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Autoimmune, Inflammation, and Cannabis

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Let’s talk about the Immune system, yes the thing that we blame if we get sick all the time, or if we have a weak stomach, or if we have a cold, or if we have a disease that we thought would never happen to us. Yes, the Immune system gets blamed for so many things, truth be told there are things we can do to help strengthen it…but let’s not get into that just yet. Let’s talk a little more about the immune system and what happens, and why we get so sick. 

Living in today’s world we have a plethora of diseases, guess what…they all are autoimmune diseases! Our immune system comes with a whole army of defense mechanisms ready to fight any intruders at any moment, but what happens when it sends too many soldiers to fight and protect, or when our cells multiply too rapidly? 

An autoimmune disease, is the result of the immune system mistaking part of your body — like your joints or skin — as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells (healthline). WebMD states, treatment for autoimmune diseases generally focuses on reducing immune system activity.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system produces antibodies that attach to the linings of joints. Immune system cells then attack the joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. If untreated, rheumatoid arthritis causesgradually causes permanent joint damageTreatments for rheumatoid arthritis can include various oral or injectable medications that reduce immune system over activity.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). People with lupus develop autoimmune antibodies that can attach to tissues throughout the body. The joints, lungsblood cells, nerves, and kidneys are commonly affected in lupus. Treatment often requires daily oral prednisone, a steroid that reduces immune system function.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines, causing episodes of diarrhearectal bleeding, urgent bowel movementsabdominal pain, fever, and weight lossUlcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two major forms of IBD. Oral and injected immune-suppressing medicines can treat IBD.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS). The immune system attacks nerve cells, causing symptoms that can include pain, blindness, weakness, poor coordination, and muscle spasms. Various medicines that suppress the immune system can be used to treat multiple sclerosis.
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Immune system antibodies attack and destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. By young adulthood, people with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections to survive.
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome. The immune system attacks the nerves controlling muscles in the legs and sometimes the arms and upper body. Weakness results, which can sometimes be severe. Filtering the blood with a procedure called plasmapheresis is the main treatment for Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Similar to Guillian-Barre, the immune system also attacks the nerves in CIDP, but symptoms last much longer. About 30% of patients can become confined to a wheelchair if not diagnosed and treated early. Treatment for CIDP and GBS are essentially the same.
  • Psoriasis. In psoriasis, overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect in the skin. The immune system activity stimulates skin cells to reproduce rapidly, producing silvery, scaly plaques on the skin.
  • Graves’ disease. The immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to release excess amounts of thyroid hormone into the blood (hyperthyroidism). Symptoms of Graves’ disease can include bulging eyes as well as weight loss, nervousness, irritability, rapid heart rate, weakness, and brittle hair. Destruction or removal of the thyroidgland, using medicines or surgery, is usually required to treat Graves’ disease.
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Antibodies produced by the immune system attack the thyroid gland, slowly destroying the cells that produce thyroid hormone. Low levels of thyroid hormone develop (hypothyroidism), usually over months to years. Symptoms include fatigueconstipationweight gain, depressiondry skin, and sensitivity to cold. Taking a daily oral synthetic thyroid hormone pill restores normal body functions.
  • Myasthenia gravis. Antibodies bind to nerves and make them unable to stimulate muscles properly. Weakness that gets worse with activity is the main symptom of myasthenia gravis. Mestinon (pyridostigmine) is the main medicine used to treat myasthenia gravis.
  • Vasculitis. The immune system attacks and damages blood vessels in this group of autoimmune diseases. Vasculitis can affect any organ, so symptoms vary widely and can occur almost anywhere in the body. Treatment includes reducing immune system activity, usually with prednisone or another corticosteroid.

You might be wondering…what does this all mean!? If you are, good, at least I have peaked your interest! What I’m saying is the diseases that we have today are autoimmune disorders, caused by inflammation. The thing is, doctors are not sure of the exact cause of autoimmune diseases, but as with most things there are many speculations, and since this is my blog I am going to tell you what I believe and what many doctors and scientist have speculated. We are in a constant state of fight or flight causes our systems to be in a constant state of on edge, stress! Our systems are overloaded with information, we are constantly on the go, not to mention…the food we eat and our surroundings. Our food is genetically enhanced…we are not getting the organic un-altered nutrition our cells need to reproduce a strong cellular structure…Basically, we are not getting everything we need to be healthy and stay that way, and the stress of our fast paced world is not helping anything.

Our bodies are in a constant state of inflammation due to our immune systems attempting to bring them back to homeostasis. Now, luckily for us science has made some brilliant discoveries! There’s a little something called, THC and CBD, something this author enthusiastically advocates for especially when it comes to the health benefits.

Here’s just a little reminder about CBD and THC from Medical Marijuana, Inc:

CBD and THC are the two most abundant of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. They both interact with the endocannabinoid system but elicit different natural effects.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in Cannabis, the plant genus that includes both hemp and marijuana. While there are over 100 different cannabinoids so far identified in cannabis by scientists, CBD and THC are by far the most extensively studied and best understood.

CBD and THC both interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system, a vital signaling system responsible for regulating a wide array of functions. The best way I can explain this, think of the endocannabinoid system as the general of all your cells sending just the right amount of troupes to the right area. Imagine, only sending what is needed to the right areas, this in its self reduces inflammation…if there isn’t an influx of cells the area doesn’t get as crowded meaning not as much swelling. CBD and THC both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system and its specialized cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. It is through these interactions that these two cannabinoids augment the endocannabinoid system and encourage balance. When something is not crowding the area the other cells can function as they are meant to, not pressing on nerve receptors causing pain, not blocking pathways for nerves to move (which can cause Alzheimer’s), not causing inflammation in our organs so our digestive system works smoothly and this is just to name a few things. Bottom line, CBD and THC or cannabis when introduced to our systems can help our bodies to heal themselves! 

Written by: Kelly Reinholtz

Sources:

Autoimmune Diseases: Types, Symptoms, Causes and More. Stephanie Watson. 2017. Healthline Newsletter. https://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders#bottom-line

What Are Autoimmune Disorders. Jennifer Robinson, 2018. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/autoimmune-diseases

What are the differences between CBD and THC? Eve Ripley, 2018. https://news.medicalmarijuanainc.com/differences-cbd-thc/

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