When the body’s immune system becomes overactive, problems begin to occur resulting in a range of what are called autoimmune conditions (or autoimmune disease). When an autoimmune reaction occurs, antibodies and immune cells target the system’s own healthy tissues, accidentally signaling the body to attack itself, in almost any part of the body from the brain, nerves, heart, skin, muscles, joints, eyes, kidneys, lungs and glands, to the digestive tract and blood vessels. Imagine the national guard, turning on its citizens, and instead of protecting them, they began systematically attacking the country one town at a time, destabilizing the entire country as a whole. This is essentially what happens with autoimmune conditions; the organism mistakenly turns on itself in error. We need cannabinoids like CBD to step in and bring things back into balance.
Autoimmunity typically causes inflammation, with the main site depending on what part of the body is being targeted. Occasionally, the inflammation manifests in several locations across the organism leading to wide-spread chronic inflammation. The exact cause of autoimmune conditions is unknown and is likely a combination of factors, both genetic and exogenous (lifestyle, chemical exposure, lack of exercise, stress, traumas etc.) Common autoimmune conditions include celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and lupus erythematosus. Lyme disease, an inflammatory disorder caused by a tick bite, can cause very serious autoimmune symptoms.
Research has proven cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) to be very effective in treating disorders that involve an over activation of the immune response and the associated oxidative stress.  The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex molecular system responsible for maintaining homeostasis (balance) across all other bodily systems from the reproductive and cardiovascular, to the immune system. When the ECS becomes overwhelmed, it can fall into a state of disorder, resulting in other systems falling to the same fate. It’s cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2, are found on the cells of the immune system. Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, trigger these receptors, which stimulates a process known as immunoregulation, thereby regulating normal cellular functioning through down-regulating cytokine and chemokine production, and up-regulating t-regulatory cells. Cannabinoids can also assist with the pain caused by chronic autoimmune diseases, not only through their potent analgesic properties, but also through reducing the inflammation that often causes the pain. Both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which have been found to be involved in the mediation of pain associated with inflammation. 
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Prior to making changes to your lifestyle, medications, or treatment plan, consult with your health care practitioner. It is recommended that those who are wishing to utilize CBD or medicinal cannabis do so with the guidance of a doctor experienced in prescribing cannabis products so the dosage and delivery method may be optimized for that person. At the same time, those who are aware and educated can become their own highly informed health consultants.
It is a challenge to generalize CBD or cannabis dosages for chronic autoimmune conditions, as they affect the person in such a variety of ways, but a baseline dose (micro to standard) of cannabidiol (CBD) can assist in reducing inflammation and addressing the immune hyper response. As always with cannabis or CBD, start low and slow, titrating your way up, testing for sensitivity, going up as needed until symptoms subside. As the saying goes with cannabis, you can always take more, but you can’t take less.
For more immediate relief of symptoms, oromucosal sprays and sublingual drops work well, along with vaporizing high-CBD oil concentrates without additives. The effect of these options is immediate and lasts one to three hours, however, if you take ingestible products, they typically take thirty to sixty minutes before taking effect (slightly faster on an empty stomach) and can last up to six to eight hours. Vaporizers that are using a cartridge filled CO2 concentrate can be very effective, and these usually are available in a variety of ratios of CBD to THC. Herbal vaporizers that utilize the entire plant are another effective method of delivery. Full spectrum CBD hemp products are also proving advantageous with their anti-inflammatory compounds, CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBN, present. The side effects of CBD products are relatively low, with many people across the United States and world finding the non-psychoactive activity to be valuable in assisting with sleep disorders, anxiety, pain management and many other debilitating conditions.
The Cannabis Health Index is a scoring system based on the current available medical literature. The treatment of autoimmune conditions with cannabis was generally not scored, but some specific diseases included in this category were scored individually. Graves disease scored in the probable-to-demonstrable range of efficacy. Crohn’s disease rated as likely probable, and diabetes scored in the possible-to-probable range. For more detailed information scores on how cannabis can assist with specific autoimmune conditions, see our other articles on inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, inflammation, neuropathy, and general chronic pain.
A 2014 study by the University of South Carolina found that the suppression of immune response by THC could be a valuable option for those suffering with an autoimmune disease. Cannabinoids have the ability to suppress inflammation and change critical histones by activating the cannabinoid receptors, CB2, on immune cells. Although this study only looks at THC, CBD is well known for assisting the immune system. It’s thought that CBD works through improving the ability of the immune system to recognize the difference between normal internal functions and foreign entities, preventing the body from attacking itself. 
In one study, neurologist and researcher Dr Ethan Russo, along with his team of scientists, discovered that there is sufficient evidence to support the finding of a “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency” as the cause of the autoimmune condition, fibromyalgia, and potentially other autoimmune disorders. This was later backed up by subsequent research published in medical journals. 
A “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency” becomes easier to understand when we acknowledge the presence of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is first seen to develop at 8-weeks gestation, and the natural cannabinoids it produces inside the body are found in breast milk, supporting the healthy development of the baby. The ECS is a molecular system that manages every other major system in the body. If we are experiencing disorder in the body, it is highly likely that our ECS has become overwhelmed, and thus, has fallen into a state of disorder itself, unable to provide support to the other bodily systems, eventually resulting in a cascade of debilitating chronic conditions.
The solution is to provide the body with enough cannabinoids to nourish the ECS back to full health, or activate a dormant sleeping endocannabinoid system, so it can balance and regulate internal physiological and neurological functioning. That would make cannabinoids the best "vitamin" for autoimmunity, however, technically speaking, cannabinoids are a different form of compounds than vitamins, called terpenes.
You'll learn more about the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD over on our blog, and if you would like to learn more about how the cannabinoids found in hemp can assist with specific autoimmune diseases, be sure to click the side links found in this article.
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