Can Medical Marijuana Be Used To Treat Autoimmune Disorders

December 19, 2019

The use of marijuana in medical care has sparked debates on its efficacy which has seen several states and governments give divided opinions on its certification. However, marijuana doctors designate that the herb shows promising evidence in the treatment of many ailments; the latest development being the use of the herb component in treating autoimmune disorders. The herb indicates significant modulatory, inflammatory benefits and relieving the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs in the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is an extract of the marijuana plant which contains more than 100 different cannabinoid chemicals, however, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine (Lava 2018). The herbal medicine is used for treating pain, nausea, muscle spasms, anxiety, sleep problems autism and epilepsy according to Oberg (2019). Medically, the Cannabinoids component of the herb which is the most active chemical is suggested by marijuana doctors to be effective in reducing anxiety, reducing inflammation and relieving pain, controlling nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy patients, killing cancerous cells and inhibiting their growth, relaxing muscles in Multiple Sclerosis patients and stimulating appetite and improving weight gain in cancer and AIDS patients. 

What are Autoimmune disorders?

Autoimmune disorders are caused by overactivity of the immune system where the body attacks and damages its tissues (Robinson 2018) by producing antibodies that rather than destroying infectious pathogens attacks the body tissues in response to unknown triggers. The body blood cells present in the immune system help protect the body from harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancerous cells; these pathogens contain antigens that are counteracted by antibodies produced by the body. An autoimmune response occurs when the immune system fails to distinguish the healthy tissues and the harmful antigens which results in the body releasing reactions destroying normal and healthy tissues. The most affected areas of the body by an autoimmune response are blood vessels, connective tissues, endocrine glands, joints, muscles, red blood cells, and the skin. Some of the autoimmune disorders include Addison disease, Celiac disease, Dermatomyositis, Graves disease, Hashimoto thyroiditis, Multiple sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, Pernicious anemia, Rheumatoid and Reactive arthritis, Sjogren syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Medical Marijuana in the Treatment of Autoimmune Disorders 

The Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) chemical compounds present in the medical herb are useful in easing neurological disorders, fighting cancer, calming inflammation and swelling and combating autoimmune diseases. Rosado (2019), asserts that THC influences microRNAs; single-stranded, small, non-coding RNAs which are significant in regulating the expression of genes. Marijuana doctors have found validating results indicating that marijuana can change the expression of microRNA which is essential in the treatment of autoimmune disease. The chemical compounds present outside the DNS called epigenomes that attach to the DNA hence altering how body cells receive instructions from the DNA have been found to be substantially suppressed by THC compound. According to Khal, the currently used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have potential side effects such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, kidney disorders, headaches, and dizziness. Relative to the NSAIDs, the immunodepressant drugs used in treating autoimmune disorders also have side effects such as the risk of infection, nausea, vomiting and appetite loss (Khal 2018). 


Florida Marijuana Doctors believe that cannabis has an immodulative effect in autoimmune responses since it suppresses the overreaction of the body system while showing the least side effects. The herb has anti-inflammatory properties and calming of swellings, boosting appetite and easing headaches and nausea which gives it an upper hand in the treatment of autoimmune disorders than immunodepressants and NSAIDs. The Higher Path (2019) points out that Marijuana doctors have found the medicinal herb to engage directly with the immune cells by affecting the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is significant in regulating the functions of the immune system which contains CB1 and CB2 receptors, marijuana, on the other hand, contains cannabinoids that interact with both of these ECS receptors (The Higher Path 2019).

Case Study

A study done by Lee et al (2016) on the potential benefits of CBD using a mouse model of experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) that was induced through immunization with cardiac myosin emulsified in adjuvant resulting in T cell-mediated inflammation cardiomyocyte cell death, fibrosis, and myocardial dysfunction. Results from the study revealed characterization of the EAM by myocardial T-cell infiltration, profound inflammatory response, and fibrosis which were accompanied by marked attenuation of both systolic and diastolic cardiac functions (Lee et al 2016). Since CBD significantly attenuated the CD3+ and CD4+ T cell-mediated inflammatory response and injury, myocardial fibrosis and cardiac dysfunction in mice, conclusive reports from the study revealed that CBD is a promising treatment model for myocarditis and other autoimmune disorders. Relative to this, marijuana doctors state that the effects of cannabinoids on the immune system seem to be mostly mediated by CB2, more expressed in immune cells than by CB1. Cannabinoids are implicated in the sensory, emotional, and cognitive aspects of pain as well. Dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system has been described in many autoimmune and rheumatic diseases, and cannabinoids-based pharmacological interventions seem promising.

In conclusion, medical marijuana has provided an avenue for health interventions in the treatment of autoimmune disorders. It shows fewer side effects compared to standardized pharmaceutical drugs but still faces conflicts with the approval for use due to a lack of standard dosage measures. 


Khal. A (2018). Labroots. Cannabis Used as an Immunodulator for AutoImmune Diseases. Retrieved from

Lava. N. MD. (2018). WebMD. Medical Marijuana FAQ. Retrieved from

Lee et al. W. (2016). Springer Link. Cannabidiol Limits T Cell-Mediated Chronic Autoimmune Myocarditis: Implications to Autoimmune Disorders and Organ Transplantation. Retrieved from

Oberg. E. (2019). MedicineNet. Medical Marijuana (Medical Cannabis). Retrieved from

Robinson. J. (2018). WebMD. What Are Autoimmune Disorders?  Retrieved from

The Higher Path. (2019). What is an Autoimmune Disorder? Retrieved from