CBD for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
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Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or MCAS, is a condition that may affect as much as 17% of the US population. However, it is a poorly-understood condition, and many patients with MCAS become frustrated with the treatment they receive from the medical and pharmaceutical industries.
To that end, many MCAS patients look for remedies and relief outside of the traditional pharmaceutical industry. Today, we’re going to explore what MCAS is and talk about some of the treatment options originating with medical hemp.
What is MCAS?
MCAS stands for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, which is a medical condition characterized by the abnormal activation of mast cells in the body. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell that play a crucial role in the immune system’s response to pathogens and allergens.
Mast cells contain granules filled with various substances, including histamine, cytokines, and other inflammatory mediators. When mast cells are activated, these granules are released into the surrounding tissue in a process called degranulation.
Degranulation leads to an inflammatory response that is often painful and debilitating. This activation can occur in response to a wide range of triggers, such as allergens, strong scents, chemical exposures, infections, stress, temperature changes, and certain medications.
In the case of MCAS, mast cells are extremely sensitive and easily triggered, leading to excessive release of inflammatory mediators even in the absence of a major immune system threat. This chronic activation of mast cells can result in a wide array of symptoms that can affect the whole body as a system.
MCAS has a number of symptoms. Because this is a systemic concern, many of these symptoms affect the whole body. They include, but are not limited to:
- Skin-related symptoms: Itching, flushing, hives, rashes, and swelling (angioedema).
- Respiratory symptoms: Wheezing, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, and throat tightness.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and bloating.
- Cardiovascular symptoms: Rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and lightheadedness.
- Neurological symptoms: Brain fog, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Musculoskeletal symptoms: Joint and muscle pain, weakness, and stiffness.
- Systemic symptoms: Fatigue, malaise, and flu-like symptoms.
MCAS treatment is both preventative and reactionary. When we look at medical hemp and how it can be used for MCAS, it is typically used when an activation occurs.
MCAS and Inflammation
One of the most common reasons that people use medical cannabis or other hemp products is to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism of the body that occurs in response to injury or infection.
However, in the case of MCAS, the excessive activation of mast cells leads to persistent inflammation, even when there is no apparent injury or infection. This chronic inflammation can contribute to a variety of symptoms and health issues associated with MCAS, such as skin rashes, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory symptoms, cardiovascular issues, and even neurological symptoms.
CBD for MCAS
There are several avenues of treatment for MCAS. Some treatment is immediate and deals with the short-term effects of MCAS. When we look at the types of relief that cannabinoids can offer to MCAS patients, one of the first key elements that jumps out is CBD’s anti-inflammatory function.
CBD is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so for some symptoms of MCAS, such as rashes and swelling, a topical CBD application can help. Studies show that substances that activate cannabinoid receptors can help reduce the effects of histamine in the human skin.
Creams or lotions that contain substances similar to the ones produced naturally in our bodies, called endocannabinoids, might help relieve itching by reducing the release of granules from mast cells, and decreasing the amount of inflammation-causing histamine and cytokines. Cannabinoids like CBD can also have an analgesic effect on their own, which can help relieve itching and pain from mast cell activation.
CBD and Mast Cell Receptors
We have different receptors in our cells that can interact with cannabinoids. Two of them, CB2 and CB1, are directly related to mast cell inflammation. Of the two, CB2 is better-understood.
CB2 activation can regulate the production and release of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that control inflammation.
Cannabinoids that interact with CB2 can help decrease the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and promote the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines, shifting the immune response towards a more balanced and less inflammatory state.
Recently, researchers discovered that the CB1 receptor is found in mast cells. Both CB1 and CB2 have effects on mast cells, particularly a molecule called cAMP. cAMP is a messenger molecule found in mast cells, and it is linked to degranulation. A study looking at the relationship between these two receptors and cAMP found that CB1 can cause a long-term increase in cAMP levels in mast cells. An increase in cAMP levels helps prevent mast cells from releasing substances that cause inflammation, which may explain CB1’s anti-inflammatory effects.
CBD interacts with both types of receptors and can stop other substances from activating these receptors. This could explain why CBD can help reduce the unwanted movement of immune cells during a mast cell activation. This study points out that cannabinoids act as potential anti-inflammatory against as part of their general immunosuppressive function, and that the study’s results indicate that exposure to cannabinoids would markedly suppress the acute, inflammatory functions of mast cells.
CBG and MCAS
CBG (cannabigerol) is another cannabinoid that has potential as a treatment for MCAS. While CBG does interact with CB1 and CB2, it has less has less receptor activity there than CBD does. However, it has much stronger interaction with several other cell signaling pathways, including the transient receptor proteins TRPA1, TRPV1, TRPV2. TRPV3, TRPV4, and TRPM8. Of these, all but TRPM8 have been identified as playing a role in mast cell activation.
- TRPA1: Activation can lead to mast cell degranulation
- TRPV1: Associated with pain sensation and contributes to inflammation and degranulation in mast cells.
- TRPV2: Not as well-understood but seems to be linked to degranulation and activation in mast cells
- TRPV3: Linked to the release of histamine in mast cell activation
- TRPV4: Releases several inflammatory compounds in mast cells.
CBG engages with all of these receptors, which may indicate that it can help regulate these cells and prevent degranulation during mast cell activation.
Other Cannabinoids for MCAS
While CBD and CBG have the most evidence for their effects on mast cells, there is also a case to be made for the entourage effect. In vivo studies have shown that combinations of cannabinoids exert the best anti-inflammatory effects
If you are interested in trying medical hemp for MCAS or other mast cell issues, Myriam’s Hemp offers several full-spectrum, lab-tested products that may help with this inflammatory disease.
- CBG 1200, a full-spectrum CBG-forward tincture
- Daily 100 CBD, a full-spectrum CBD oil that contains other cannabinoids for the entourage effect
- CBD+CBDa, a unique oil that combines CBD with the more bioavailable CBDa for faster action; very helpful for inflammation
- CBD Balm, which may help with the itching, swelling, and other skin irritation caused by MCAS
At Myriam’s Hemp, we want to provide you with options for managing your health conditions. We believe that everybody should have access to the information they need to make choices about their health. Contact us today if you have any questions about CBD, CBG, and our other premium cannabinoid products.
- An overview of the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor system and its therapeutic potential – PMC
- Anti-inflammatory potential of CB1-mediated cAMP elevation in mast cells
- Cannabinoid receptors and the regulation of immune response
- Cannabinoids and the immune system: potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases?
- How to Tell If You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – MCAS Symptoms
- Mast cells and inflammation – PMC
- Pharmacological treatment options for mast cell activation disease – PMC
- Systemic mast cell activation disease: the role of molecular genetic alterations in pathogenesis, heritability and diagnostics
- The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies – PMC
- The Pharmacological Case for Cannabigerol
- The Role of TRP Proteins in Mast Cells
- Topical cannabidiol (CBD) in skin pathology – A comprehensive review and prospects for new therapeutic opportunities