Cannabis Helps With Arthritis Pain And Inflammation?

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Cannabis Helps With Arthritis Pain And Inflammation?

Chronic arthritis is the most common cause of disability. There is no pharmacological cure and the number of people affected by this disease is constantly increasing. Lab studies and patients’ personal experience confirm that THC and CBD can reduce pain and inflammation when applied as a treatment for arthritis, yet complete clinical evidence is missing.


Arthritis affects joints with pain, swelling and stiffness. The disease usually starts in middle-age, when about one in ten people begin living with some form of arthritis. The most common forms are osteoarthritis rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and septic arthritis. Pain is a common symptom in all types of arthritis, and only a few medicines can reduce this chronic condition. Many patients become addicted to opiate painkillers, risking death or miserable living conditions. In North American States, where cannabis is now legal, many people started cannabis therapies instead of painkillers, or to reduce their opiate intake. In these States, deaths from medical opiate use have gone down by 25 percent within a few years.


Cannabis is not a new treatment for arthritis. From ancient Chinese medicine up to Western official pharmacopoeia until late thirties’ prohibitionism, cannabis extracts were available at the shaman’s or off the shelves in American and European pharmacies for treating pain from different origin.

Evidence from latest research suggests that THC, CBD and the whole cannabis phytocomplex have therapeutic action in the treatment of chronic pain and inflammation. Lab tests and some clinical evidence show that the anti-inflammatory action of cannabinoids can slow down arthritis progress.

This 2007 study indicates that our nerves are full with cannabinoid receptors, and the peripheral CB1 receptors may be important targets in controlling osteoarthritis pain. The cannabinoid receptor system is found as target for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis pain treatment also by this 2008 study. A few years later, in 2014 this other study analyzed how the endocannabinoid system is involved in modulating osteoarthritis pain. Much more lab research is now going on, while on the clinical front the cannabis-based patented medicine Sativex showed a “significant analgesic effect in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis and caused a significant suppression of the disease activity”.


CBD is on the science radar because of its efficacy as an anti-arthritic agent without the psychotropic effects of THC. One of the first studies on CBD action suggested a possible oral intake of CBD as an anti-arthritic substance, while a more recent research concludes that a CBD-derived synthetic cannabinoid may represent a potential novel drug for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Topical preparations with CBD are also under analysis because of their therapeutic potential without side effects. The action of cannabis topicals on rheumatoid arthritis was analyzed in a 2016 research, indicating that topical CBD applications relief arthritis pains and inflammation in rats without causing evident adverse effects. The CBD receptor CB2 also regulates central sensitization and pain responses associated with osteoarthritis of the knee joint, according to this 2013 research. We always have to remind, that animal trials results do not necessarily lead into successful human trials, and subsequent approved treatments.





All research evidence is telling us, that both CBD's and THC's immune system modulation activity can help autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These two cannabinoids have been found to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and to be able to reduce the anxiety and depression, that often come together with severe diseases. At least in lab research, and in (a lot) of patients’ experience, cannabis derivatives can ease both the symptoms of arthritis and the adverse effects of painkillers.

Despite some recent progress in the “official” clinical research, the lack of structured data behind the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment alternative for arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis is preventing today's healthcare personnel to be provided with specific treatment protocols. At the same time, an array of reliable cannabinoid products designed for human health is available, and beyond statistics, people are finding them effective. This said, the effects of phytotherapy on chronic pain, and pain reduction therapies in general, can widely vary according to patient’s specific condition.

Cannabis edibles, oils or inhalable extracts can help easing different kinds of joint pain. Balms and cannabis-infused topicals allow patients to target only the painful areas. It is reported, that these preparations can help almost instantaneously with pain relief. These first promising results are pushing the research towards new cannabinoid-based therapies, that will hopefully treat arthritis. More evidence is needed. Treatment protocols will be welcome in order to help patients getting the best from what they already experimented with cannabis self-medications.



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