Cannabis and Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune diseases are diseases where the your immune system attacks your own body. Usually, the immune system recognizes the difference between foreign invaders (pathogens such as bacteria and viruses). Approximately 8% of Americans have an autoimmune disorder of some sort. When a person has an autoimmune condition, however, their body’s antibodies sees parts of their own body as foreign and starts attacking them. Examples include:

  • Type 1 Diabetes, which damages the pancreas and its ability to produce insulin
    Lupus, which affects the whole body
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which damages the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells
    Some IBDs mimic some of the symptoms of autoimmune disorders, and some IBDs such as diversion colitis are autoimmune disorders
  • Psoriasis, a genetic disease where antibodies target the skin
  • Arthritis, where antibodies attack the joints

Genetics, environmental factors (e.g. exposure to radiation or chemicals) and diet are thought to be the main causes of various autoimmune disorders. Some, like MS, run in the family, whereas others may have other triggers. As there is a rising incidence of autoimmune disorders in the western world, some postulate that there might be environmental factors involved.

Value of Medical Marijuana

Depending on condition, medical marijuana could be useful for a number of conditions that fall under the umbrella of “autoimmune diseases”. Both THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory effects, and many of cannabis’s terpenoids do as well (on top of their stress-busting and pain killing or “distracting” properties). 128 out of 4,276 (2.99%) of patients surveyed use cannabis for autoimmune-related conditions.




Indicas were preferred by 28.13% of autoimmune patients surveyed. 16.41% preferred sativas, and 14.06% hybrids. Indicas may be preferred for their tendency to produce more CBD, which may help due to its anti-inflammatory purposes.

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