Cannabis is a drug that seems to improve, cure, and even cure many ailments and improve a patient's overall health. It may also play a role in sickle cell anemia treatment.
But does CBD, the non-psychoactive component of hemp help with this condition?
We'll discuss this more below, but first, let's take a look at cannabis as a whole.
Cannabis is a good pain reliever that can help you with some painful sickle cell symptoms. The herb is available by prescription to patients from certain parts of the world.
Sickle cell anemia is a disease characterized by deformed red blood cells, which causes pain and serious complications, such as inflammation and stroke.
The analgesic properties of cannabis may alleviate some of the symptoms of this disease that affects the quality of life.
We'll look into everything "sickle cell" in this article...
One study focused on identifying the potential health benefits of CBD for neurochemical changes and pain-related behavior in mice with sickle cell hemoglobin. The results of this study revealed that CBD shows the potential for pain reduction in mice.
Another study focused on determining the extent of cannabis use in sickle cell patients for pain and symptom relief. The results of the study led researchers to conclude that CBD has health benefits for sickle cell disease, including pain relief.
To continue, let's look into what is Sickle Cell Anemia and how CBD can treat Sickle Cell Anemia Symptoms.
What is Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary form of anemia, characterized by not enough healthy red blood cells to be able to carry enough oxygen to the body.
Your red blood cells are usually soft and round and move quickly through the blood vessels. In sickle cell anemia, red blood cells become stiff and sticky and have the shape of sickles or growing months.
These irregularly shaped cells lodge themselves in small blood vessels, which may slow or block blood flow and oxygen to certain parts of the body.
NOTE: There is no cure for most people who have sickle cell anemia, but treatments may relieve pain and help prevent pain from disturbing your quality of life.
There are many forms of sickle cells. The type you or your child inherits depends on a few factors, including the specific type of abnormal hemoglobin you have.
Hemoglobin SS, also known as sickle cell disease, is usually the most severe type of this disorder.
Other common forms include:
- Hemoglobin Sβ thalassemia
- Hemoglobin SC
There are rare types as well:
- Hemoglobin SE
- Hemoglobin SD
- Hemoglobin SO
What Causes Sickle Cell Anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is caused by a gene mutation responsible for creating the red iron-rich compound that gives the blood a reddish color (hemoglobin). Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.
In the case of sickle cells, abnormal hemoglobin leads to the staining, formation, and deformation of red blood cells.
Transmitted from generation to generation by a method known as autosomal recessive inheritance, the sickle cell gene is hereditary. This means that the mother and father must pass on the incorrect gene form for the child to be affected.
If only one parent passes the sickle cell to the child, the child will have sickle cell property. With normal hemoglobin gene and defective gene form, people with sickle cell trait produce both normal hemoglobin and sickle cell hemoglobin.
Your blood may contain sickle cells, but they usually have no symptoms. But they transmit the disease, which means they can pass the gene on to their children.
Treatment Options for Sickle Cell Anemia
If you have sickle cell trait, consulting with a genetic counselor before attempting conception can help you understand the risk of a child with sickle cell anemia.
Your doctor may also explain the possible treatment, preventative measures, and reproductive options.
While CBD is not a cure for any disease, it has been shown to help with symptoms you may be experiencing. If you want relief and think CBD may be a solution for you, be sure to check out Mana Artisan Botanics™
Medications used to treat sickle cells include:
- Antibiotics: Children with sickle cell anemia may start taking the antibiotic penicillin at about two months of age and continue to make it until they are at least five years old.
This helps prevent infections, such as pneumonia, which can be devastating to a baby or child with sickle cell anemia.
- Pain Relief Medications: To help relieve pain during a sickle cell crisis, your doctor may prescribe painkillers.
- Hydroxyurea (Droxia, Hydrea): Once a day, taking hydroxyurea reduces the incidence of painful attacks and may reduce the need for blood transfusions or hospitalizations.
Hydroxyurea appears to stimulate the production of fetal hemoglobin, a type of hemoglobin found in newborns that helps prevent sickle cell formation.
You can do these at home to relieve sickle cell symptoms:
- Use a protective heating pad to relieve pain.
- Take folic acid supplements as recommended by your doctor.
- Consume enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This can help your body produce more red blood cells.
- Drink more water to reduce the risk of sickle cell crisis.
- Exercise regularly and reduce stress to reduce seizures.
- If you think you have an infection, contact your doctor immediately. Early treatment of the disease can prevent a complete crisis.
- Support groups can also help you cope with this disease.
Cannabis may not be a panacea for everyone, but its usefulness and versatility are for many people, including people with sickle cell disease.
In addition to stimulating the euphoric effect on mood, cannabis has both analgesic (pain relief) and anti-inflammatory (anti-inflammatory) properties that are particularly beneficial for sickle cell patients.
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How CBD Can Treat Sickle Cell Anemia Symptoms
Common sickle cell symptoms include:
- A lack of red blood cells, which causes anemia.
- Sickle fever episodes in which congested parts of the circulatory system swell and inflame, causing throbbing/pain relieved by medication alone and increased blood circulation
- Swelling of arms and legs
- Inflammation and damage to the spleen and internal organs which can lead to frequent infections
- Slow growth and late puberty.
- Vision problems
- Stroke risk
Because the main symptom associated with this condition is prolonged pain, the patient's quality of life is significantly affected by symptoms.
Pharmaceutical analgesics are often used, but they pose the risk of addiction and overdose.
CBD could be beneficial for the condition in this regard and is known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Also, the herb is very safe.
Treating pain that is associated with sickle cell anemia is also more critical than merely managing pain. The pain caused by the disease starts with inflammation, tissue necrosis, and vascular occlusion.
This means that treating cannabis pain can help reduce tissue damage. Also, cannabinoids such as CBD have important anti-inflammatory mechanisms that can be particularly beneficial.
Because CBD is not psychoactive, it offers the opportunity for patients who do not want or cannot manage the mind-altering effects of THC.
Research in this area is not well developed. However, a study published in the journal, "Blood" showed the effects of cannabinoids on mice expressing human falciform hemoglobin.
Cannabinoids have been shown to reduce pain in mice.
What's the CBD Dosage for Sickle CEll Anemia?
Based on widespread anecdotal evidence only, the standard CBD dosage recommendation may depend on your body weight. Start with 1 to 6 mg for every 10 pounds of body weight.
We've built a calculator for you so that you can find the lowest starting dose for your body weight below:
The above dosage recommendation is general and merely a suggestion. Your case may differ in that you may need a lot more, while others may need a lot less. Please consult with your physician before supplementing your treatment with CBD.
Sickle cell patients have a reduced life expectancy. Although there is no single treatment for sickle cell disease, the studies described above reveal that CBD has potential health benefits for this disease.
Therefore, it is reasonable to consider taking CBD as a dietary supplement for sickle cell disease. CBD is a non-psychoactive natural compound.
Kohli, D., Li, Y., Khasabov, S., Gupta, P., Kehl, L., Ericson, M., Nguyen, J., Gupta, V., Hebbel, R., Simone, D. and Gupta, K. (2010). Pain-related behaviors and neurochemical alterations in mice expressing sickle hemoglobin: modulation by cannabinoids. Blood, 116(3), pp.456-465.
Vincent, L., Vang, D., Nguyen, J., Benson, B., Lei, J. and Gupta, K. (2015). Cannabinoid receptor-specific mechanisms to alleviate pain in sickle cell anemia via inhibition of mast cell activation and neurogenic inflammation. Haematologica, 101(5), pp.566-577.
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Sickle cell anemia - Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sickle-cell-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355876 [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].WebMD. (2019). What is Sickle Cell Disease?. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-sickle-cell-disease [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].