Arthritis is any joint disorder that involves the inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis affects millions of adults throughout the U.S. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation estimates that 54.4 million adults in the U.S. have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Some experts suggest this umbrella term for joint pain and diseases is exceeding epidemic proportions. Over time, our joints can fall prey to overuse or disease. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and a limited range of motion.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has quickly become the hot ticket item for chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and many more conditions. Despite its mainstream relevance, there still isn’t definitive proof of CBD’s effectiveness in human trials. Research based on animals, however, indicates that this non-intoxicating cannabinoid can reduce symptoms associated with arthritis conditions.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis isn’t just one condition, but over 100 different conditions affecting billions of people throughout the world. If you or someone you know has suffered from arthritis, you know the level of pain and swelling that affects the joints. Tender and stiff joints can make daily activities more difficult. In terms of arthritis conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common types.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is more common among seniors, athletes, and those with physically demanding occupations. OA mainly affects the knees, neck, lower back, and hips. Essentially, the cartilage that’s supposed to be a buffer between the bones begins to wear down over time. The breakage can lead to inflammation and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not brought on by overuse like OA. Instead, the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. Untreated rheumatoid arthritis can damage cartilage and lead to unstable joints and even deformities. Other autoimmune disorders can cause damage to the joints and organs, too.
CBD as a Complementary Treatment Option
Treatment for arthritis varies based on type, but can include joint injections or surgery to alleviate the painful symptoms. Medication may also be used to dull the pain. These treatments can come with a host of severe side effects. Many patients who have found limited relief with traditional treatment or want to limit their medication dosage turn to medical cannabis.
CBD is just one of over 100 different therapeutic cannabinoid compounds. The most popular, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is touted for its mind-altering properties. CBD, however, doesn’t act on the same cannabinoid receptors or even in the same way as THC. For one, CBD doesn’t get patients high. Many arthritis patients have proclaimed their adoration for this newly available medicinal product.
How Does CBD Work
CBD can be taken in many ways: as an oil, capsule, edible, flower, topical, transdermal patch, suppository, and more. CBD’s wide range of delivery methods makes it easy for nearly everyone to reap the benefits of this major cannabinoid. When consumed, CBD acts on our body’s system of cannabinoid receptors known as the endocannabinoid system.
Our endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining a balance of biological functions including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and more. The THC compound binds to the two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CBD, however, doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors. More research is needed to find out how exactly CBD interacts with our body, but evidence suggests that CBD stimulates the production of the body’s natural endocannabinoids and sometimes blocks cannabinoid receptors.
A 2006 study researched the “tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.” 31 patients were dosed with the oromucosal spray for five weeks. Five weeks of treatment with the medication “produced statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, [and] quality of sleep.” Interestingly, the treatment had minimal effect on morning joint stiffness.
A 2008 review looked through the research on cannabinoids and pain management. Researchers concluded that CBD was effective at reducing pain sensitivity and improving sleep. A 2016 study tested the effects of transdermal CBD to reduce inflammation and pain in rats. Research results show that the CBD gel reduced joint inflammation and pain.
A study published in 2017 on rats with osteoarthritis found that local CBD application reduced pain related to arthritis and the incidence of nerve damage in the joints. Another study published in 2018 found that CBD has immunosuppressive properties that alleviated multiple sclerosis in rats. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation that damages the spine.
Using CBD for Arthritis
CBD is widely accessible as an oil, topical, edible, or vape. Arthritis patients should consult with a doctor before introducing CBD into their treatment regimen. For new users, it’s important to start off with the lowest dose of CBD possible to gauge its effects on pain and inflammation. If larger doses are needed, patients can gradually and slowly increase the dosage to achieve their desired results.
CBD’s effects depend on the type of arthritis the person has, the person’s genetics, the quality of CBD, the mode of administration, and the medical interactions between CBD and other medications. Many new users start off with 5 mg or less of CBD once or twice a day. Some users, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis, might need as much as 100 mg of CBD. Stronger pain relief may be achieved with a product containing THC also.
Smoking and vaping CBD can provide fast-acting effects. Edible take about an hour to take effect but can last longer than most delivery methods. Topicals and transdermals act locally on joint pain that is flaring up.
Make sure to get CBD that has been lab-tested for purity and potency. CBD is a relatively new compound that requires more research to assess its efficacy. Before taking CBD or choosing a specific brand of products, do diligent research on customer reviews, ingredients, lab test results, and more. A bit of research can help you consume CBD safely and effectively.
To learn more about treating arthritis with cannabis, enroll in Cannabis Training University today!