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prednisone and cbd oil

CBD as a Steroid Sparing Treatment

abstract image of syringe

Most of us have been prescribed steroids by a doctor at some point in our lives. They are often the go-to choice to treat sudden bouts of inflammation, allergies or when a physician is simply stuck on what to give a patient. Their immediate effects may seem miraculous. (Oh wow suddenly I have so much energy, my appetite’s back, and my mysterious rash disappeared.) But long-term steroid use comes with a host of side effects.

Enter cannabidiol ( CBD ), an unexpected contender for a novel steroid sparing treatment of the future.

The World Goes Wild About Steroids

After their first recorded use for rheumatoid arthritis in 1948, 1 corticosteroids (steroids) quickly became the main immunosuppressive treatment for patients with systemic inflammatory conditions or to prevent rejection after organ transplants. So transformative were their effects that Dr. Philip Hench, Edward Calvin Kendall and Tadeus Reichstein were awarded the 1950 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the hormone cortisone and its clinical application in rheumatoid arthritis.

A crowd pleaser with patients, steroids were often overprescribed by doctors. Before long a link between steroids and increased morbidity in patients became apparent, and researchers began to find ‘steroid sparing’ immunosuppressant drugs. That said, to this day steroids continue to be prescribed (my dog even had a short dose for a mystery itch in her right ear), although most physicians limit this to short periods of time.

There’s no get-out-of jail-free pass with steroids, which can cause unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects.

What are Steroids?

It was Dr. Philip Hench who first posited that steroids – hormones produced in the adrenal glands – alleviate pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. With the development of corticosteroid drugs like cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone that mimic our endogenous steroids, a new effective way was discovered to reduce inflammation in the body.

But there’s no ‘get out of jail free’ pass with steroids, as their use is often accompanied by unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. 2 These include glaucoma, cataracts, fluid retention, high blood pressure, mood swings, weight gain, diabetes, increased risk of infections, osteoporosis, suppressed adrenal gland function, thin skin, and slower wound healing.

Consequently, doctors only prescribe steroids as a short-term solution, a measure considered relatively safe. Hence, steroids are commonly given to patients with sudden flare ups in autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease when short, sharp immunosuppression is required.

However, it’s not just the steroid side effects that can be problematic for patients. Coming off steroids, particularly when a patient has been prescribed short term high doses or lower doses over a longer period of time can result in ‘steroid withdrawal syndrome.’ 3 This happens when the body has become reliant on the ‘pharmaceutical’ steroids, leading its own endogenous production through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal ( HPA ) axis to weaken and flatline.

As such, patients should not suddenly stop taking steroids. Instead the dose has to be gradually tapered downwards, otherwise symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and headaches can occur.

Steroid Withdrawal

Eve Roginska, a London based tattoo artist, became dangerously ill with a sudden inflammatory brain condition and was initially given high doses of intravenous steroids. She had been taking steroids for the last two years – but stopping was difficult.

Over time Eve was able to gradually lower the dose. However, whenever she tried to drop below 20mg of steroids a day, she experienced debilitating withdrawal symptoms similar to coming off drugs.

“I was having terrible migraines, and my painkillers weren’t working and sometimes this lasted all day,” recalls Eve. “I had terrible trouble sleeping. Even sleeping tablets didn’t work for me anymore. Then the whole day my body would feel exhausted. A lot of fatigue and a lot of muscle pain. I had brain fog continuously and kept forgetting things.”

Eve was familiar with CBD oil, so she decided to see if it could ease her withdrawal symptoms. This may have been little more than an educated hunch, but it was one that paid off.

“Three days after starting with CBD , my migraines just went away. After a week or two taking it, I felt like a normal person,” she says.

Eve has now reduced her steroids to 1mg a day and hopes to quit them completely by the summer. She’s has no doubt about the difference CBD has made to her recovery.

“I would probably have to be on steroids for the rest of my life if it wasn’t for this oil,” she acknowledges. “It’s returned my life back.”

Steroid Sparing Drugs

Unbeknownst to Eve, around the same time she was using CBD to wean herself off steroids, some Israeli scientists were actually researching CBD as a steroid sparing treatment.

Steroid sparing agents 4 are drugs that either allow for a reduction in the amount of steroids taken or can even be the first-line choice for suppressing the immune system. Examples of steroid sparing drugs include cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, azathioprine, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, and sirolimus. That’s not to say that taking steroid sparing agents is any walk in the park. Many of them are classed as chemotherapy drugs and come with their own unpleasant side effects.

“I would probably have to be on steroids for the rest of my life if not for CBD oil.”

Eve herself began taking methotrexate a year into her illness and for the first few months experienced diarrhoea, hair loss, nausea, nail and skin problems, fatigue, abdominal bloating, disruption to her menstrual cycle, urinary tract infections, and mouth ulcers. Long term use of immunosuppressants has also been linked to a greater risk of developing cancer in later life. 5

Little wonder that the hunt is on for less harmful immunosuppressive, steroid sparing agents – and CBD could be near the front of the pack.

Scientists know that CBD has an overall anti-inflammatory/immunosuppressive effect by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines 6 and inhibiting T-cell function. 7 This probably explains why many patients with autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis report an improvement in symptoms when taking CBD oil.

Clinical Trials for CBD

Steroid sparing drugs are often first developed to prevent rejection after transplants, and this holds true for CBD , as well. In a small phase II clinical trial, 8 Israeli researchers wanted to see whether CBD could prevent graft-versus-host disease ( GVHD ) in steroid-resistant patients. Often a fatal condition, GVHD occurs after a bone marrow transplant when the donated bone marrow views the recipient’s body as foreign and attacks it.

Nine out of the ten subjects responded to the CBD treatment, with most of them achieving a ‘complete response.’ While the results have not been published in a peer reviewed journal, the team behind the study maintain CBD “either enhanced the therapeutic effect of steroids or reduced steroid dosage while maintaining or improving the steroid’s therapeutic effect. Even more surprisingly, patients resistant to steroid treatment also presented significant improvement under the CBD treatment.”

Buoyed by these encouraging results, they have begun recruiting for phase II clinical trials for CBD as a steroid sparing treatment in Crohn’s disease 9 and autoimmune hepatitis. 10 In both trials, patients will gradually shift from their current treatment (steroids or immunosuppressants) to just taking 300mg of synthetic CBD daily.

Of course, an early stage phase II study does not mean that CBD , synthetic or otherwise, is a proven and safe alternative to steroids or other immunosuppressant drugs. Furthermore, any decision to reduce or come off steroids, should always be carried out in conjunction with your physician. But it does point towards a possible future when CBD could be a more benign but equally effective alternative to steroids after transplants and in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Mary Biles, a Project CBD Contributing Writer, is a journalist, blogger and educator with a background in holistic health. Based between the UK and Spain, she is committed to accurately reporting advances in medical cannabis research. Copyright, Project CBD . May not be reprinted without permission.

Could cannabidiol be a breakthrough therapy to replace or lessen the use of steroids?

CBD oil to reduce prednisone

Edited 6 months ago , 23 users are following.

Nanduff

Nanduff

Has anyone tried taking CBD Hemp oil to reduce prednisone? I just started on 15mg capsules (2 days) and I feel relief. I’ve had PMR for 5 years and can’t seem to get below 8 mg of pred without a flare

1 like, 25 replies

whatapp

25 Replies

Anhaga

Anhaga Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

whatapp

Mrs.Mac-Canada Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

The short answer in my experience is yes, I believe it is helping me.

I just wrote you a long reply and it disappeared on me. I often have trouble using my iPad so could you PM me and we can exchange emails and do it that way. I can tell you more about it

whatapp

Mrs.Mac-Canada Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

whatapp

Mrs_Hobbles

Mrs_Hobbles Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

I’ve used CBD successfully for Fibromylgia but not instead of pred, would be very interested to hear peoples thoughts on it though!

whatapp

VickieS

VickieS Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

whatapp

marla.090252

marla.090252 Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

Hi Nanduff, I use CBD as well, and should remember to use it more often. . sigh. Pred brain. Yes, it works for me, but the high doses I need costs alot at the dispensary. I’m on the journey to reduce my Pred from original 15mg, to 12.5mg to 10mg, then using DSNS method I’m down to 7mg. Still have to reduce to 5mg before my hand surgeon will operate on a ruptured tendon in my finger. Even as slow as I’ve taken it, I’m flaring all the time. I get several days of being ok, then weather changes or my stress changes and I get walloped. When I vape the CBD, I’m good for about 2½ to 3 hours. But using it several times a day, I go thru my supply in short time, then back to the dispensary. I use the dried flower form of Hemp. I had to get a medical card, go to a Pain Specialist (more money) with my GP’s recommendation. Only these docs that could prescribe the use of medical marijuana or hemp.

Long story short, yes it works for me. Good luck on your journey!

whatapp

Nanduff

Nanduff marla.090252

Posted 2 years ago

I started taking CBD Hemp capsules..no THC. I’m taking 15 mg at night and it definitely seems to be helping. I’m on 7.5 mg of pred. I haven’t tried reducing yet but will in another week. My rheumi says to go down 1/2 mg every 2 weeks. I might try every 3 due to the numerous flares I’ve had over the years. Diagnosed in 2011😩 From what I’ve read from another member I might have to up the dose of CBD. I’ve never smoked and can’t get my head around vaping. My son in law has a prescription and vapes CBD with very low THC for his migraines and he sees a vast improvement. I live in the states and CBD Hemp oil can be purchased on line as well as in a health food store. It is a bit pricey .. but if I can off the pred..or at least under 5mg. I’ll pay th price.

Hope this helps!

Mrs.Mac-Canada marla.090252

Posted 2 years ago

i am using CBD oil to help me decrease my prednisone dose but not in lieu of taking enough prednisone to manage my inflammation. I think if you are having flares often you might try decreasing more slowly and never decrease before you are feeling well (as can be). After my last flare I made it back to 5mg and stayed there for 7 months then started to reduce very, very slowly. I have successfully made it to 3.5mg where I had flared twice before and I’m feeling good. I believe it is the CBD oil that has allowed me to do this especially since stress is my trigger and I have been going through some extremely difficult times with family.

I hope you are successful in getting down to the 5mg so you can have your surgery but go slowly so you avoid the seesaw with flares. They seem to get worse and harder to get back in control each time.

Anhaga

Anhaga Nanduff

Posted 2 years ago

At your dose level even three week intervals between tapers is probably too fast, especially as you describe having had “numerous flares”. Make it at least a month, each .5 reduction, and be aware of any increasing fatigue because that will mean your adrenals need a bit longer to catch up. I will be interested to learn if your taper proceeds uneventfully with the help of CBD.

Twopies

Twopies Anhaga

Posted 2 years ago

Anhaga

Anhaga Twopies

Posted 2 years ago

Nope, I think it would be counterproductive to use pred to deal with fatigue as it’s the pred which has caused it in the first place. I just go very slowly both so I don’t get a flare of PMR, which happened last year when I tried to go from 1.5 to 1, and also to make sure I don’t become ill from lack of cortisol. But that’s just me. I’m sure others have different ways, and I’m sure people have varying degrees of fatigue, and many maybe no problems at all! in my case I don’t have much stamina, but I don’t really get the deathly fatigue very often. It worries me that I get it at all by now, but there it is.

RD_Swede

RD_Swede Anhaga

Posted 2 years ago

I am soon 81 and have been off pred for almost 10 years. Fortunately no flares. I used pred for 3 1/2 years including the year on 5 mg.

Good luck to all from Ragnar

Twopies

Twopies Anhaga

Posted 2 years ago

Twopies

Twopies RD_Swede

Posted 2 years ago

ill be at 3 years in September, no end in sight. Thank you for your thoughtful words. I’m thinking staying at 5 is the way to go.

Twopies

Twopies

Posted 2 years ago

whoops. Can’t count. 2 years! (Blame it on pred head!)

Anhaga

Anhaga RD_Swede

Posted 2 years ago

And we are all eternally grateful to you for figuring out how to taper successfully! Unfortunately on pred I developed increased ocular pressure, high blood sugar (controlled by a very strict diet which sadly has prevented my regaining lost weight), possibly bone thinning (corrected though diet and exercise) and a tendency to be easily injured, rotator cuff, that kind of thing. I think I would be worse off if I had stayed at 5 for a long time. At the moment I’m hanging around the 1.5 – 2 level.

mike42494

mike42494 marla.090252

Posted 2 years ago

i have been on 10mg of prednisone for 3 years. i am tapering 1 mg every 3 weeks. I’m now at 7 mg daily. i started taking full spectrum cbd oil 6 weeks ago. i take 12.5 mg of cbd 3 x per day. it has really helped me. it takes a few weeks to feel any effect. i use LAZURUS full stength and since i am on disability the company gives a 60% DISCOUNT. A 6000mg bottle cost me $80.00 and will last 4 months.

marla.090252

marla.090252 mike42494

Posted 2 years ago

Hi Mike, (and all) It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life has been an up and down journey for me recently. I’m currently back down to 6 ½ mg Pred having had PMR now for over 2 years. Since my last posting, I’ve had several flares due to the stress of my father-in-law’s heart attack, subsequent kidney failure, and eventual passing just before Christmas.

I finally got back in touch with hand surgeon #2 and got a song and pony show of different diagnosis and prognosis than the first visit. I found another hand surgeon, and now because there has been so much time since the tendon rupture he suggests not doing the surgery. My right arm ulna head has some osteoarthritis. The rough calcification severed one of the two tendons on my little finger, the small extensor tendon. This new surgeon doesn’t think I’d gain more extension (lifting my little finger, right hand, above horizontal) than I have (which is none). I agree with him, that flexion (gripping) is more important. So I will live with it. He will go in later to scrape the ulnar head so it doesn’t abraid the other tendons.

Using the new full spectrum CBD oil I purchased, (25 mg/0.5ml per day), is so horrible tasting, that I’m researching gel capsules for liquids to fill for dosing, instead of putting the drops on the back of my tongue. I also found that taking it with food helps with stomach reflux, and retasting the CBD oil. Once I finish with this bottle, I’m going back to vaping it. My Firefly 2 is an awesome vape (it heats, doesn’t burn the flower. You inhale vapor not smoke, I’ve never coughed using it). The CBD flower I get from the dispensary is grown for no THC. I get no after-effects from vaping CBD, like I do with the oil. Some folks don’t mind the flavor of the oil, but I basically gag on it, because of its high percentage (1,500 mg per 30ml bottle) of plant extracts.

Does it work? Yes, if you can build up your system to it (takes about 3 weeks, daily dosing). I just prefer to vape it instead. Hemp is Cannabis. It’s the plants’ Genus, split into a variety of Species. All strains and varieties of THC plants are mixed CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG and others in a low percentage. I found if I vape a mix of Hemp (CBD) to THC in a 60:40 ratio, I get NO high from it. This happens because of what is called the entourage effect, the brain associates with both cannabinoid sites, CB1 and CB2. These sites are also located thru-out the body. It’s the entourage effect that negates the high, as long as you calculate the percentages of each flower type and mix what works for you. Each person is different, just like with Prednisone, and how it’s assimilated in our bodies.

The science of this interaction is what I have been studying for the last 2 years while vaping Medical Cannabis (I have a medical card from my State Massachusetts, USA). The difference is medical cannabis undergoes testing for purity, potency, % of a few other cannabinoids (listed above). This makes medical cannabis more expensive, but safer than “street” Cannabis. There are actually over 85 different cannabinoids the Cannabis plant provides. It’s a huge topic, and far to complex to go into here. But suffice it to say, vaping mixed CBD:THC works better for me than straight CBD.

Hope this helps. Good luck on your journey!

Has anyone tried taking CBD Hemp oil to reduce prednisone?   I just started on 15mg capsules (2 days) and I feel relief….