Cannabis Treatments for Lyme Disease

brown spider on green leaf

Devastating outcomes from a hike in the hills responds to the healing power of cannabis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are between 20,000 and 40,000 cases of Lyme disease reported each year in the U.S. between 2002 and 2015. The numbers are increasing. All too often, cases are incorrectly diagnosed at first. The devastation Lyme disease can cause if untreated makes this diagnosis important to get right, and right away.


The CDC on Alternative Therapies

The CDC reports most cases are confined to 14 Eastern and Northern states. That includes all of the Eastern Seaboard states from Maine to Pennsylvania, plus Minnesota and Wisconsin. California reported fewer than 100 cases in 2015; Colorado and other Central Region states reported none. 

Though the CDC is helpful in understanding Lyme disease, the federal government’s prejudice against cannabis biases their published information on treatments. A classic example found on the CDC website is the multi-authored 2015 journal article, Unorthodox Alternative Therapies Marketed to Treat Lyme Disease.

Lumped in with such oddities as urine-drinking therapy, the authors have included both “marijuana” and “cannabis oil,” a jab at Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). The researchers complained that, “Most of the cited treatments were never evaluated with any scientific study, although we did find that a few treatments were evaluated in studies that either were poorly designed or had unclear relevance to human disease.”

Interestingly, considering the medical research on cannabis is prohibited by the same federal government that the CDC speaks for. Additionally, there is no distinction between using an alternative treatment toward a cure and treatment to provide symptom relief. In fact, the alleviation of suffering is not addressed at all in the CDC article.

According to the CDC, only antibiotics will effectively cure Lyme disease and the sooner the better. Left untreated, Lyme disease can damage the nervous system and the heart, and causes arthritis or memory loss. Some people wait too long to seek treatment, often not knowing they are infected, and others are treated for other conditions before Lyme disease in correctly diagnosed. Either way, the patient suffers. Since the practice of medicine is about the relief of suffering as well as the cure of illness, it is odd that the CDC has no advice for sufferers beyond taking antibiotics, often known for causing suffering too. 


A Focus on Symptom Relief

Many pro-cannabis websites — including and — recommend cannabis use as part of a curative regimen for Lyme disease, mentioning early research into CB2 receptors and the immune system. One article, Cannabis kicks Lyme disease to the curb, at is so sloppily written it’s useless. But, comprehensive or not, well written or not, every article is primarily about symptom relief. Most suggest CBD-heavy strains or strains with 1:1 THC to CBD ratios. 

When you look at a list of the major symptoms of Lyme disease, it is obvious why cannabis is so effective in providing relief. Major symptoms are: rash, flu-like discomfort, eye, brain (meningitis), lymph gland and/or joint swelling, heart palpitations, fatigue, weak muscles. All of these involve some form of inflammation and many strains of cannabis have proven superbly effective against inflammation. Cannabis is now well known for its neuro-protective qualities too; the bacterium that causes Lyme disease generally attacks the nervous system, as the above list shows.

Clearly, the research and the relief of suffering are being impeded by the federal ban. As the article so clearly states:

“More and more studies show that cannabis has antibiotic properties… It has even proven to be an effective treatment for the flesh-eating virus known as MRSA. Studies also show the spirochetes that cause Lyme disease can be treated using cannabidiol (CBD). Because of the federal laws banning marijuana, much of this evidence is anecdotal.” 


So, educate yourself and gently experiment for yourself. The federal bias does not seem to be going away anytime soon.


Did you know? Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted through tick bites. Blood from an infected deer or mouse infects the tick; then the tick infects the next host, maybe you or your dog.


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Emerald contributor since July 2015


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