Though CBD products may help relieve joint pain, inflammation, and other lupus symptoms, it’s important to remember that CBD has not been widely tested as a lupus treatment. When it comes to CBD for lupus, the effective dosage may vary from one person to another. In fact, there is no standard dosage for cannabis, so you may need to try different doses anyway.
Because lupus is a complex condition, treatment varies. Depending on the patient’s symptoms and the organs involved, more than one therapy may be required to help manage the condition. Treatment requirements may change over time as well, depending on how the disease progresses. Many people with lupus experience a normal lifespan but may have some level of disability.
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CBD Dosage for Lupus
If you’re just getting started you may want to start with a lower concentration and work your way up to a higher dose once you see how your body reacts. Keep an eye out for side effects  like drowsiness, diarrhea, or changes in appetite, and be sure to double-check with your doctor if you’re taking other medications.
In fact, a 2014 review revealed that as many as 50% of lupus patients  with SLE have utilized complementary and alternative treatments to manage their condition. Some of the therapies mentioned in the review include natural remedies, breathing exercises, meditation, and chiropractic treatment as well as dietary supplements. Some lupus patients may even use CBD.
The Lineup At A Glance
Though lupus affects each patient differently, pain is a common symptom. According to the National Resource Center on Lupus, more than 90% of people  with lupus will experience joint or muscle pain at some point over the course of their illness. In fact, more than half  of those who develop lupus mention joint pain as their first symptom. When it comes to lupus pain, inflammation is certainly a contributing factor.
The medical community does not entirely understand this condition, but what we do know is that it results in systemic inflammation, which in turn leads to many symptoms. There are medications that may help control lupus symptoms, but many have harsh side effects.
People with lupus suffer greatly, and one person describes his experience like this:
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Prescription drugs like prednisone, which is a steroid, are common for lupus and other autoimmune disorders. These medications suppress the immune system and, therefore, reduce inflammation. Long-term steroid use has numerous side effects, including high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of infections.
CBD has been studied for its ability to decrease the release of inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha. These two cytokines create an inflammatory cascade in the body, which can lead to several symptoms in the body, including joint pain and damage to blood vessels.
To date, there has been minimal research on CBD and lupus. What we do know is lupus symptoms are caused by inflammation, and CBD has been shown in research to lower the levels of inflammation in the body for many people. In addition, research supports that CBD can help manage different types of joint pain.
In 2018, Dr. Koumpouras joined a multi-site randomized clinical trial that aims to recruit 100 participants to examine whether a drug using a synthetically created cannabinoid molecule that binds preferentially to CB2 receptors (called Lenabasum) can help ease pain and inflammation in patients with lupus. Participants will receive Lenabasum or a placebo for almost three months and will continue to be monitored for pain and inflammation levels, as well as lupus disease activity. The study is ongoing, but Dr. Koumpouras anticipates that it will wrap up by early next year.
Fotios Koumpouras, MD, is researching a synthetically created cannabinoid molecule that binds preferentially to CB2 receptors (called Lenabasum) to see if it can help ease pain and inflammation in patients with lupus.
CBD is a form of cannabinoid called “cannabidiol.” Cannabinoids are a type of chemical that binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the body. CB1 receptors are mostly located in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system, along with the spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands, and reproductive organs. (Collectively this is called the endocannabinoid system.)
What is CBD?
This is why he’s exploring a candidate for a new lupus treatment option: a molecule with a cannabinoid template structure that binds to cannabinoid receptors, the same receptors involved in the chemicals found in the marijuana plant.
But whether CBD actually provides those benefits in a significant way remains to be seen. Only a few studies—small ones—have definitively proven the effectiveness of medicines that involve the endocannabinoid system. To date, the only FDA-approved medication containing CBD is Epidiolex, a medication used to treat two rare forms of severe epilepsy—Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, both which begin mostly in infancy and early childhood. In a group of three clinical trials, Epidiolex seemed to reduce the number of seizures significantly. And yet, Vinita Knight, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric neurologist, says her patients who take Epidiolex have had mixed results. Some have had reductions in seizures and others haven’t shown much improvement. “We’re not seeing as much success as what’s been reported on Facebook and Twitter,” she says, but adds that so far it has only been prescribed for children with the most debilitating and difficult-to-treat seizures. In addition, some researchers believe that CBD works most effectively in combination with other cannabinoids and compounds found in the marijuana plant, in what is known as the “entourage effect.” Thus, it would be less effective as an isolated chemical in pill form, but that, too, remains unproven.
A lupus diagnosis can be devastating. The disease causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and can affect internal organs—including the brain, heart, and lungs—which can start to deteriorate. Lupus flare-ups can leave patients so fatigued and in pain that they’re unable to do the simplest of things, such as walk, cook, or read. Many can’t go outdoors without layers of sunscreen, because the disease can make them extremely susceptible to sunburn.
His research is one of many new studies at Yale and elsewhere looking at the endocannabinoid system and molecules related to CBD action for use in treating everything from Crohn’s disease to psoriatic arthritis, and he hopes that this new data will be used to help paint a more complete picture about the chemical for future treatment options.