurt us.
It’s the best addition to treatment for anyone and everyone (animals and children included)
Must-Know CBD Terms
Cannabis: It’s known as marijuana, weed, and pot. It’s the entire plant. It can be eaten, brewed, smoked and vaporized. Its oils can also be extracted and consumed, or incorporated into topical creams. Cannabis is consumed for its psychoactive and pain-relieving properties. It is currently a Schedule 1 drug in the United States and is illegal at the federal level, but is legal for recreational and/or medical use in 33 states.
Strain: A variation of cannabis that has been bred to enhance certain characteristics and compounds.
Terpenes: Aromatic oils secreted by the cannabis plant, which give its particular strain unique flavors and scents. Over 100 types have been identified. Terpenes also interact with other cannabis compounds to produce various physical and psychoactive effects.
Endocannabinoids: Neurotransmitters produced by the body that bind to cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids help to control functions like pain and inflammation and maintaining homeostasis in the body.
Cannabinoid: Chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers. These are the compounds that relieve pain, nausea, anxiety, inflammation and so forth. THC and CBD are two of the common ones we hear often. Cannabinoid’s bind to receptor sites in our brain (CB-1) and our body(CB-2). Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on the receptor they bind to.
THC: Abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the most popular compounds, or “cannabinoids,” found in cannabis. THC is the psychoactive component from the plant. It binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain that are responsible for pleasure and pain.
CBD: Abbreviation for cannabidiol, this is the other popular cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBD is non-psychoactive and, unlike THC which binds to cannabinoid receptors, stimulates the body’s own endocannabinoid system. This can lead to physical benefits like reducing pain and lowering inflammation.
Cannabis can be called marijuana, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Cannabis is the entire plant while marijuana is the flower of the plant. I’ll use the terms interchangeably.
Either way, it is one of the most beneficial and natural healing plants from nature. Cannabis can be made in many forms like vapes, gummies, oils, pills, topical creams, patches, and more.
It’s very complicated and contains so many different compounds that include terpenes and cannabinoids. Those compounds are used to create specific strains where each has different effects, taste, and smell.
Is CBD Oil for Lupus Safe or Effective?
Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Riteesha G. Reddy, MD, is a board-certified rheumatologist and internist at a private practice in Dallas, Texas.
CBD oil, which is derived from marijuana, has become a trend when it comes to treating diseases involving pain and inflammation. But is it effective for lupus?
So far, we don’t have conclusive evidence that CBD oil can safely treat lupus, but research is currently being conducted to help make this possible.
Because medical marijuana is still fairly controversial, and the laws are confusing, there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about CBD. That can make people hesitant to try it. Good news though—a new law is simplifying the matter for many of us.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. While it comes from cannabis, it doesn’t get you high because it doesn’t have psychoactive properties. The high comes from a different chemical in the plant called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Marijuana growers focus on strains and techniques that increase THC levels. Cannabis that’s grown for hemp tends to have a lot more CBD than THC.
If you look online, you can find a lot of claims about using CBD oil for medicinal purposes. Claims are so glowing, in fact, that you might start to wonder if they can possibly be true. Certainly, when they come from websites that promote marijuana legalization and use, you may be wise to question the veracity.
It’s too early in the research process for us to be able to say “yes” about many of the claims. However, we’re learning enough to be able to say “it’s possible,” or even, “we think so.”
CBD oil is used to treat a host of different conditions, although it’s not approved for any of these conditions, as of mid-2018:
- Chronic pain and inflammation pain
- Sleep disorders, including insomnia and nightmares
- Bipolar disorder
- Movement disorders (Huntington’s disease)
- Assistance with smoking cessation
- Stopping the growth of cancerous tumors
When it comes to taking CBD oil, you have a lot of options: smoking, taking capsules, drops or sprays under the tongue, and as a topical ointment. Research in the United States is in the early stages, though, since for decades, legal restrictions made it extremely difficult to study the medical benefits of marijuana.
CBD Oil for Lupus
With a lack of research on CBD oil for lupus, we have to go on what we know about CBD in general and can understand from research into conditions with similar symptoms or pathology. This potential treatment is likely to get attention from lupus researchers eventually, though, for several reasons.
- Lupus contributes to an epidemic of pain, including untreated and undertreated pain. Current treatments are far from perfect, so drug companies have a sizable financial incentive to find more effective medications.
- The opioid addiction/overdose epidemic is a huge problem for society and puts a lot of strain on the resources of the medical community, as well as law enforcement. Meanwhile, several studies have shown that when marijuana becomes legal in a state, the number of opioid prescriptions—and overdose deaths—drops. That’s bound to get the attention of healthcare providers who want to protect their patients, law enforcement agencies battling the problem, and lawmakers seeking solutions.
- A wealth of research suggests that CBD oil is effective against pain and inflammation, both characteristics of lupus. In its pure form, CBD oil is generally regarded as safe.
- We have abundant anecdotal evidence from people with lupus who say it’s effective. That can’t substitute for scientific proof, but it’s one more thing that gets healthcare providers interested.
Additionally, a 2018 study published in Cellular Immunology found that CBD may alter T-cell activity after spinal cord injury. Abnormal activity of T-cells—which are part of the immune system—are believed to be involved in lupus.
Lupus can include pain from neuropathy (nerve damage), and multiple studies suggest that CBD can alleviate that type of pain from diabetes, HIV, and other sources.
CBD Side Effects
We probably don’t yet know all of the possible side effects of CBD. Some side effects that have been reported are:
- Changes to liver enzymes used to process drugs
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Increased tremor in Parkinson’s disease (at high doses)
The World Health Organization says CBD oil may also:
- Alter hormonal levels
- Stimulate the immune system at low levels, and suppress it at higher levels
CBD doesn’t appear to lead to addiction or abuse. It’s also believed to have a low toxicity level, which means it takes a lot to cause an overdose.
Is CBD Legal?
You’d think the question of whether CBD is legal would get a straightforward, yes or no answer, but the legality issue can be confusing.
A lot of pro-marijuana websites have long claimed that it’s legal in all 50 states as long as it doesn’t have more than 0.3% THC. They based that argument on the provisions of a specific farm bill. But in 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the old bill didn’t apply to hemp or products derived from it.
Then came the 2018 Farm Bill. This piece of legislation was wildly popular in both the Senate, where it was passed in June of 2018, and the House, where it was passed in December of 2018 and then quickly signed into law. It re-classifies hemp as a legal agricultural product, which makes CBD products legal at the federal level.
In states where marijuana and/or CBD is legal, there’s no longer a clash between state and federal law, so the products are legally safe to use. Still, some states have specific laws on the books banning hemp products. So what does the Farm Bill mean for those states?
Technically, federal law overrules state law. However, that doesn’t mean those states will stop arresting and trying people for CBD use, especially if they want to challenge the new federal law. If you’re in one of those states, talk to an expert about any possible trouble you could get into for using CBD products. The website ProCon.org has information about which states have laws specific to CBD oil. A site called Governing maintains a map of where marijuana is legal in some form.
The only form of CBD that is FDA-approved is Epidiolex, a purified formulation of CBD used for rare forms of epilepsy. All the other CBD sources being enthusiastically marketed today are unregulated. They often contain amounts of CBD that are substantially different (too much or too little) than the labels indicate, and frequently contain higher levels of THC (the intoxicating chemical found in marijuana) than is permitted in a legitimate CBD product. Anyone choosing to use CBD should be cautious about the product they select and ideally consult with their healthcare provider before using it.
A Word From Verywell
Treatment decisions should never be taken lightly, and that applies to “natural” treatments like CBD as well—especially when you take the law into account. Consider the pros and con carefully, and be sure to discuss this option with your healthcare provider. As with any treatment, it’s important to watch for side effects.
With legal changes in store and lots of research coming out, we can probably expect a lot of change, and quickly, when it comes to CBD oil.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Fraguas-sánchez AI, Torres-suárez AI. Medical use of cannabinoids. Drugs. 2018;78(16):1665-1703. doi:10.1007/s40265-018-0996-1
Bradford AC, Bradford WD, Abraham A, Bagwell Adams G. Association between US state medical cannabis laws and opioid prescribing in the Medicare Part D population. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(5):667–672. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0266
Best CBD for Lupus – August 2022
There are several medications for people with lupus because of the vast array of possible symptoms a patient may have. Treatments depend on the severity of the condition.
People with lupus are prone to have serious complications that affect the body’s major organs, such as the skin, heart, lungs, and kidneys (5 ) .
Because of the numerous disorders that come with having lupus, several medications are prescribed by medical professionals as treatment options.
The Lupus Foundation of America’s list of drugs commonly used for lupus include (6 ) :
- Antimalarial drugs , like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine , for rashes and UV light protection
- Anti-inflammatory drugs , like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) , for swelling and pain reduction
- Biologics , like monoclonal antibody belimumab , to help the immune system function properly
- Immunosuppressants , like cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and azathioprine , to control the overactive immune system
- Anticoagulants , like aspirin, heparin, and warfarin , to prevent blood clots
- Steroids (corticosteroids) , like prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and hydrocortisone , to help with the body’s inflammatory response
The mentioned drugs and medications can be combined as prescribed by doctors and may cause side effects.
Taking a higher dosage of NSAID can cause gastrointestinal problems , such as stomach ulcers. Too much of it can reduce the kidney’s blood flow and may affect how the organ eliminates waste (7 ) .
Initially, doctors administer steroids in the lowest possible dosage. Long-term use and high dosage of steroids may have more adverse effects on patients than benefits (8 ) .
Continuous consumption of the drug may lead to osteoporosis and may increase the risk of infections, especially on open wounds (9 ) .
Medical professionals recommend immunosuppressants to those who have severe lupus cases but cannot take higher doses of steroids. Immunosuppressants lower the immune system’s activity that is attacking an individual’s tissues.
Lupus patients who are taking these drugs might have higher chances of developing other infections, like shingles, and severe diseases, like cancer (10 ) .
Given these side effects, some people have turned to natural alternatives, like cannabis (medical marijuana) to treat lupus symptoms (11 ) . Marijuana plants contain cannabinoids, the most active of which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the psychoactive counterpart of CBD. Products with this component can make the user high, so caution is advised.
There is no concrete evidence and documentation that CBD alone can directly treat lupus. However, according to studies, CBD may help manage other autoimmune disorders , like rheumatoid arthritis , multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and type 1 diabetes (12 ) .
Autoimmune diseases are chronic medical conditions wherein the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues and cells.
How CBD Oil Works to Help Alleviate Symptoms of Lupus
There are four different kinds of lupus, but the most common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This kind of lupus elicits an abnormal response from the immune cells, enabling the immune system to attack the body’s healthy tissues (13 ) .
These immune cells are called T cells and B cells. The former are white blood cells that fight foreign bacteria that enter into the body. The latter are the cells that produce antibodies.
Th ere are four kinds of lupus, and they all share common symptoms, such as (14 ) :
- Pain throughout the body including chest pain
- Inflammation or swelling of body parts and joints
- Light sensitivity
- Butterfly rash on cheeks and nose
- Hair loss
- Mouth and nose sores
CBD may help reduce inflammation and pain, the primary symptoms of lupus, through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body.
The ECS impacts the body’s immune response, regulating pain and inflammation. It also controls other bodily functions, like sleep , cognition, and metabolism (15 ) .
Endocannabinoids, like anandamide and 2-AG, act as neurotransmitters that activate cannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2. The ECS produces both of these endocannabinoids.
Anandamide has a direct correlation with CB1 receptors, with both of them functioning with the nervous system. Meanwhile, 2-AG and CB2 receptors are both associated with pain and inflammation relief (16 ) . 2-AG or 2-Arachidonoylglycerol is the endocannabinoid linked with pain relief, appetite, and mimics the function of THC (17 ) .
These two pairs working together create equilibrium, also known as homeostasis. This process links to how CBD can affect the processes in the body.
A 2018 study found that people with lupus have significantly increased levels of 2-AG, bound with CB2, compared to those who do not have the disorder.
The elevated 2-AG levels are evident in those who have the lowest disease activity. The findings suggest that the symptoms are under control, and the ECS is working effectively to suppress lupus (18 ) .
The results showed that cannabis might serve as an immune-modulating and regulating tool to maintain balance in an over- or under-reacting immune system (19 ) .
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation caused by lupus can target different parts of the body, including joints, hands, feet, and even heart, especially during flare-ups or increased disease activity (20 ) .
Researchers of a study published in the journal Future of Medicinal Chemistry discovered cannabinoids to be a potential lupus treatment because of its anti-inflammatory properties (21 ) .
Some lupus patients may develop lupus myositis or the inflammation of skeletal muscles. According to a 2017 study, about 2% of the patients diagnosed with lupus have myositis and are more likely to have other complications , such as skin rash and alopecia areata (22) .
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the hair follicles which results in hair loss and baldness.
CBD oil tinctures can treat skin rashes and other skin inflammation , like eczema , with a low level of cannabinoids (23 ) . The topical use of CBD ointments on skin inflammations is also regarded as a safe and effective treatment, as cited in a 2019 study (24 ) .
CBD for Pain Relief
A study showed that almost 100% of people suffering from lupus experience muscle and joint pain (25 ) . More than half of the people stated that joint pain was the first symptom they felt after developing lupus.
When a lupus patient’s joints are inflamed, the person is more likely to develop lupus arthritis if not addressed quickly.
Compared to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus arthritis is less painful and less destructive. However, if untreated, lupus arthritis can lead to worsening joint and cartilage function that then can lead to muscle atrophy or loss of muscle tissue (26 ) .
A 2018 study stated that chronic pain is the most common reason why people use cannabis for medical purposes (27 ) . This kind of pain includes neuropathic pain or nerve pain that targets the sensory system and is difficult to treat or locate.
Significant studies show the positive effects of cannabinoids in suppressing inflammatory and nerve pains in rodents (28 ) .
Based on a study conducted on rats with osteoarthritis, CBD may be safe and therapeutic for joint pain relief (29 ) . CBD experiments with animals as test subjects showed no signs and symptoms of harmful side effects. These experiments show a promising result for the potential treatment of pain on humans.
CBD for High Blood Pressure
People with lupus who are long-term steroid users may pose a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, like high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke (30 ) .
CBD has shown to have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system by widening blood vessels to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure (31 ) .
Blood pressure can increase due to anxiety and stress about the medical condition. Based on a study published in Medicine, about 25% of lupus patients have depression , while 37% have anxiety (32 ) .
High strength but moderate dosage of CBD can be an agent for relaxation for people suffering from anxiety-related disorders, such as panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (33 ) .
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Lupus
- Studies aforementioned showcased CBD’s benefits in alleviating common symptoms for lupus. CBD may be safer than most drugs prescribed that may have severe side effects.
- The Lupus Foundation of America expresses its support for further research on using medical cannabis in treating lupus symptoms (34 ) .
- CBD “is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile,” according to the World Health Organization (35 ) .
- CBD oil may be purchased over-the-counter in states and areas where they are legally available.
- Medical marijuana, cannabis plants used for treating illnesses and medical conditions, is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (36 ) .
- CBD is an immunosuppressant, based on a 2020 study published on Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research (37 ) . It means that CBD may weaken the immune response of the body , which may help people who have an overactive immune system . CBD also has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects and thus may act as an immune modulator
- Some medications may negatively react when used at the same time with CBD. The reaction can result in adverse drug events , like injury, overdose, and allergic reactions (38 ) . Consult with a doctor knowledgeable with medical marijuana before purchasing any CBD product.
- There are unregulated and unsafe CBD products that have unproven medical claims that can harm the user. FDA has been warning the public about particular claims (39 ) .
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Lupus
More than 50% of adults with lupus resort to complementary and alternative medicine as an addition or replacement to their prescribed medications (40 ) .
Complementary treatments are services or medications that are added to the current treatment to treat lupus. Meanwhile, alternative medicines are treatments or services that are used as substitutes for prescription drugs .
Complementary and alternative treatments include the following (41 ) :
- Traditional Chinese medicine , like acupuncture and Tai Chi
- Wellness programs , like massage therapy and meditation
- Herbal medicines and other supplements , like omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, and N-Acetyl Cysteine
- Homeopathy and naturopathy, which are natural approaches to holistic healing
- Chiropractic pain relief treatment to correct bone alignment problems by “cracking” the spine
- Ayurveda, which is a non-traditional treatment that originated in India
- Biofeedback, which uses electrical sensors connected to the body to measure the body’s overall well-being
Though some of the mentioned treatments promote well-being and are harmless, these non-conventional practices still need further clinical research and rigorous scientific testing.
Consult a physician first to know if a particular treatment has side effects or may induce a specific reaction to the current medication.
On the other hand, CBD is also considered complementary and alternative medicine with the following characteristics:
- Hemp oil from cannabis seed can be a source of essential amino and fatty acids. These include eighteen different chemicals , such as hydrocarbons, carbohydrates, and terpenes , known for their medicinal properties (42 ) .
- While there are no treatments for lupus, CBD may help manage lupus symptoms, like inflammation, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and anxiety (43 ) .
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Lupus
Choosing the right CBD oil for lupus requires knowing which spectrum works best for lupus.
For more significant healing effects and enhanced health benefits, pick the full-spectrum CBD oil. It includes phytonutrients from hemp, which are the natural chemicals produced by plants.
Full-spectrum CBD oils deliver the entourage effect. The synergy of the combined chemicals, including THC, is a powerful and potent effect.
The broad-spectrum CBD oil is suitable for those who are sensitive and prone to allergic reactions. It delivers results slightly similar to the full-spectrum oil minus the THC.
Making informed choices based on the usage and purpose should be the top priority in considering the right CBD oil for any ailment or condition.
Other reminders that one should keep in mind while choosing the right CBD oil are the following:
- Research thoroughly and ensure that a reputable supplier or source manufactures the product.
- Be familiar with medical marijuana laws in the area and make sure to abide by those.
- Read product reviews before buying online. Look at positive and negative reviews about the store and the products. When buying a product in-store, ask if the store is authorized by the state or municipality to sell CBD.
- Look for certification codes or a certificate of analysis to ensure that the product underwent quality control from an accredited laboratory (44 ) .
CBD Dosage for Lupus
There is no specific dosage recommended for lupus treatment since there is no FDA-approved CBD treatment for lupus. Keep in mind that every treatment differs from one lupus patient to another.
However, it is best to take small amounts of CBD or a CBD:THC ratio as an ideal and safe measurement. If dissatisfied with the results, the dosage can be gradually increased .
Observe and take note of any side effects that may occur. It is better to track the dosage and possible reactions, side effects, or improvements for later consultation with a trusted physician.
Ultimately, seek information first from a medical practitioner before adding any CBD medication to the prescribed medication.
How to Take CBD Oil for Lupus
CBD products come in different forms that can fit into a person’s lifestyle and condition.
The most common forms of CBD are oil and tincture. Both provide instant comfort and relief for pain and inflammation. The former can be used with vape, while the latter can be mixed with food .
Ingesting CBD oil can sometimes leave an oily taste. The tincture is more suitable for direct ingestion because it has a broad selection of flavors.
Topical CBD products , like creams, lotions, salves, and patches , work well with skin inflammations and body pain. Products like these can be applied directly to the skin. These products can treat skin rashes caused by lupus (45 ) .
The American Academy of Dermatology suggested that topical CBD products may improve skin conditions , such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema (46 ) .
Other CBD products also come in pills. Beginners can also explore other CBD products in the form of gummies , lozenges, and other food items , like brownies for convenient consumption.
The Legality of CBD Oil
Out of the 50 states of the United States, 33 allow the use of medical marijuana (47 ) .
Out of the 33, only four states have been vocal about their permission to use marijuana to treat lupus, namely Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois, and New Hampshire. Seven other states allow medical marijuana for lupus upon the recommendation of a physician.
Lupus is a life-changing autoimmune condition that has no cure. Every year records an estimated 16,000 new cases of lupus (48 ) .
Living as an immunocompromised person can be difficult. However, knowing the right type, right dosage, and the right way to take alternative treatments , like cannabinoids, may be a significant step towards a better life.
CBD can help alleviate lupus symptoms, such as inflammation and pain, hypertension, anxiety, skin infections, and photosensitivity.
Because of the side effects that come with certain drugs, people with lupus should engage in a conversation with their