Can CBD help with hemophilia?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes hemophilia as a usually-inherited bleeding disorder where the blood would not clot as it should, leading to spontaneous bleeding (1). 

Blood contains many proteins called clotting factors that can help stop bleeding. 

Hemophilia A, also called factor VIII deficiency or classic hemophilia, is a genetic disorder caused by a missing or defective factor VIII, a clotting protein.

Meanwhile, Hemophilia B, also called factor IX (FIX) deficiency or Christmas disease, is caused by a missing or defective factor IX.

Although both types of hemophilia are passed down to children from their parents, about 1 in 3 cases are caused by a spontaneous mutation or a change in a gene, says the National Hemophilia Foundation (2). 

Signs and symptoms of spontaneous bleeding include: (3)

    • Many large or deep bruises
    • Unexplained, excessive bleeding from cuts, injuries, after surgery, or dental work
    • Unusual bleeding after vaccinations
    • Pain, swelling (inflammation), or tightness in the joints
    • Blood in urine or stool
    • Nosebleeds without a known cause

Excessive bleeding can be life-threatening if it occurs in any vital organs such as the brain. Therefore, it becomes crucial to treat hemophilia before it becomes severe.

Why Some People Are Taking CBD for Hemophilia Symptoms

CBD may not be a recommended treatment for hemophilia. However, CBD’s purported therapeutic characteristics may be useful in treating some of the symptoms commonly linked to hemophilia, such as pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.

According to the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA), joint disease is the most common complication of hemophilia. A joint is where two bones are held together. 

People with hemophilia can bleed into the joint space after an injury or, at times, without an apparent cause. The pressure of blood filling the joint cavity causes significant pain and can lead to chronic swelling and deformity (4). 

CBD may help in the treatment of different types of chronic pain (5). Thus, CBD may help provide much-needed pain relief when dealing with joint problems.

Meanwhile, CBD’s anti-inflammatory characteristics have been shown in several human and animal studies, like that of a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and a 2012 research conducted by authors from the Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine in the University of São Paulo, Brazil (6).

In addition, research published in the Free Radical Biology & Medicine Journal by George Booz of the University of Mississippi Medical Center showed that CBD, which may interact with the endocannabinoid system, is a promising prototype for anti-inflammatory drug development (7).

Those with hemophilia can have bleeding in and around the brain, after an injury or without a known cause. Head bleeds may result in permanent brain damage or even death (8). 

Signs of having a head bleed include:

    • a persistent headache or one that gets worse with time
    • difficulty in paying attention
    • drowsiness
    • loss of consciousness
    • lethargy (trouble waking up or keeping awake)
    • sudden and forceful vomiting
    • seizures.

CBD may be able to help alleviate some of those symptoms.

A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology revealed the antiemetic effects of cannabinoids in response to a toxic challenge. Cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, was shown to suppress nausea and vomiting within a limited dose range (9).

CBD may also help reduce muscle spasms, a feature of neuropathic damage which often manifests in painful, uncontrolled muscle twitches (10). 

However, the most substantial scientific evidence is for CBD’s effectiveness in treating some epilepsy syndromes, like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically do not respond to antiseizure medications (11)

Epidiolex, which contains CBD, was the first drug ever approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for those conditions (12).

Conclusion

Cannabidiol (CBD) is certainly not a replacement for traditional hemophilia treatment. Still, CBD’s therapeutic health benefits may help relieve some of the symptoms linked to hemophilia, such as nausea, vomiting, pain, inflammation, and seizures.

However, a consultation with a doctor experienced in cannabis use is essential before using CBD as a treatment for any symptom or disorder or using CBD as an adjunct therapy.

Medically reviewed DR. WIEGMANN on 06-22-2020


  1. CDC. (2019, June 3). What is Hemophilia? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/facts.html.
  2. NHF. Hemophilia A. Retrieved from https://www.hemophilia.org/Bleeding-Disorders/Types-of-Bleeding-Disorders/Hemophilia-A; NHF. Hemophilia B. Retrieved from https://www.hemophilia.org/Bleeding-Disorders/Types-of-Bleeding-Disorders/Hemophilia-B.
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2019, Aug 22). Hemophilia. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemophilia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373327.
  4. HFA. Joint Damage. Retrieved from https://www.hemophiliafed.org/understanding-bleeding-disorders/complications/joint-damage/.
  5. Grinspoon, P. (2019, Aug 27). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
  6. Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3713–3724. doi:10.1172/JCI64628; Ribeiro A et al. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic plant-derived cannabinoid, decreases inflammation in a murine model of acute lung injury: role for the adenosine A(2A) receptor. Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Mar 5;678(1-3):78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.12.043. Epub 2012 Jan 12.
  7. Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011;51(5):1054–1061. DOI:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.01.007.
  8. Hemophilia of Georgia. Head Bleeds. Retrieved from https://www.hog.org/handbook/article/3/33/head-bleeds.
  9. Parker LA, Rock EM, Limebeer CL. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1411–1422. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x.
  10. NINDS. (2018, Aug). Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet.
  11. Grinspoon, P. (2019, Aug 27). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
  12. FDA News. (2018, June 25). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms.

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Jayden’s Story

Jayden spent the first three months of his life in Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, fighting to stay alive. At just two days old he suffered two haemorrhages, one in the space between his scalp and his skull and the other under the surface of his brain. He was in critical condition, and his parents were told he was not expected to survive the night.

Jayden defied the odds that night and continued the struggle to stay alive in the Intensive Care Unit where he spent two weeks under daily care by Hospital staff. He was given several blood and platelet transfusions, but regardless of their best efforts, Jayden’s doctors noticed his haemoglobin levels continued to drop.

Jayden underwent tests and it was discovered he has a rare and incurable blood clotting disorder, Severe Haemophilia A. It means he is missing a clotting factor (Factor VIII) in his blood and for the rest of his life is prone to spontaneous bleeding, especially internally, which can affect his joints and muscles leading to immobility. Jayden’s family had to quickly come to terms with the fact their boy is required to have Factor VIII Replacement Therapy, to replace the missing clotting factor, for the rest of his life.

When he was six weeks old, his Haematologist discovered he had developed an inhibitor (antibody) to Factor VIII. This is a major complication for people with Haemophilia and means the antibodies attack replacement therapy causing treatment not to work.

Jayden started to bleed a lot more than usual, all over his body, and at three years of age suffered bleeding into the brain stem and gastrointestinal tract and was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit.  The bleeding put him at risk of either total paralysis or death. Once again, with the dedication of the Hospital staff, Jayden fought the battle and survived.

A few years later Jayden was diagnosed with another condition, Autism, which affects his behaviour, sensory processing, and social skills. His mum Lyn said it has been a daily struggle to balance the two conditions, as the disruptive nature of treatment for Haemophilia can have a negative impact on his behaviour as people with Autism generally function better when they have a set routine. The behaviour caused by Autism can also be a risk to his safety, as he can knock or bump himself during meltdowns, causing bleeds which will require treatment to stop the bleeding.

Jayden, now nine, currently undergoes daily injections, monthly blood tests, regular clinic appointments, weekly physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and weekly outpatient therapies to manage his conditions. He sometimes requires the use of a wheelchair during each bleeding episode and during recovery and rehabilitation.

Jayden’s mother Lyn said “I have faith that Jayden is in the best care. We are very grateful to be under the amazing care of Sydney Children’s Hospital.”

“They have saved his life, time and time again. I can’t thank them enough. But the Hospital is in need of community support with much needed funds so they can continue to provide the best possible care and treatment for all sick and injured children.”

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