As medical director of Medical Cannabis of Southern California I often evaluate patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and SLE (lupus). Both are characterized by extreme chronic joint pain. Today I evaluated a 54 year female who had been taking plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) to limit the joint inflammation. Unfortunately she is experiencing some unwanted side effects and has been using cannabis to help relieve them.

Plaquenil is a drug that is used to treat malaria infections. It also happens to have immunosuppressive properties and is used to limit inflammation. Arthritis is a disease that is characterized by pain secondary to joint inflammation.

This patient stated that the plaquenil was working great and her joint pain had been reduced tremendously. However it was causing pretty debilitating abdominal cramping, nausea and occasional vomiting. In many cases this can be reduced by taking with food but for her it was persistent and frequent.

A few weeks back she ran into a friend who had been using cannabis to treat her lupus arthritis. She convinced my patient to try a little to see if it would help. Not surprisingly her abdominal cramping subsided and her nausea went away. In addition her joint pain was significantly improved.

Cannabis has many anti-inflammatory properties. It directly binds to receptors on immune cells and modulates the inflammatory response. In addition it also reduces pain by directly binding to receptors in our nervous system.

My treatment plan for her is to try vaporizing an indica strain at night to help with sleep and use a topical cream during the day. She will most likely use cannabis indefinitely as there is no cure for arthritis (outside a joint replacement)

Source: Plaquenil, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Marijuana (Cannabis) | MCSocal