Medical marijuana/cannabis including CBD & THC helps many Lyme symptoms. Marty Ross MD LLMD reviews how and why to use it in a Lyme disease treatment. Here are some of the best CBD oils for Lyme Disease, a condition caused by infected tick bites where primary symptoms include sleep disruption. Learn more.
Medical Marijuana, Cannabis, & CBD for Lyme
I lived in Washington state until late 2018 where state law provides for both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Federal law does not allow for medical marijuana, but it allows for the unrestricted sale of products derived from hemp. Hemp and marijuana are forms of cannabis. I recommended medical cannabis in my Seattle practice from marijuana or hemp for some of my Lyme disease patients based on the limited science available and based on the positive responses I witness. In this article I review
- how medical cannabis and medical marijuana works,
- CBD and THC,
- conditions cannabis and marijuana helps,
- how to take medical cannabis and medical marijuana,
- starting doses, and
- possible safety concerns.
Note:This is a long article with a lot of background. Skip to the bottom to see the conditions medical marijuana helps and information on how to take it.
Marty Ross MD on CBD and Marijuana in Lyme Disease
The Politics of Medical Marijuana
As I write this article twenty five states in the USA allow medical marijuana use and eight all marijuana recreational use. USA federal law currently allows for the use of CBD derived from hemp in all 50 states. Unfortunately the federal government, under the Trump administration, has put out some worrisome writings that it thinks hemp should be regulated the same as marijuana. In addition, US Attorney General Sessions calls for the federal government through US Attorneys at their discretion to enforce federal marijuana laws putting an end to state recreation and medical marijuana usage.
Cannabis, Marijuana, Hemp, CBD, THC
There are two varieties of cannabis plants. They differ in their appearance and chemical make up. The two plants are Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Both of these plants are called marijuana. Hemp is a variety of Cannabis Sativa that has less than .3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that gets people high. Both Indica and Sativa that have more than .3% THC are regulated as illegal drugs by the US government. Federal courts have ruled that industrial hemp, cannabis sativa with less than .3% THC, cannot be regulated as a drug. Thus cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp can be sold as a supplement across state lines and through the internet.
Cannabinoids & The Endocannabinoid System
There are over 400 chemicals called cannabinoids in cannabis that interact with the body’s natural cannabis system. Our natural marijuana/cannabis system is called the endocannabinoid system. The two main cannabis chemicals are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These chemicals interact with our endocannabinoid system in a variety of ways. In addition to cannabinoids, cannabis has terpenes. Terpenes give the flavor and aroma to cannabis. They also change the absorption and effects of CBD and THC.
The endocannabinoid system is distributed throughout the entire body with receptors found in the brain and many major organ systems. There are two major chemical receptors called cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). in addition to CB1 and CB2 there are some other minor receptors.
CB1 receptors are found on many organs including the brain and nervous system. They regulate the release of neurotransmitters in the brain and are psychoactive. CB1 regulates the heart and blood vessels, energy, thinking, memory, emotions, pain, muscle control, sensory regulation, the intestinal system, and much more.
CB2 is primarily anti-inflammatory and regulates the immune system. These receptors are found on a variety of white blood cells including B cells that make antibodies, T cells that fight Lyme, bacteria, and viruses, and macrophages that fight viruses. In addition to fighting infections, T cells release inflammatory cytokines that cause most Lyme symptoms. So regulating CB2 can lead to improvements in most of these symptoms.
The endocannabinoid system produces a number of chemicals that bind to the CB1, CB2 and minor receptors. The two major known ones are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These two chemicals are broken down by a number of enzymes.
THC works by binding directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD works indirectly by limiting the destruction of 2-AG and anandamide. This leaves more of these chemicals available to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. In addition to indirectly raising anandamide and 2-AG, CBD may bind to minor receptors exerting a direct influence on the organs and the nervous system.
THC is also psychoactive. This is what gives a person the high of smoking or eating THC. CBD does not have this effect. CBD is thought to decrease the psychoactive effect of THC. Because it is psychoactive, THC can cause some thinking impairment which could be a draw back for people in Lyme who have difficult thinking. By comparison, CBD does not seem to give thinking problems.
One other major difference of THC and CBD is that THC produces more sleepiness while CBD is more upping. Thus THC is better for night use compared to CBD which is better for day use.
THC can cause psychosis. And CBD and THC can lower blood pressure and even cause heart attacks. So THC should not be used in people with psychotic mental health conditions. And both CBD and THC should be avoided in someone with low blood pressure or at risk for a heart attack. For instance someone with Lyme and paroxysmal orthostatic hypotension syndrome (POTS) should not use medical cannabis. And if a person has cognitive impairment on either CBD or THC, he or she should not drive.
What Does Medical Marijuana Help?
The research data base for medical cannabis is very limited due to US federal law that limits research on marijuana. Below I detail what is known through research on various medical conditions. However, there has not been any specific research on cannabis and someone with Lyme disease.
In 2016 the National Academy of Sciences published a review of the science and medical cannabis. Here is a list of its findings supported by research:
- Prevents chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy in animal studies,
- Inhaled cannabis reduces pain in HIV related neuropathy,
- Can help with pain through a helpful interaction with opioid receptors (animal studies) and can help reduce pain for patients on narcotics,
- Helps chemotherapy induced vomiting and nausea,
- Decreases anorexia and wasting in HIV,
- Reduces muscle spasticity in ALS and MS,
- Decreases saliva production in ALS,
- Reduces symptoms of depression in ALS,
- Anecdotal reports shows help with depression, anxiety and stress,
- CB1 receptor binders decrease seizures (in mice anandamide levels rise after seizures which stops the seizure),
- THC in some animal studies decreases seizures,
- CBD lowers seizures too through a number of proposed mechanisms by increasing anandamide levels, blocking enzymes that lower 2-AG and anandamide, or lowering glutamate levels,
- Limited human experiments shows lower seizure thresholds,
- Open label CBD studies show can lower seizures in humans,
- THC can help HIV cachexia and wasting syndrome,
- In HIV inhaled cannabis alleviates nerve pain,
- In HIV can help with nausea,
- Cannabis can alleviate symptoms of Chron’s and Ulcerative colitis like abdominal pain, nausea, and diarreha,
- Decreases MS muscle spasm and pain,
- Reduces pain,
- In Parkinsons, decreases tremors, and stiffness like bradykinesia, and dyskinesia, and
- In Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can help alleviate the hyperarousal state and insomnia.
Kills Lyme:In Canada, Dr. Erni Murakami did laboratory experiments showing CBD kills Lyme spirochetes. However there are no human experiments that show this to occur.
Medical Cannabis Benefits in Lyme
Based on the above research and what I see in my patients I recommend medical marijuana and medical cannabis for people with Lyme for the following reasons or conditions:
- As an anti-inflammatory working through CB2 receptors it protects the health of the nervous system and brain,
- Anxiety (I prefer CBD over THC),
- Depression (I prefer THC over CBD),
- Nerve pain,
- Muscle and joint pain,
- Insomnia (THC, not CBD),
- Stomach and Intestinal dysfunction like diarrhea and cramping,
- Seizures or seizure-like symptoms,
- Difficulty maintaining weight,
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle stiffness,
- Improve immune function by lowering inflammatory cytokines, and
- To decrease narcotics or to enhance their effect for pain control.
Kills Lyme?I am skeptical that it actually kills Lyme in any meaningful way in humans, although I am interested in this potential based on Dr. Murakami’s experiments. I have not seen improved killing of Lyme in my patients who use medical cannabis.
How to Take Medical Marijuana and CBD in Lyme
Medical cannabis comes in a variety of forms. Loose plant and oils can be inhaled either by using a vaporizer or directly smoking (plant). Of the inhaled methods, I prefer the vaporizer to limit harmful chemicals and irritants entering the lungs through smoking. Edible forms come in pills, drops, or in food. Also drops and sprays can be used in the mouth. There are creams and lotions which may have an effect where they are placed, but not throughout the body. The delivery method determines how quickly the effect will occur and how long it will last.
|Delivery Method||Time to Feel Effect||Time of Peak Effect||Length of Effect|
|Vapor or Smoke||90 sec||15 – 30 min||2 – 3 hours|
|Edibles/Pills/Drops||90 min||2 – 6 hours||4 – 12 hours|
|Mouth Sprays||.5 – 2.5 hour||1.5 – 4.25 hours|
Note: There is a lot of dfference in effects between different people.
Starting Dose: For someone who is new to cannabis and marijuana a good starting dose is 5 mgto see what the effect is. Based on that add more or less. Be careful with edibles because it could take 90 minutes or more to feel the effect.
CBD versus THC: CBD tends to be more activating and generally is good for daytime use. THC is more psychoactive creating sleepiness and the high; so it is better for before bed time use.
With CBD and THC from marijuana, there are products that are higher or lower in THC to CBD ratios. For instance a high THC product could have THC:CBD of 10:1. This type of product is good for night use. On the other hand a product of THC:CBD of 1:10 is good for day use.
Dose Frequency: Take high CBD ratio products up to 2 times during the day and high THC products before bed.
Experiment with Ratios: For some people THC works better for symptom management than CBD does. So for daytime use a person may need to find a higher THC:CBD ratio that works for that person.
How to Limit the High: Vaporizing or smoking high THC products gives less of a high than edible forms. THC from edible forms is altered by the liver into a more psychoactive substance giving a greater high. Also CBD can lower the high too.
Talk to The Bud Keeper: Medical marijuana stores have bud keepers. Good ones know the products in the store. Talk with them before you purchase to help find the best product for your situation. There is a lot of variation in products including mixes of THC, CBD, other cannabanoids in the products, and terpenes that effect how any given product works.
In Washington State, medical marijuana stores were combined with recreational stores in 2017. In my experience, the bud keepers in recreational shops are generally not as skilled at finding the right medical product as bud keepers in medical marijuana stores. Fortunately, in Washington state, some stores have certification in medical marijuana. These medical certified stores tend to have bud keepers who know the medical properties of there products.
The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.
CBD Oil for Lyme Disease – August 2022
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 Medicin e 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.