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Updated on January 14, 2024

CBD for Autoimmune Diseases

Fact Checked

Key takeaways

  • Autoimmune diseases affect one in every 10 Americans.
  • It is more common in women than in men.
  • Autoimmune diseases rank among the top 10 leading causes of death in women.
  • CBD provides an immune modulatory effect that can be useful in autoimmune diseases.
  • The balancing effect of CBD is excellent and reducing possible signs of autoimmune diseases.

What are autoimmune diseases?

Think of our immune system as a superhero that protects our body from harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses. It does this by recognizing the difference between our body's own cells (the good guys) and foreign invaders (the bad guys). Now, imagine if our immune system gets a bit confused and starts attacking our own cells, thinking they are the enemy. That's basically what happens in autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases can happen in different parts of the body leading to different types of the condition like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, and many others. Each autoimmune disease involves the immune system "misidentifying" a specific type of cell or tissue in the body as a threat.

Statistics show that autoimmune diseases are more common than you might think. In the United States alone, around 50 million people have one or more autoimmune diseases. What's interesting is that approximately 75 percent of those affected are women. It's not entirely clear why women are more susceptible, but researchers believe it may be related to hormonal and genetic factors.

Autoimmune diseases collectively rank among the top 10 leading causes of death in women under the age of 65. They can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. In fact, autoimmune disorders now impact about one in ten individuals worldwide.

What are the causes of autoimmune diseases?

Doctors aren't sure why the immune system sometimes goes haywire, causing autoimmune diseases. However, certain things can make some people more likely to get these diseases:

  1. Your Gender: If you're a girl or woman between 15 and 44 years old, you might be more prone to autoimmune diseases than guys.
  2. Family History: If your family has a history of autoimmune diseases, you might be at a higher risk. Genes you inherit from your family play a role, but other things in your environment can matter too.
  3. Environment: Things around you, like sunlight, mercury, chemicals (found in things like cleaning supplies or farming), cigarette smoke, and even certain infections like COVID-19, can raise your chances of getting an autoimmune disease.
  4. Ethnicity: Some autoimmune diseases are more common in certain groups of people. For example, muscle diseases might be more common in White people from Europe and the U.S., while lupus is often seen in African American, Hispanic, or Latino individuals.
  5. Nutrition: What you eat and the nutrients you get from your food can also affect your risk of autoimmune diseases.
  6. Other Health Conditions: If you have other health issues, like being overweight or having other autoimmune diseases, it might increase your likelihood of getting an autoimmune disease.

What are the common types of autoimmune diseases?

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Affects joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  2. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or Lupus): Can affect various organs, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain.
  3. Type 1 Diabetes: Targets the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, leading to insulin deficiency.
  4. Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Affects the central nervous system, leading to communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
  5. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Targets the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism.
  6. Graves' Disease: Affects the thyroid gland, causing hyperthyroidism.
  7. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Includes conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, affecting the digestive tract.
  8. Psoriasis: Causes the rapid buildup of skin cells, leading to patches of red, itchy, and scaly skin.
  9. Celiac Disease: Damages the small intestine in response to gluten consumption.
  10. Sjögren's Syndrome: Affects moisture-producing glands, leading to symptoms such as dry eyes and mouth.
  11. Ankylosing Spondylitis: Primarily impacts the spine, causing inflammation and stiffness.
  12. Vitiligo: Results in the loss of skin color in patches.
  13. Pernicious Anemia: Affects the stomach, preventing the absorption of vitamin B12.
  14. Addison's Disease: Targets the adrenal glands, leading to insufficient production of hormones.
  15. Myasthenia Gravis: Affects the muscles, causing weakness and fatigue.

What are the common symptoms of autoimmune diseases?

Although the symptoms may vary from one autoimmune disease to the other, the most common symptoms are listed below;

  1. dizziness or lightheadedness
  2. fatigue
  3. hair loss
  4. low grade fever
  5. muscle aches
  6. numbness and tingling in your hands and feet
  7. skin rash
  8. swelling
  9. trouble concentrating

What are benefits of CBD to people with autoimmune disorders?

While autoimmune diseases is a general term used to describe an imbalanced immune system,

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

CBD is known for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. Its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is key, as the ECS regulates various physiological processes, including inflammation. CBD influences this system, particularly by modulating CB2 receptors associated with the immune system. By doing so, CBD may inhibit the production of inflammatory molecules, helping to regulate the body's natural response to injury or infection.

In addition, CBD possesses antioxidant properties, aiding in the reduction of oxidative stress associated with inflammation. By neutralizing harmful free radicals, CBD may help alleviate the damage caused by oxidative stress, further contributing to its anti-inflammatory effects.

  1. Immunomodulation:

CBD also plays a critical role in modulating the immune response, preventing it from overreacting and causing excessive or prolonged inflammation. The compound's ability to interact with specific receptors and balance the immune response contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties.

  1. Pain and Symptom Management

Individuals with autoimmune diseases often experience pain, and CBD's potential analgesic (pain-relieving) effects may provide relief. Additionally, some people report improvements in symptoms such as fatigue and sleep disturbances.

  1. Neuroprotective Effects

CBD's neuroprotective properties can be relevant in autoimmune diseases that affect the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis.

Are there any side effects?

There are no side effects linked to the use of pure CBD for autoimmune diseases. Pure CBD contains zero pesticides and additives thus making it safe for use. Although a few individuals may show varied side effects like dizziness, and nausea, these are mild and may likely disappear in a short time.
CBD is generally safe since it triggers our bodies to heal itself. Unlike other medications that manage symptoms, CBD addresses the problem from the root and offers relief.

Frequently asked Questions

Are there specific CBD products recommended for autoimmune diseases?

CBD comes in various forms, including oils, capsules, edibles, and topicals. The choice of product depends on personal preference and the symptoms you're looking to address. For example, topical CBD products may be suitable for localized symptoms, while oral products provide a more systemic effect. It's essential to choose reputable products and brands.

Can I use CBD for autoimmune diseases in children or older adults

Yes as long as it is verified pure CBD from a reputable company. This is because majority of marketed CBD products are highly contaminated with pesticides and toxic metals that can worsen your symptoms.

How long does it take for CBD to show effects on autoimmune symptoms?

The time it takes for CBD to produce noticeable effects can vary from 5 minutes to several hours. Factors such as the method of consumption, the severity of symptoms, and individual responses influence the timeline. Some individuals may experience relief relatively quickly, while others may need more time.

Can I get addicted to CBD?

No, you can’t get addicted to CBD because it does not produce the usual high associated with THC.

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Sources

artini, Stefano, Alessandra Gemma, Marco Ferrari, Marco Cosentino, and Franca Marino. 2023. "Effects of Cannabidiol on Innate Immunity: Experimental Evidence and Clinical Relevance" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 24, no. 4: 3125. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24043125

Giorgi V, Marotto D, Batticciotto A, Atzeni F, Bongiovanni S, Sarzi-Puttini P. Cannabis and Autoimmunity: Possible Mechanisms of Action. Immunotargets Ther. 2021 Jul 21;10:261-271. doi: 10.2147/ITT.S267905. PMID: 34322454; PMCID: PMC8313508.

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