CBD is largely known for its wide variety of health benefits. Many people use it as an all-around wellness boost, while others consume it to treat a specific ailment. As research expands and mainstream acceptance of CBD grows, people are finding that the popular cannabinoid provides relief for many illnesses and conditions, one being Lyme disease.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an illness that typically develops after being bitten by a tick carrying the borrelia bacteria. Ticks live in grassy, wooded areas and can be found throughout most of the United States; however, Lyme disease is most common in the upper Midwest, northeastern, and mid-Atlantic states. Each case is different: for some, the disease can be treatable and even curable; for others, it becomes a debilitating chronic illness.
What are the Symptoms?
Tick bites appear very similar to mosquito bites, so many people are not aware that they have been bitten by a tick until the symptoms set in. Lyme disease symptoms usually begin 3 to 30 days after the initial bite. It often starts as a rash characterized by a single circle that slowly grows and spreads outwards from the bite. The rash may be accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle pains, and swollen lymph nodes.
As the disease progresses, symptoms become more extreme. Around 3 to 10 weeks after the tick bite, many endure additional rashes, irregular heartbeat, pain in the extremities, neck pain or stiffness, facial muscle weakness, and painful swelling of and around the eyes that can lead to vision loss. Arthritis in larger joints, particularly the knees, often begins somewhere between 2 and 12 months post-bite.
How is It Treated?
Lyme disease can be discouraging to patients because the long-term symptoms are generally painful, exhausting, and difficult to treat. Treatment involves heavy antibiotic use, either by taking an oral antibiotic or by receiving IV antibiotics to stave off more serious diseases. While the disease can be cured with quick action, many find that the antibiotics that destroy the disease-causing bacteria do not provide permanent relief of symptoms. This is when the disease becomes a chronic, ongoing illness.
How Can CBD Help?
Thankfully, there are options beyond traditional methods of treating the symptoms of Lyme disease. One such alternative is CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound derived from the legal hemp plant. Because the cannabinoid acts as a potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic, it has gained traction amongst Lyme disease patients.
CBD Relieves Pain and Inflammation
Arthritic pain and painful inflammation and swelling throughout the body are unfortunately common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease. CBD works as a powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory by targeting the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and nerves that regulate immune and inflammatory responses. When interacting with the peripheral nervous system, it even works to protect joints from inflammatory damage.
One study published in the European Journal of Pain found that the topical application of CBD gel alleviated joint swelling and significantly reduced pro-inflammatory biomarkers. A similar study focusing on osteoarthritic symptoms determined CBD to be effective in mitigating severe knee pain associated with the condition. Additionally, a review of pharmacological research on CBD concluded that the cannabinoid relieves the chronic pain that accompanies a range of chronic illnesses.
CBD Promotes Better Sleep
Many patients suffering from Lyme disease find themselves relentlessly fatigued, largely because the illness disrupts healthy sleep patterns. Some even develop additional chronic sleep conditions such as restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and sleep apnea, to name a few. Ongoing sleep disturbances lead to brain fog and memory loss, which may explain why many with chronic Lyme disease find their cognition to be impaired by the condition.
CBD promotes better sleep by targeting the hypothalamus, or the part of the brain that regulates our circadian rhythms. By acting on the endocannabinoid receptors here, CBD helps the body progress through sleep cycles without interruption. It ensures that deep restful states are achieved.
CBD Fights Bacteria and Microbes
Although there are no studies confirming that CBD completely staves off bacterial infections, there is growing evidence that the cannabinoid does function as both an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent. As such, it may help those infected with Lyme disease to combat the borrelia bacteria early on.
A promising 2020 study found that CBD, alongside other cannabinoids, acts as a potent antimicrobial against pathogens such as MRSA. Another study reported CBD to be a remarkable antimicrobial, research here indicating that the compound not only fights MRSA, but other resistant bacteria as well.
Research into the many benefits of CBD is continually expanding, especially as legal restrictions loosen and general acceptance becomes increasingly widespread. Published studies already confirm CBD as a legitimate treatment option for a number of chronic ailments, but we are only beginning to understand the vast potential of this powerful cannabinoid. Several studies certainly indicate that it treats many of the symptoms associated with chronic Lyme disease! We hope that researchers take an even closer look at CBD and its relationship with Lyme disease as they delve deeper into the cannabinoid’s functions.