Medical marijuana and candida can have a tendency to occur together, yet this information is unlikely to make it into the debate on legalizing marijuana. Like tobacco smoke which has been found to lead to an increase in the occurrence of oral candida infections, smoking marijuana can have the same effect. Candida, however, has been reported to be higher in marijuana users compared with tobacco users.
A marijuana high can lead to a candida low.
Because of the high concentration of chemicals, smoking a marijuana cigarette has been reported to have the effect on the tracheobronchial epithelium of smoking 20 tobacco cigarettes (Fligiel, 1997). Someone who smokes five marijuana cigarettes a week may take in as much cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day (Hale, 2007). This type of effect from marijuana smoke can induce tissue changes that weaken the tissues ability to fight off infections.
“Marijuana smoking resulted in a tar burden to the respiratory tract that was 3.5 to 4.5 times greater than that produced by tobacco smoking in the same subjects. Furthermore, smoking a single marijuana cigarette caused a fourfold greater increment in carboxyhemoglobin saturation than did smoking a single tobacco cigarette.”Researchers from the Netherlands state that, “it seems justified to conclude that with increasing prevalence of cannabis use, oral health care providers should be aware of cannabis-associated oral side effects such as xerostomia, leukoedema and an increased prevalence and density of Candida albicans.”
South African researchers demonstrated “an increased prevalence and density of C. albicans in cannabis users.”
UCLA researchers showed that, “marijuana smoking does decrease the ability of human PAM to destroy ingested Candida albicans.” PAM are Pulmonary Alveolar Macrophages, a particular type of immune cell in the lungs. The problem with macrophages, which are the immune system’s first line of defense against infections, is that overall, they are not very effective against candida to begin with. If marijuana is taking a somewhat effective responder and diminishing its effectiveness further, then we can expect that the body’s primary immune response to candida becomes null and void.
So far, the body’s best defense against candida appears to be a type of immune cell known as the Neutrophil. THC, the primary psychoactive component, or cannabinoid found in marijuana, has been shown to inhibit neutrophil recruitment. This would be a further green light to the spread of candida in the body.
Marijuana and vaginal candida
Other issues can arise from smoking marijuana, that outwardly appear to have nothing to do with the direct contact of marijuana smoke on the tissues of the body. In a study of 1248 women over a 12-month period, it was found that vaginal yeast colonization was associated with “marijuana use in the previous 4 months.” Scientists have yet to decipher how this happens, but it’s obvious that the link between marijuana and candida extends beyond the oral, tracheal, and lung tissues. It’s possible that marijuana’s inhibitory effect on neutrophils is in effect here.
As medical marijuana continues to be hot topic amongst voters, we shouldn’t forget about the link between marijuana and candida. Candida infections add considerable costs and extended stays in hospitals. Candida itself has been associated with contributing to or causing over 100 other conditions. Like any other drug, the side effects should be considered.
While Dr. Oz and Dr. Weil continue to support the use of marijuana, it’s unlikely that the marijuana and candida issue will be a part of that discussion. It should be.
Fortunately, I have found that smoking marijuana doesn’t prevent the correction of candida imbalances within the body, but based on the evidence here, it may predispose the body to a reoccurrence. As with all drugs, we need to manage the side effects and respond to them appropriately. Antibiotic use leads to systemic fungal candida infections and that needs to be corrected. Marijuana use, medical or otherwise, may be another contributing factor.