This month's co-author is our Palm Desert RN, Ruth Hill, who breaks down the effects of cannabinoids on autoimmune disease (AD).
Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s hyperactive immune system mistakes its own cells for a foreign invader. A healthy immune system fights pathogens by creating special proteins called antibodies. Once a cell is tagged with an antibody, specific killer T-cells do the dirty work of destroying and mopping up the foreign invader cells. The body produces antibodies in response to specific organ tissues causing chronic inflammation. In autoimmune disease, the mechanism for turning off this response quits functioning, and the body ends up turning on itself. This is similar to the proliferation of abnormal cells that develop into cancer.
There are more than 100 AD conditions, striking over 50 million Americans. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has estimated that the annual direct health care costs for AD are nearly USD $100 billion. A great resource for AD is www.aarda.org. Some of the most common AD diseases are: rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, celiac disease, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Research into medical cannabis verifies that cannabis can alter specific molecules called histones which control gene expression. Delta 9 THC effects histones in a way that suppresses inflammation. Normally, our ECS, or endocannabinoid system synthesizes Anandamide (AEA) & 2AG to modulate CB1 and CB2 receptors. When we don’t create enough of our own, phytocannabinoids from cannabis mimic AEA & 2AG to downregulate inflammatory proteins called cytokines. In 2008, researchers found non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) caused levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines to decrease, while levels of anti-inflammatory proteins increased. The immune response was briefly corrected by the CBD.
Professor David Meiri, a researcher at the Technion Institute, Haifa, Israel focuses on matching cannabis extracts that regulate/modulate immune function. He analyzes the metabolites present within the cannabis plants and their specific chemical composition. Research on Crohn’s, diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and dementia show that patients over express CB1 and CB2 receptors, seeking cannabinoids to balance responses. Someday a person with autoimmune disease may be able to request a specific strain of cannabis to manage their symptoms.
To further reduce inflammation, patients should eat an anti-inflammatory diet including: olive oil, tomatoes, green leafy spinach and kale, almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges. Be sure to couple that with movement, stretching, toning, and walking as much as tolerated to maintain strength and flexibility. And as always, connect with friends & family and breathe.
If you or a friend have an autoimmune disease and need professional guidance on the use of medicinal cannabis visit www.HolisticCaring.comand schedule an appointment for a consultation. Ruth A Hill can be reached at [email protected]
Blessings for health, Elisabeth Mack, RN, MBA