Before we go into whether using medical marijuana to ease the symptoms of Lupus has potential, we must understand what is Lupus and how it impacts the human condition. Lupus is a long term condition that affects different people in different ways. The common linking factors are skin inflammation and inflammation of internal organs.
Lupus is an auto-immune condition, so expect the symptoms and severity of the condition to varying from one patient to another. The condition causes the system which protects us against infection, the autoimmune system, to attack the body’s own tissue instead of defending it. A further complication is caused by the fact there are two main types of lupus as follows:
- Discoid Lupus
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
To categorise the two different types here, the former only affects the skin – it can be widespread, it can be patchy over the body or appear in only one or two patches on the skin.
The latter type (SLE) affects many areas of the body; in many cases, the effects can be quite severe. From here on in we will reflect upon the Lupus SLE condition, its causes, diagnosis, and treatments available.
It is still unclear why some people contract Lupus and others don’t; hence the unavailability of a cure as at the time of writing. It is considered to be a mix of factors which include but are not limited to:
As an example, when the immune system works as it is designed to work, it makes proteins called antibodies that fight infection. The more severe the infection, the harder the immune system works; it is partly responsible for fever and raised the temperature in a person when their body is fighting off infection or virus, or when helping the body to repair after surgery for example.
When a person is suffering from Lupus, the body produces auto-antibodies that are similar to antibodies, but instead of attacking the invader such as ‘flu or helping repair the injury, the auto-antibodies do the exact opposite and attack the body’s own tissues instead. Lupus isn’t contagious, so it cannot be passed from one person to another in the way a virus can be passed on.
Lupus is difficult to diagnose; the symptoms and effects vary from one person to another. Lupus is also very sneaky in that it presents symptoms that can resemble the symptoms of other health conditions. The earlier a person is diagnosed as having Lupus, the better are the chances of keeping the condition under control, by the early prescription of treatment.
Lupus can be diagnosed using a combination of physical examination and follow up blood tests. Medical professionals know how to diagnose Lupus or indeed rule it out. Treatment can then be
However, the earlier someone is diagnosed with lupus and treatment is started, the better their chances of successful treatment and control of the condition. A Lupus diagnosis is typically concluded based on a combination of patient’s symptoms, physical examination, and results of blood tests. If a patient is diagnosed as suffering from Lupus, treatment can be prescribed. Ongoing blood tests will be carried out to evaluate how the treatment is working and if changes need to be made to the on-going treatment.
Some of these tests are as follows:
- Anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody test
- Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) test
- Antiphospholipid antibody test
- Anti-Ro antibody test
- Liver & kidney function tests
- Blood cell counts
- Scans and X-rays
Early detection is essential so suitable treatment can be prescribed. The condition responds well to certain drugs, some more effective than others. Let’s take a look!
Depending on how advanced the condition, which parts of the body are affected will ultimately dictate the drugs which are prescribed and in what dosage. All drugs can potentially cause side effects, so a balance has to be struck. Controlling the symptoms of Lupus against causing side effects where other drugs may have to be introduced to control the side effects is a priority for health practitioners.
Drugs known as bisphosphonates, calcium, and vitamin D tablets can be prescribed to fight against the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis. Anti inflammatory medication can be prescribed to combat inflammation around the joints, much as they can be prescribed for the same symptoms in sufferers of rheumatism or arthritis.
What is also interesting is how medical marijuana is increasingly being prescribed as a treatment for Lupus. However, there are still many medical professionals who do not ascribe to such treatment so prescribing rates are low at the moment. Perhaps the reason for this is that more research is needed on the way in which medical marijuana works against Lupus as well as the long term effects of using such a controversial treatment.
At this time there is still much research to be carried out on the prescription and use of medical marijuana in the battle to fight the effects of the condition. What little research exploring cannabis as a treatment for Lupus is inconclusive but, there are positive signs that medical marijuana does help ease joint pain and inflammation in sufferers of rheumatism and arthritis.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest medical marijuana does have positive effects on shared symptoms of Lupus with other inflammatory disease and conditions. Drugs are important in helping control the symptoms of Lupus, but as with any health condition, a healthy diet is also essential. Long term research has shown conclusively that a healthy diet combined with regular exercise delivers positive effects for Lupus sufferers.
Lupus can be debilitating if left undiagnosed and untreated. However, if diagnosed it can be treated; symptoms are suppressed so the condition isn’t debilitating, and the sufferer can lead a normal life without the associated pain and discomfort. With more research and the understanding which comes from research, one day there may be a cure for this awful condition.