Lyme disease is a significant problem in the U.S., and it’s getting worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is the fastest-growing vector-borne infectious disease. It spreads to humans through ticks, which infect the body with an intractable bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi when they bite. This bacterium makes Lyme disease difficult to cure, since it acts as a kind of shape-shifter that’s hard to detect and weed out. Yet cannabis possesses potent, if understudied and under-utilized, antibiotic properties. And this thus raises a natural question: Could cannabis cure Lyme disease?
Hope For Lyme Disease Cure Lies With Cannabis’ Antibiotic Properties
As with many medicinal applications of medicine, we don’t have a lot of hard scientific data to explain what practitioners have discovered or intuited through experience.
In other words, we know that cannabis has certain antiseptic and antibiotic properties because people have been using it that way for a long time. But we’re not sure exactly what compounds in the plant contribute to that effect, or how to best isolate and administer them.
And when it comes to Lyme disease, rooting out the bacterium causing it is the only complete cure.
This is why the CDC’s official procedure for folks diagnosed with the disease is to recommend a month-long treatment of strong antibiotics. But relapse rates after such treatment are shockingly high, approaching 40 percent.
Worsening matters, the symptoms of the disease can be catastrophic. Severe headaches, fever, chronic fatigue, and rashes are just the early manifestations. If untreated, the infection can spread to joints and the nervous and circulatory systems.
At it’s worst, the infection can have debilitating effects on mental health.
Dr. Ernie Murakamai, a pioneer in treating Lyme disease with cannabis and director and teacher at the Dr. E Murakami Centre for Lyme Research in Canada, said “the leading cause of death in Lyme disease is suicide—the depression is that bad.”
The far-reaching symptoms of the infection make it difficult for doctors to correctly identify Lyme disease.
When doctors do make a correct diagnosis, the standard treatments can sometimes leave patients dependent on antibiotics. In turn, this exposes patients to a host of other complications and risks of secondary infections.
It’s a familiar story. The slash-and-burn approach is the norm, and cannabis is an effective and safer alternative.
So what does the research say? Can cannabis cure Lyme disease?
The Facts About Cannabis And Lyme Disease
A survey of the information available online will mostly land you with anecdotal stories of Lyme disease sufferers taking treatment into their own hands and rejecting regimes of strong antibiotic medications.
Otherwise, you’ll find familiar testimony that cannabis helped manage and reduce some of the symptoms of Lyme disease. But only a few stories attest to combating the infection itself.
Unfortunately, there’s no research on the latter with regard to the Lyme disease-causing bacterium specifically.
However, a study from 2008 which appeared in the Journal of Natural Products did examine the antibiotic properties of cannabis more generally.
The researchers note that all five of the major cannabinoids “showed potent activity” against an antibiotic-resistant strain of MRSA.
The study went on to outline how previous investigations found that chronic marijuana can actually reduce the effectiveness of the immune system. But they noted that the association of cannabis with decreased protection from bacterial infection is a paradox, “since this plant has long been known to contain powerful antibacterial agents.”
The researchers managed to isolate and define some of the chemical mechanisms and cannabinoid “precursors” with antibacterial properties. But their conclusion? Further study needed.
Nevertheless, there may be some truth to the multiple stories from people who found success treating their Lyme disease with cannabis. And weed’s antibacterial properties are likely the cause.
Will Cannabis Cure Lyme Disease?
For now, we can’t be certain. Only further research dedicated to mining all of cannabis’ potential as an antibiotic agent can answer that question.
But the information that’s out there points to a few strategies for those considering it.
At the moment, cannabidiol and other non-psychotropic cannabinoids seem to have the upper hand over THC when it comes to fighting infections. So if you want to experiment with cannabis as a treatment, try cannabis oil that’s CBD-dominant.
Another approach is to use cannabis to help manage and alleviate the painful symptoms of Lyme disease. But of course, this should never be a substitute for treating the infection itself with antibiotics.
In this case, THC’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects can help with pain-related symptoms and fatigue.
Either way, people suffering from Lyme disease should definitely look into cannabis as part of a treatment program.