Systemic Lupus Erythromatosis (SLE or Lupus, for short) is a type of autoimmune disease that affects roughly five million people across the globe. An autoimmune disease occurs when a person’s immune system attacks their body instead of an infection, causing damage to otherwise healthy cells. Like other chronic autoimmune diseases, lupus is not contagious; it is impossible for those with lupus to transfer the disease to another person.

A variety of options exist for the treatment of lupus, and it is important that those with lupus work closely with their doctors to best manage their condition, as symptoms can widely vary from person to person. Flare-ups, or periods of time in which symptoms of lupus are especially severe, are common. Those with lupus know firsthand how painful a flare up can be, but with the right treatment, it is possible for those with lupus to effectively manage their condition and live relatively normal lives. It is crucial that those with lupus stick to their treatment plan established by their physician. However, many have reported that using medical marijuana alongside their conventional medications has greatly helped in alleviating pain, inflammation, and other symptoms brought on by lupus. Keep reading from Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler to see how incorporating medical marijuana into your treatment plan may help relieve your lupus symptoms.

How Is Lupus Diagnosed?

Lupus can be a challenge to diagnose.  Those who believe they may have lupus should consult with their doctor to confirm diagnosis and set up a treatment plan. Many signs of lupus are similar to symptoms of other conditions. Often, but not always, those with lupus will develop a rash that appears across their face in the shape of a butterfly. Other symptoms of lupus include joint pain and stiffness, ulcers, fever, sensitivity to cold, and chronic fatigue. Those with lupus may also develop lesions along the skin that worsen with exposure to the sun.

To diagnose lupus, your physician will evaluate your physical symptoms and likely conduct a variety of blood and urine tests to evaluate your kidney and liver functions. Your doctor may also suggest taking a variety of other tests to check your lung, heart, and other organ functions, as well.

How Is Lupus and Its Symptoms Commonly Treated?

Although lupus is not related to cancer, immunosuppressants like methotrexate (Trexall), which is often used by those undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer, may also be used by those with lupus. In general, immunosuppressives are only used in severe cases of lupus. Corticosteroids like prednisone are more commonly prescribed to treat inflammation associated with lupus. Antimalarials like hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), which are often used to treat malaria, may also be prescribed to decrease the risk of lupus flare-ups. People with lupus may also take other non-prescription medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, and NSAIDS like ibuprofen (advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) for additional relief.

The Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Lupus

It is possible to complement your lupus treatment plan with medical marijuana for chronic illness. Although cannabis has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat lupus or any other medical condition (CBD has, however, been approved to treat children with seizure disorders), many with lupus have found that using cannabis greatly helps alleviate their symptoms, especially pain, arthritis, and other types of inflammation associated with the disease. In fact, the Lupus Foundation of America has issued a statement supporting future research into cannabis’ safety and efficacy in those with the disease, citing its ability to alleviate pain and inflammation, as well as help treat other diseases that affect the immune system, like HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis (MS).

THC vs. THC-A

THC has been used for hundreds of years for the treatment of pain and has over 60 years of conclusive evidence to support its use for pain management. The 2017 report from the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) stated that there was “conclusive evidence” to support the use of cannabis for managing pain. Unlike CBD, THC is not broken down in the same way as CBD in the liver, making it a far safer option for those who take many medications to manage their lupus symptoms.

THC-A, which is not the same as THC, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and may be used to actually treat the underlying auto-immune disease of Lupus. THC-A is actually the most abundant cannabinoid found in raw cannabis — THC-A only converts to THC after it is heated up, undergoing a process known as decarboxylation. Unless decarboxylation occurs, cannabinoid acids like THC-A cannot activate the CB1 receptors in our brains. This means that THC-A is non-intoxicating when taken alone, and may be perfect for those who cannot tolerate the side effects of THC.

Consult With a Medical Cannabis Doctor for Your Lupus Diagnosis

Those who are considering using THC, THC-A, or any derivative of cannabis alongside their current treatment plan for lupus should consult with a Boston medical marijuana physician who has experience helping patients with lupus use medical marijuana. I have spent years assisting patients with lupus and similar conditions with cannabis, and can help you determine if medical marijuana is right for you. For more information, or to set up a consultation with my team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 861-8519 today.