How Can CBD Oil Help With Lyme Disease?
- Lyme disease is a serious microbial infection commonly caused by tick bites. It can cause long-lasting and potentially life-threatening complications if not promptly treated by a licensed medical professional.
- CBD may be considered for symptomatic relief alongside safe, established treatments.
- Sleep disruption is a common symptom of Lyme disease, a condition caused by infected tick bites. A small 2019 study published in the Permanente Journal concluded that sleep and anxiety scores improved in human subjects who were given cannabidiol (CBD) (1).
- CBD may also help with joint and pain inflammation, another Lyme disease symptom. The European Journal of Pain published a 2016 animal study on transdermal CBD use in subjects with arthritis. Results showed that the daily application of CBD gel reduced spontaneous pain (2).
- The Journal of Experimental Medicine printed a study that suggested non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as CBD, have the potential to suppress chronic neuropathic pain in animal test subjects(3). The study also noted CBD’s analgesic properties.
- CBD has the potential to reduce heart palpitations of infected individuals. A 2010 lab experiment published in the British Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated the cardioprotective properties of CBD on animal test subjects (4).
- A report published in the Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek Journal mentioned that CBD might affect a few pathogenic bacterial populations. However, gram-negative bacteria, such as Lyme disease-causing bacteria, are resistant to CBD (5). Doxycycline is a safe, routine antibiotic proven to treat Lyme disease.
Why People Are Turning to CBD Oil for Lyme Disease
A study published in Reumatologia mentioned that 10% of recovered Lyme disease patients continue to experience symptoms (6). This condition is called Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLD). The study also mentioned the lack of treatment for people suffering from PTLD.
PTLD symptoms may include rashes (resembling a bullseye), severe fatigue, joint pain, neck stiffness and pain, muscle aches, memory problems, nerve pain, nerve inflammation, and sleep disruption.
People who have recovered from the disease are often left to endure lingering symptoms without any prescribed treatments. There have been reports that these symptoms can even last for decades (7).
Prolonged pain and sleep disorders can diminish the quality of life among individuals with PTLD. However, long-term use of prescribed medication may not be advisable due to their many side effects (8).
Thus, there has been an interest in alternative approaches, like CBD, that may help with Lyme disease symptoms.
CBD vs. Chronic Pain
A study released by Pharmacological Reviews mentioned that modulating the ECS activity may trigger a therapeutic response to neuropathic pain and inflammation (9).
The European Journal of Pain published a 2016 study reporting that transdermal CBD application reduced the pain rating scores among animal test subjects with arthritis (10).
The study discussed that the scores were reduced from median 4 to median 1.5 after the daily application of CBD gel.
The study concluded that CBD possesses potential therapeutic properties for relieving inflammation and arthritis pain-related behaviors without any side effects.
The study also compared CBD to current medications often prescribed by doctors for patients with arthritis (11).
Current medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis, taken orally, can cause side effects, like upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting (12).
CBD vs. Sleep Problems and Fatigue
A study conducted by the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center revealed that Lyme disease patients commonly have poor sleep quality. Moreover, the study found that sleep disruptions are the cause of fatigue (13).
Lyme disease can disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain, causing insomnia. Individuals with insomnia are sometimes prescribed over-the-counter sleeping agents such as melatonin, antihistamines, and other herbal supplements. Lifestyle changes are most commonly recommended and provide benefits.
Less commonly, doctors may prescribe hypotonic drugs, such as benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine agonist receptors (BzRAs), chronobiotic agents, and low-dose doxepin hydrochloride.
However, a 2015 study published on the Sleep Disorders Journal reported that these common sleep medications have residual effects that may impair daytime activities (14).
Some individuals cannot tolerate the residual effects of strong sleep medications because they disrupt daytime activities at home, work, or school.
A 2019 experiment published in the Permanente Journal concluded that the sleep and anxiety scores of 72 adult patients have improved after taking CBD (15). On average, the patients reported improvements in sleep quality and anxiety. These improvements were sustained over some time.
The experiment also discovered minimal side effects, one of which is fatigue. However, fatigue was later concluded to be a result of wrong dosing.
CBD vs. Brain and Nerve Inflammation
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a neuromodulatory system in the human body. Its primary function is modulating the central nervous system (16).
The ECS is primarily composed of cannabinoid receptors 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptors 2 (CB2). These receptors have therapeutic potential for treating various pathologies (17).
CBD has been found to interact and stimulate with CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The Journal of Experimental Medicine printed an animal study suggesting that non-psychoactive CBD might help suppress chronic neuropathic pain. CBD was also shown to exhibit analgesic properties (18).
Another animal study, published in the journal Bentham Science Publishers Limited, mentioned that cannabinoids, such as CBD, might have the ability to modulate neuroinflammatory disorders (19).
The study suggested that cannabinoids inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in both human cell cultures and animal models. This action has been thought to be mediated mainly by CB2 receptors (20).
Some Lyme disease symptoms are similar to those of brain inflammation (encephalitis). Encephalitis symptoms may include headache, fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, seizure, hallucination, slurred speech, and loss of consciousness (21). Encephalitis, caused by Lyme or otherwise, is always very serious and must be treated by a qualified physician.
CBD vs. Heart Palpitation
A study released by the British Journal of Pharmacology noted that CBD might help suppress cardiac arrhythmias and reduce infarct size (death of tissue due to reduced blood flow) after a heart attack (22).
In the study, animal subjects induced with the conditions were treated with CBD 30 minutes before coronary artery occlusion.
Test results demonstrated that CBD reduced both cardiac arrhythmias and infarct size after a heart attack. The study suggested that CBD might possess cardioprotective properties (23).
CBD may have demonstrated promising results in animal subjects. However, human beings who are experiencing cardiac arrhythmia or heart attack must always consult a medical professional or emergency medical services. Never attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat.
How CBD Oil Works to Help With Lyme Disease
Several scientific studies have been conducted on how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) modulates the function of several systems in the human body.
A study from the British Journal of Pharmacology acknowledged that cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, may trigger CB1 and CB2 receptors (24). This stimulation may contribute to alleviating the symptoms of PTLD.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Lyme Disease
- Doctors usually prescribe a course of antibiotics for Lyme disease patients and it may require more than one course. Once the patient recovers, doctors can offer NSAIDs or acetaminophen for residual pain relief. CBD oil possesses properties that may also address symptoms, like pain, sleep disruptions, and fatigue (25).
- Studies have shown that CBD might help with Lyme disease symptoms, such as joint pain, inflammation, and nerve pain (26).
- CBD does not induce psychoactive effects. Legitimate CBD brands keep the THC levels lower than 0.3%.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has mentioned that CBD is non-addictive. It is safe for daily intake (27).
- CBD can be purchased without a prescription. CBD brands are available online and in local dispensaries.
- It is not advisable to use CBD in conjunction with prescribed medicines. CBD has been shown to interact with other drugs by affecting how the body metabolizes the medication.
- CBD may reduce the population in a few pathogens. However, Lyme disease-causing bacteria and other gram-negative bacteria are resistant to CBD (28). Certain antibiotics are already safe, mainstay treatments for Lyme.
- The CBD industry is highly unregulated.
- CBD has side effects, including drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, and reduced appetite (29).
How CBD Oil Compare to Alternative Treatments for Lyme Disease Symptoms
Alternative treatments for treating sleep disruptions, anxiety, and pain associated with Lyme disease include wellness procedures, like hypnosis, acupuncture, and meditation.
Individuals suffering from sleep disruptions may also turn to essential oils and chamomile tea.
Some brands sell CBD-infused essential oils and CBD tea bags. These products can also be an option for individuals who want to optimize wellness.
Although CBD cannot cure Lyme disease or completely eradicate all its symptoms, some studies have acknowledged CBD’s potential to improve an individual’s quality of life (30).
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil for Lyme Disease
There are three different types of CBD oil available.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids present in hemp. These cannabinoids may include cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) not exceeding 0.3%.
Full-spectrum CBD oil works best for Lyme disease symptoms since individuals can take advantage of the benefits from all the cannabinoids.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids without THC. For individuals who do not want psychoactive effects, this type of CBD oil is recommended.
Lastly, CBD isolates provide CBD in its purest form. This type is chosen by individuals who cannot tolerate other cannabinoids.
When buying a CBD product, consumers must look for the certificate of analysis (COA).
The COA is a third-party lab test result that determines if the CBD concentration in the product is the same as the concentration advertised by the brand.
The COA also confirms the cannabinoids’ potency. The test results also guarantee that the product is free from heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants.
How Much CBD Oil Should Be Taken for Lyme Disease?
Dosing and frequency of intake depend on how an individual responds to CBD. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research to determine how individuals with Lyme disease react to CBD.
First-time CBD users are advised to start with a low dose, gradually increasing it once their bodies grow accustomed to CBD.
However, it is important to consult with a doctor for guidance before trying any CBD product, and if you think you may have Lyme disease.
How to Take CBD Oil for Lyme Disease
Individuals experiencing widespread pain may want to find immediate relief. The quickest way to achieve results is through CBD vape pens or CBD vape oil.
However, studies show that vaping may lead to unfavorable side effects (31).
A quick and easy way of administering CBD is by placing a few drops of CBD tincture under the tongue. This method may be used to address sleep disruptions, palpitations, fatigue, and widespread pain.
Individuals who prefer not to ingest CBD may use CBD topicals, such as creams and transdermal patches. These products may be used on joint and neck pains. With topicals, CBD does not have to go through the gastrointestinal system.
Can Late-Stage Lyme Disease Be Cured?
Late-stage Lyme disease is serious and life-threatening. It is treated with intravenous antibiotics for 14-21 days. Side effects include mild to severe diarrhea and low white blood cell count, making the patient susceptible to several antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
In some cases, the infection becomes dormant and reactivate when the immune system gets compromised.
Untreated Lyme disease may progress to heart problems, chronic joint inflammation, cognitive defects, and peripheral neuropathy (32).
Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome
Some of the symptoms of PTLD are so severe that they are comparable to symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. In a study, some individuals register high on the Fatigue Severity Scale (33).
As PTLD is linked to other health conditions, diagnosis becomes difficult. Some doctors conduct additional tests to determine if the patient is experiencing a resurgence of infection or an unrelated illness.
Lyme disease patients are sometimes tested for multiple sclerosis because the symptoms are similar. Moreover, doctors must conduct additional tests since a review has suggested that Lyme disease may trigger fibromyalgia (34). So far, CBD has not been shown to treat Lyme or PTLD.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
The United States Farm Bill authorized the production, delivery, and selling of hemp. When the law was signed, hemp was removed from the list of controlled substances under the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) (35).
Hemp-derivatives, such as CBD oil, can be produced, sold, and bought as long as THC levels do not exceed 0.3%.
Hemp-derived products can legally be sold in 50 States and U.S. territories. Although heavily unregulated, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remains watchful of products containing CBD (36).
Can Stevia Cure Lyme Disease?
A group of microbiologists experimented on Stevia rebaudiana leaf extract as a potential cure for Lyme disease (37).
They discovered that stevia extracts have the ability to reduce the population of Borrelia burgdorferi samples. After a 7-day and 14-day subculture of treated Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria treated with Stevia had no regrowth. However, this research is too early to draw any applicable conclusions from.
Additional studies are needed to confirm whether Stevia can treat Lyme disease. However, this promising result may one day lead to another treatment option.
Can CBD Cure Lyme Disease?
A study published in the journal Antonie van Leeuwenhoek showed that CBD and another cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reduced the population of staphylococci and streptococci (38).
However, CBD and THC do not affect gram-negative bacteria, such as Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease bacteria), Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Salmonella enterica. CBD cannot cure Lyme disease.
What Causes Lyme Disease?
The parasite, Ixodes scapularis, is responsible for causing Lyme disease. This parasite is commonly known as a black-legged tick or deer tick. Usually found in plants and grass, these ticks can also latch on to stray dogs, horses, and raccoons.
People may encounter these ticks when going through plants or sitting on the grass. The ticks have no ability to fly or jump. They wait with their front legs outstretched and ready to latch on a passing human or animal.
This particular species of tick can carry up to seven types of pathogens, two of which are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii. These are bacteria from the spirochetes group.
B.burgdorferi and B.mayonii are responsible for causing Lyme disease. In some cases, these bacteria can be resistant to antibiotics.
There are reports that a recovered individual may retain dormant bacteria. They may reemerge when the immune system becomes weak.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) mentioned that 300,000 individuals are infected with Lyme disease every year in the U.S (39).
Can CBD Interact With Antibiotics?
The Journal of Clinical Medicine conducted a 2019 study that discussed the interaction between Epidiolex and Amoxicillin. Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved drug (for child epilepsy) containing CBD (40).
The study found that the combination of CBD and Amoxicillin led to an increased risk of side effects. The interaction also led to a decrease in the efficacy of the antibiotics that were used.
According to the CDC, new tick-borne diseases are constantly being discovered. The number of reported cases has also been growing steadily in the US every year. They also mentioned that the parasite’s geographical territory is expanding, making it a public health concern (41).
Early and accurate diagnosis is critical in overcoming Lyme disease. Symptoms may differ among early-stage and late-stage Lyme diseases. Individuals are advised to seek the help of a medical professional immediately upon discovering a tick bite or when symptoms arise.
Studies have suggested that CBD oil may have positive effects on lingering symptoms of Lyme disease, such as widespread pain and inflammation(42).
Also, CBD has been shown to promote better sleep, reduce fatigue, and improve anxiety and depression (43).
Although these tests on animals and human subjects have shown promising results, more studies are needed to verify CBD’s validity thoroughly.
Individuals must consult with a physician before adding CBD to their daily regimen.
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