CBD for autoimmune diseases has been a hot topic in the last few years. A lot of people will ask me if I think that it is beneficial for autoimmune diseases, and my general answer is: it depends. Several of the recent studies and clinical experience shows that CBD can be useful for a lot of things related to autoimmunity: pain, swelling, overall malaise. Even the arthritis foundation recently provided guidelines for CBD use for arthritis as it can be very helpful for those with limited joint mobility.
How CBD Works
CBD has a lot of practical applications for autoimmune diseases. It works through what is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS contains receptors that are all over the body: muscles, skin, nervous system, GI tract…etc. There are a lot of things that work within the ECS, and CBD is only one of them. THC is another. THC is the active compound in marijuana that makes us feel “high.” But CBD is NOT THC. While both are present in the marijuana plant, CBD does not have the same intoxicating effects that THC does.
As opposed to THC, CBD reacts more to ECS receptors that are found in the immune system and blood cells. The reason that it is so good for pain is that it helps reduce inflammation through suppressing the immune system. If the pain is not inflammatory, it is unlikely that it will help.
Oral CBD is also thought to reduce antibodies in certain diseases. Some people have seen reductions in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. But due to it’s immune cell suppression, it should be used in caution with those that have a weak immune system such as in HIV or some cancers.
CBD Side Effects
CBD usually has minimal side effects in people. One of its main side effects is that it changes the metabolism of certain drugs. Some drugs do not break down as well when they are taken at the same time. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor about whether or not oral CBD is interfering with your other medications or supplements.
CBD should also be used with caution in pregnant women. Some studies have shown that using it in early pregnancy can increase the risk if miscarriage in the first trimester.
How do you know if it’s right for you?
Well what I tell most of my patient is: Try it. It has minimal side effects and has the potential to have great benefit in people. What I find with most of my patients is that it either works REALLY well, or it doesn’t at all. And you should know within the first week of using it, if you are using it for external symptoms like pain or swelling.
If you are looking to see if it lowers your antibodies, it is best to use oral CBD for at least 3 consecutive months. Testing antibodies before and after starting it can help you figure out if it’s helping or not.
How to Choose a Good Product
In general, most physicians agree that using a product that is labeled “full-spectrum” is better. This means it contains all other phytocannabinoids that may provide benefit when taken together. Also – finding companies that have verified amounts of CBD in their products will also ensure that you are getting the right amounts. Companies such as Charlotte’s Web and CV Sciences are reputable sources.
In general, oral CBD should be used if you are looking for a more whole body effect. These are best for lowering antibodies, or helping with generalized inflammation. Topical CBD is much better for pain and swelling in a certain area. You can target the application to just that area.
If you are unsure about where to get a good product, or which dosage to use, this is a great conversation to have with your doctor. While there are minimal side effects, it is always a good idea to check with your primary care doctor to get more information about it. If you have questions about how it can be helpful for autoimmune diseases, contact our office today and connect with one of our knowledgeable physicians.