CBD oil and Lyme disease

by Apoorva Shivankar, M.D

cbd oil and lyme disease

A small tick can strip you off your life!!!!

This is a true story of a black-legged (deer) tick that has created deadly chaos in Northern America and Europe especially in the summers. Fond of biting, these ticks never spare a chance to bite you and it’s this bite thats decides your future. If contaminated with Borrelia bacterium (bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi or Borrelia mayonii), BEWARE!! you are at risk of developing Lyme disease, a potential life-changer in the absence of early treatment.

What is this LYME disease?

A tick-borne zoonotic disease wherein the causative bacteria are transmitted from infected rodents or deer or birds to humans. Lyme spreads with the speed of air accounting for around 3,00,000 cases every year in North America itself, forget about the rest of the world.

How does Lyme disease present?

  • Erythema migrans: flat, circular, bull-eye shaped rash appears at the site of bite which spreads centrifugally with central clearing. Sometimes multiple rashes may occur as a reaction to the bacterial movement throughout the body.
  • Fatigue
  • Head-ache and muscle and joint pain
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

These tell-tale signs develop in 3-30 days of bite and call for medical attention in order to prevent development of dreaded chronic Lyme disease.

Is chronic LYME really so bad?

Yes, actually its worse than what we can imagine. Chronic Lyme disease starts showing up 4-6 months after the initial bite and presents as

  • unbearable crippling joint and bodily pains severe enough to disturb your sleep and restrict your motility to the cot area. Yes, even visiting the loo can become a herculean task for many patients.
  • Other serious issues involve inflammation of
    • Heart (Carditis) causing chest pains, palpitations.
    • Brain (Meningitis) leading to irritability, cognitive decline, impaired memory, cloudiness of mind, etc
    • Nerves (Neuritis): All the 12 cranial nerves are at the risk of inflammation resulting in facial palsies (most common-Bells’ palsy involving 7th cranial nerve).
    • Other nerve involvements may cause loss of taste, smell and even numbness and tingling on your face.
  • Hypersensitivity to light.
  • Psychiatric illnesses like paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are commonly associated.
  • Mood derangements like anxiety/depression, loss of self-esteem and suicidal tendencies make it graver .
  • Your entire personality can be paralysed. So, never take tick bites lightly.


Good part

Sad part

  • Tick needs 36 hours to transmit the disease and if it is removed from the body before 36 hours, chances of contracting Lyme are almost nil.
  • Not contagious.
  • Not transmitted through air, food, water or direct contact.



  • Tick injects a numbing agent first to mask its presence and bite-pain.
  • 20-40% victims do not develop the rash.
  • Tick usually goes unnoticed because of its exceptionally small size (like poppy seeds).
  • Initial symptoms are too mild and generalized to raise any suspicion.
  • Lyme disease can be effectively tamed without any damage with the antibiotics if caught earlier.


  • Tick bites if left unattended, result in chronic Lyme disease which can take a great toll on quality of life in future.


What adds to the misery is

  • Often left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to generalized symptoms and lack of awareness.
  • This tick can reside on the migratory birds and can carry the bacterium anywhere on the planet.
  • So far there is no medicine or vaccine against chronic Lyme disease.
  • Self-remittance rate is too low.

Current treatment for Lyme disease:

Early phases and recurring flare-ups are being treated by antibiotics such as doxycycline but we still lack any definitive treatment modality for chronic Lyme disease.

With this in mind, researchers shifted their focus towards the wonder drug of modern medicine ‘THE CANNABIDIOL’ to aid chronic Lyme and to their delight, preliminary studies came out with positive results too. CBD never disappoints.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil in brief:

Cannabidiol is extracted from the industrial hemp plant, a variety of cannabis sativa / indica. In spite of its cannabis origin, this CBD oil is legal and won’t get you high as here the content of psychoactive THC is strictly limited to <0.3%. This CBD is already ruling the medical world due to its immense therapeutic potential benefitting almost every ailment right from skin acne to sleep disorders. You see it everywhere.

CBD is a treasure of valuable health-promoting properties. It is a strong

  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-anxiety drug
  • Anti-depressant
  • Stress-buster
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Neuroprotector
  • Gut-heath promotor
  • Aids sleep disorders
  • Immune modulator

and what not.

And all this comes by virtue of its ability to modulate the most efficient homeostatic regulator system spread throughout the body – THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM- which regulates mood, cognition, stress, hunger, energy level, pain, sleep, among many others via receptors and endogenous cannabinoids.

Any deviation from normal such as anxiety, pain, sleep disorder, inflammation, depression, etc are the after-effects of endocannabinoid system deficiency. CBD restores this deficiency by preventing the breakdown of endogenous cannabinoids and thus, keeps ECS working. In this way, CBD restores the balance and relieves the symptoms of varied illnesses.

What makes CBD an apt drug to treat Lyme disease?

If you observe carefully, almost every symptom of chronic Lyme disease can be matched with some or other property of CBD, indicating that CBD may help in diminishing the symptoms of Lyme patients which actually means a lot to the sufferers. Makes sense, isn’t it?

Checking one by one

  1. Most of the Lyme disease symptoms are a result of widespread inflammatory cytokines released by T cells in response to invading bacterial proteins. CBD inhibits this inflammation by activating the CB2 receptors (ECS) located in T cells. Thus, the anti-inflammatory property of CBD takes care of palpitations, chest pain (carditis), irritability, mental fogginess (meningitis) or tingling, numbness (neuritis) and many other Lyme disease symptoms.

  2. With its strong ability to relieve pain, CBD can free patients from their unbearable headaches, body aches, muscle and joint pain and even neuropathic pain.

  3. CBD brings relief from anxiety and depression which easily sets-in in a Lyme patient due to the debilitating nature of the disease.

  4. A Lyme patient can enjoy his long-forgotten night sleep by means of the sleep-enhancing, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and stress-bursting virtues of CBD.

  5. CBD helps to calm and relax the fast-pacing brains providing some relief and rest crucial to a healthy mind and body.

  6. By strengthening the immune system, CBD helps the body to fight against the attacking bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. CBD does this by activating the CB2 receptors present in white blood cells and thus stimulate B cells to make antibodies and T cell to fight against bacteria and viruses.

  7. As an antibiotic: Studies show that CBD as well as other cannabinoids like THC, CBN, CBG and CBC possess antibacterial properties which help them to fight against the causative agents of a variety of disorders. Lyme can be one of them too. This is supported by a study published in 2008 which documented that CBD can be effective against an “antibiotic-resistant” strain of MRSA too.

  8. Prevents drug resistance: Though antibiotics carry the potential of kicking off Lyme disease in the early phases, complete treatment needs a long-term antibiotic course which can increase the risk of drug resistance. CBD by boosting the effect of antibiotics can reduce the dose required and thus the chances of drug resistance too.

  9. As compared to antibiotics, CBD is a natural herb with similar effects, nil side-effects and can restore the quality of life in chronic Lyme disease patients making them the more preferred one.

  10. CBD is legal and easily available too.

  11. Moreover, it is free from any intoxicating and euphoriating effects in contrast to the THC.

Though there are no direct studies suggesting the role of CBD in Lyme disease treatment, ample evidence for each of its possible role in treating the symptoms is available, potentiating the possibility of CBDs effectiveness in Lyme disease.

First-hand testimonials from many patients are available in favour of CBDs role in Lyme treatment.

Can CBD cause Herxing?

Yes, like any other medication used to treat an infection or disease, CBD also owing to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties can cause HERXING.

  • Herxing is nothing but an immediate immune response that occurs after taking medicine before the actual effect becomes evident and usually stays for 3-7 days.
  • It typically says- It will get worse before it gets better.
  • It is actually a good reaction, a natural way of your body to tell that it’s already set into action to detoxify itself.
  • So, don’t be discouraged if you experience flu-like symptoms, headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, sweating, chills or nausea, after taking CBD, it is just your immune reacting to the toxins that are released by rapid detoxification but are yet to be eliminated.
  • If you are still worried about these effects, drink loads of water, take detox bath and deep tissue massages to accelerate the elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Another way to avoid an herxing reaction is to take CBD products, low and slow to prevent rapid initial detox, and thus, detox and elimination go hand in hand without stressing the immune system.

What foods should be avoided with Lyme disease?

Anything that feeds the bacteria or increases inflammation or suppresses immune response should be a strict no for someone with Lyme disease symptoms. These include:

  1. Sugars: they form a great fuel for bacterial growth, suppress immunity and thus maximize sufferings. So, sugars in any form particularly refined sugars and fruits top the list of foods to be avoided.
  2. Soy, Gluten and dairy: All of them can increase inflammation within the body and hence should be avoided.
  3. Red meat or beef: They contain polyunsaturated fat that would increase oxidation and free radicals and thus should be avoided.
  4. Caffeine being a great cause of inflammation and rich source of sugars, should not be included in the diet plan for Lyme patients.

To conclude:

Based on the individual studies and testimonials, CBD shows a great potential of being an ideal, natural treatment option for Lyme disease. But further studies focussing on the direct effects of CBD in Lyme patients are needed before validating anything.


Q. How to decide a CBD oil dose for Lyme disease?

It depends on the individuals’ weight, body chemistry, type and severity of the symptoms and even the form (isolate, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum) of CBD oil used.

It is advised to consult a doctor for the exact dosing. If not possible, use a step-up approach, starting with a lower dose stepping up till you get the desired effects of CBD. Splitting the dose into 2 or 3 smaller doses is better than consuming a single high dose.

Q. Diseases that can be confused with Lyme diagnosis?

  • Generalized pain,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome,
  • Fibromyalgia,
  • Drug abuse, etc.

Q. How to select the best CBD for Lyme?

  • Select best quality, organically cultivated, branded, hemp-derived CBD products.
  • Check the label for contents, quantity and THC levels.
  • Say no to heavy metals, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colouring agents, pesticide.
  • Should be third party tested.
  • Prefer full-spectrum CBD products because the ‘entourage effect’ ensures maximum health benefits.

Q. What is the difference between Medical Marijuana and CBD?

  • Medical marijuana is the same as recreational marijuana (THC-rich) used for medical purposes. Here the marijuana cannabinoids are derived from dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant whereas CBD is strictly obtained from industrialized hemp plant and possess no recreational properties.
  • Medical marijuana is THC-loaded, whereas hemp CBD products contain minimal amount of THC(<0.3%).
  • With medical marijuana, you can experience high and can even get addicted due to its psychoactive THC content.
  • Medical marijuana is a prescription drug whereas CBD is available OTC.






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