CBD is an increasingly popular treatment for a range of chronic pain conditions. Now sufferers of arthritis are also turning to this natural medicine as a way to alleviate their painful symptoms.
According to the Arthritis Foundation’s 2017 report, it’s believed that 91 million Americans may suffer from Arthritis. This painful condition is characterized namely by inflammation and wearing down of the joints. Researchers have been looking into CBD’s effects on Arthritis. So far it’s showing interesting results on managing the chronic pain that comes with the condition. But how exactly does CBD work as a treatment for arthritis? Well first, we need to understand the condition itself.
What Is Arthritis?
There are two main types of Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. The body mistakenly attacks the joints instead of foreign substances like bacteria. This results in inflammation and pain around the joint areas. With Osteoarthritis (OA), the cartilage between the joints wears down. This wear and tear causes the bones to rub together, again causing in severe pain and inflammation in the joints.
Arthritis can damage not only the cartilage and tissue around the joints, but also the bones themselves in extreme cases. It can also restrict mobility in the sufferer and deform the joints
Why May CBD Work for Arthritis?
CBD oil interacts with two of the pain receptors in our bodies – CB1 and CB2 receptors. These are responsible for pain and the effects of inflammation.
CBD has anti-inflammatory effects too, which could help with the inflammation in the joints of those suffering with RA. We’ll look more into the research on this next.
CB2 has also been found to play a role in our immune systems. When we know that RA is an immune system problem which attacks our joints, it’s easy to see why CBD could work well for the symptoms of RA.
The first study of using cannabis to treat RA was in 2006. It used a CBD-infused medicine called Sativex. Researchers saw that the participants had less pain and reduced inflammation. And this also lead to the subjects getting better sleep. The issue here is that Sativex contains THC as well as CBD, which makes it hard to isolate the effects of CBD on its own as an arthritis treatment. Not to mention that THC is psychoactive too – an unwanted side affect for some people.
A 2016 study showed how using topical CBD gel on rats significantly reduced knee joint swelling and the thickening of the membranes associated with RA. It also showed therapeutic pain relieving effects.
Again in 2017, researchers tested the use of CBD on rats, but this time as a treatment for Osteoarthritis (OA). The study found that treating OA with CBD prevented later development of pain and nerve damage.
The obvious criticism with the last two studies is that the results may not directly translate from animals to humans. But there’s no doubt they give us a step in the right direction towards knowing more about CBD’s effectiveness in treating arthritis.
How to use CBD for Arthritis
There are many methods of using CBD to treat chronic pain conditions. It all depends on the nature of your condition as to what could work best for you.
When looking at CBD as a treatment for arthritis, the first thing to take into account is how the pain impacts you on a daily basis. Those suffering with high levels of pain during the day, for example, may benefit greatly from vaping CBD oil or smoking CBD flowers. This is because these methods enter the bloodstream quicker, allowing for more instant pain relief.
If you simply suffer from mild arthritis, topicals could be the way to go. We all have cannabinoid receptors in our skin, which allows for absorption of CBD for pain relief topically. If creaky inflamed joints are getting you down at the end of a long day, applying a CBD cream or salve could be a soothing remedy.
For longer lasting relief, taking CBD oil orally or using CBD edibles is another option. The results take longer to kick in, but tend to last for hours. It’s worth mentioning though, when ingesting CBD, you should go steady with the dosage until you find what works for you – so you don’t accidentally overdo it
No matter how you choose to use CBD, it’s always advised to consult your doctor and your medical cannabis provider before you go ahead. And when choosing a CBD oil, do your research to ensure you always go with trusted sellers.
CBD could well be a potential therapy to ease the symptoms of RA, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving abilities. But the number of human studies conducted on CBD as a treatment for arthritis is very little at this stage. In order to fully understand how CBD can improve the quality of life of RA sufferers, more research needs to be done which includes human trials.
So for now, the benefits are mostly anecdotal. However, if you’re living in a state or country where medical cannabis is legal, it’s definitely a promising option to look into.