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CBD vs Prednisone to Control AutoImmune Disease Symptoms

October 15, 2020 in General Education

With autoimmune diseases, the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body’s organs, mistaking them for a foreign invader. They are chronic and incurable. As many as 80 types of autoimmune diseases have been already identified. Prednisone is one of the most widely used drugs to treat inflammatory responses that cause autoimmune diseases. However, it depresses the immune system and has many side effects. In this article, I will define prednisone, discuss its long and short-term side effects, talk about its interaction with CBD, and cite studies about using CBD as a possible replacement for it.

Prednisone is a member of a class of medications known as corticosteroids. Technically, the term corticosteroid refers to both glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, both of which mimic the hormones produced by the adrenal cortex. Patients are given synthetic corticosteroids as replacements when their naturally occurring levels of steroids are low. It reduces inflammation which includes swelling, redness, and pain, by actually changing the way the immune system works through suppression of it. Unfortunately, it has many, many severe, short, and long-term side effects. Here are just a few of each:

Short Term Side Effects

  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings and Changes in Personality
  • High Blood Sugar
  • Headaches and Dizziness
  • Gastric Distress; Upset Stomach, Diarrhea, Vomiting, and Heartburn
  • Weight Gain
  • Acne
  • Rashes and Itching

Long Term Side Effects, Potentially Irreversible

  • Depression, Confusion, and Loss of Contact with Reality
  • Vision Problems; Cataracts, Eye Pain, Redness, Glaucoma
  • Seizures
  • Bulging Eyes
  • Uncontrollable Shaking of Hands
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Difficulty Breathing or Swallowing
  • Abnormal Growth of Facial Hair
  • Increased Likelihood of Infection
  • May Slow Growth and Development in Children
  • Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

CBD As An Alternative Therapy For Autoimmune Diseases

Researchers have found sufficient evidence that CBD is both an anti-inflammatory and an immunosuppressant. But, can it provide similar relief as the pharmaceuticals with the same properties? Can CBD replace prednisone?
Currently, there are no studies that make the case that CBD may be a replacement for prednisone. However, there are many studies that indicate that the potential therapeutic benefits that CBD demonstrates may provide relief for some of the symptoms for which prednisone is prescribed.

Studies on CBD

Anti-Inflammatory Property
The anti-inflammatory property of CBD is well documented and has been shown in many human and animals which include:

  • A 2012 Brazilian animal study through the Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Sao Paulo
  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation
  • Research from George Booz, University of Mississippi Medical Center, showed that the impact of the interaction of CBD with the endocannabinoid system may lead to the development of an effective anti-inflammatory drug
  • Several studies demonstrated the potential to treat the pain and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis through the use of CBD, with its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant properties.

Antiemetic Property

  • A 2014 study in the European Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated that cannabis may prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting due to a myriad of causes.

Bone-Related Conditions

  • Several studies have shown that CBD promotes the structural health of bones. The data from a 2015 study showed that CBD usage contributed to improvements in the healing of fractures. Prednisone has been prescribed for bone marrow problems and other bone-related conditions.

Skin Conditions

  • CBD is known to help relieve skin conditions. It also impacts the TRPV-1 and GPR55 receptors, both of which are found in the skin and are players in pain signaling and inflammation. Both oral and topical prednisone applications are prescribed to treat skin conditions such as eczema.

Emotional and Sleep Disorders

  • A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology indicated that CBD may reduce the anxiety levels of those with social anxiety disorder.
  • A study showed CBD has the potential to provide similar effects as anti-depressants and to boost neurotransmission.
  • A 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal indicated that CBD had the potential to benefit those with sleep and anxiety disorders.
  • Mood swings, depression, dizziness, and insomnia are some of the most common side effects associated with prednisone use. CBD has been shown to help alleviate them.

CBD & Prednisone: Possible Drug Interactions

If you are considering combining CBD with prednisone, it is important to understand that there may be interactions between the two medications and it is not recommended.

Studies on Interaction Between CBD and Prednisone

The enzyme CYP3A4, a metabolite of the P450 enzyme family, is required to metabolize CBD.

  • A 2019 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, showed that immunosuppressants such as prednisone induce CP3A4. If you combine low doses of CBD with prednisone for a short period, the bioavailability of CBD decreases while the bioavailability of prednisone increases.

But if high doses of CBD are combined with prednisone over long periods of time, CBD may have the opposite reaction.

  • A 2011 study, published in Life Sciences, showed that using high doses of CBD for long periods increased its bioavailability while decreasing that of prednisone.

In other words, studies fail to give conclusive evidence on whether or not it is safe to mix the two, so doctors essentially err on the side of caution and do not recommend it…unless your doctor does. The possible outcome is that combining them could result in more adverse side effects from both medications.

Final Discussion

Both CBD and prednisone are effective in managing autoimmune diseases by reducing inflammation while suppressing the immune system. CBD has very few, if any, side effects while prednisone has an alarming list. If you are taking no corticosteroids, you may safely take CBD to treat your symptoms. If you are already taking prednisone, it is dangerous to simply stop taking it. With your doctor’s guidance, you may gradually reduce your dosage so that the symptoms are manageable until you stop it altogether. A final reminder that there is no cure for autoimmune diseases. Medications only alleviate the symptoms so that you are better able to function.

Sources:, Prednisone vs CBD For Autoimmune Diseases, CBD Oil and Prednisone, Aaron Wiegmann, Oct. 1, 2020


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