Can Medical Marijuana Help People With Lyme Disease?
Ah, the Great Outdoors! Fresh clean air, freshly rolled blunt, sun gently caressing your face. Every step an adventure as you hike deeper into the woods.
But there is something small and fast stalking you through the grass and you better do something about it. Ticks love tall grass, all the better to hitch a ride on you, human. And ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to the tune of 300,000 new infections every year in the U.S.
The Borelia burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease and is carried by deer ticks. The disease is especially prevalent in the Northeastern U.S. though it occurs in half of the 3,110 counties in this country.
This bacterium has adaptive modes which make it difficult to detect, and therefore kill. It has a double membrane envelope and tends to hide in deep tissue. It can also change shapes to disguise its identity.
Left untreated, 60 percent of patients develop pain and swelling at joints after a few weeks. This pain can last for days or months and is known to move from one side to the other.
Stages of Infections
Initially, an infection may seem like the flu – fever; chills; swollen lymph nodes; fatigue; headaches; body aches, and stiffness especially of muscles and joints. Check the bite site. If there is a bulls-eye marking circling the bite, get thee to a doctor. This is early stage and antibiotics can help.
In the second stage of the disease, heart and nervous system problems can arise. Ten percent of sufferers will experience abnormal heart rhythms. A stiff neck and severe headaches may be an indicator of meningitis so visiting a doctor is highly advisable. Also, there may be abnormal sensations in limbs that can last days to months and shifts from one joint to another.
The third stage can result in motor and sensory nerve damage and brain inflammation. Studies have shown that Lyme disease patients have a higher rate of anxiety and depression. There’s also a host of possible symptoms such as changes in mood or sleeping pattern; difficulty concentrating; fatigue, and memory loss. Serious cognitive problems.
Cannabis and Lyme Disease
So where does medical marijuana fit into this miasma of symptoms? Most of this early research is based on anecdotal evidence and the reader is reminded that we are all different physiologically when it comes to drug sensitivity. ”Low and slow” is the way to go when first experimenting with cannabis.
Smoking is not the most efficient delivery system of all the healing chemicals in weed but it is useful for anti-nausea; some pain relief; mood stabilizing, and appetite stimulant. The best way to get the most benefit from marijuana is to eat it.
Cannabis oil is a concentrate from marijuana through an extraction process. It typically has a good balance of THC and CBD, which most experts agree work synergistically to achieve optimal effects.
THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound in weed that imparts that “high”, cerebrally stimulating quality. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the compound that has the muscle-relaxing, anti-seizure qualities.
Currently, CBD paste is being studied for its antibiotic characteristics by an unnamed university in the U.S. Anecdotally, cannabis is a virus, bacteria and fungi killer. All five major cannabinoids have been shown to kill MRSA, the highly infectious hospital-borne illness.
CBD is also great for latter stage symptoms as pain; spasms; nausea; headache, and peripheral neuropathy.
Medical Marijuana -- Useful Qualities
In Shelly White’s book, “Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions,” she enumerates the benefits of medical marijuana for chronic diseases.
- Marijuana molecules kill bacteria
- Cannaflavins, compounds found in most plant life, are 30 times more effective than aspirin as an anti-inflammatory
- THC also has medicinal qualities. Also an anti-inflammatory; anti-nausea; anti-epileptic; appetite stimulant; lowers blood pressure; anti-cancer; pain reliever and alleviates glaucoma eye pressure
- Stimulates dopamine and serotonin release that increases pain relief and improves outlook
- Decreases brain inflammation called Lyme encephalitis
- Prevents cell damage and known as a powerful anti-oxidant
- Improves anxiety and depression moods by activating serotonin receptors
- Muscle relaxant
- DNA protectant
- Effective for migraines; brain fog, and insomnia
- Symptom management for PTSD
White’s book is based on cannabis research done in other countries and anecdotal evidence. Obviously, much more research needs to be accomplished in this country to substantiate these claims.
Chronic Diseases and Florida’s Constitutional Amendment 2
Lyme disease is not listed as a qualifying condition for current medical marijuana use. But, Florida voters changed that with a “Yes” vote on Amendment 2, which expanded the class of patients eligible for medical cannabis. Physicians will also have the authority to recommend marijuana for other debilitating illnesses not enumerated in the amendment.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis oil, taken orally in tinctures; pills; drinks, and edibles could actually help the body heal from Lyme disease but the course of medications may be extensive, considering the seriousness of Lyme disease. So good luck in healing thyself with medical marijuana.