According to the Arthritis Foundation, an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from Arthritis. This number is projected to jump to 74 million by 2040.
Early diagnosis can be critical for successful treatment of this progressive disease. Common early symptoms include pain, swelling or stiffness in the joints.
Although this article is about CBD and arthritis pain, it is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Make sure and see a doctor to get to the root of the problem and explore all of the available treatment options.
That being said, many people are finding some relief from pain and inflammation caused by arthritis using CBD, and there is some medical research to back up those claims.
What is CBD?
CBD is another name for cannabidiol, one of hundreds of compounds that are naturally occurring in the cannabis family of plants. This compound (along with others) can be naturally extracted from hemp plants and is sold as a food supplement.
Since it is not psychoactive, CBD, unlike some other compounds found in marijuana (cannabis) such as THC, does not cause a “high” in the user. In addition, most manufacturers of CBD oil, edibles, creams or capsules extract their CBD oil from industrial hemp, which has very low levels of THC to begin with.
Over the last 30 years, scientific research has identified that the human body actually includes what is known as the endocannabinoid system.
This system includes special receptors that occur naturally in our bodies that are designed to respond to the presence of cannabinoids such as CBD and communicate to other important systems in the body to regulate a variety of functions including memory, appetite, stress responses, immune functions, skin health, sleep, pain, and the nervous system more generally speaking.
While we have known about the endocannabinoid system for about 20 years, the research on the healing properties of CBD and other cannabinoids found in cannabis has been slowed by overly restrictive policies due to the fact that marijuana is a schedule 1 controlled substance in the U.S.
However, research is now beginning to accelerate as other nations are taking the lead in understanding the therapeutic value of these compounds. In fact, the Australian Company GW pharmaceuticals has developed two drugs, Sativex® and Epidiolex®, which are both based on specific combinations of naturally occurring cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.
Can CBD reduce pain from Arthritis?
One of the most studied aspects of CBD and its effect on the human body is its ability to reduce pain.
In addition to the analgesic effect of CBD, the anti-inflammatory properties when used both orally or topically, have been confirmed by a variety of studies on both humans and animals.
However, in addition to the general studies on CBD and pain, there is some research to explore that looks at the relationship between CBD and arthritic pain more specifically.
One of the reasons why researchers are so excited to learn more about the use of CBD to treat arthritis pain is that in addition to having a role in regulating both pain and inflammation, the endocannabinoid system may have a specific role to play in pain specific to joint areas as well!
In fact, some studies on mice have shown that CBD may even slow the progression of arthritis in terms of the joint damage that is the hallmark of this degenerative disease, although it is important to point out that this research has not been confirmed on human subjects.
Although still not entirely understood, CBD has been identified as an important therapeutic with lots of potential for further study in the treatment of pain from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Common Medications for Arthritis, and their Side Effects
There are several common treatments used to treat pain from arthritis. Unfortunately, many of them include serious side effects, particularly when used for extended periods of time. Let’s take a closer look:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): This class of drugs includes over the counter pain medications that are very good at reducing inflammation and the pain associated with it, including ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. Serious side effects can include digestion problems, ulcers, liver problems, and in some cases increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Corticosteroids. Either injected or applied topically, these compounds can radically lower inflammation and offer a great deal of pain relief for patients with arthritis. However, prolong use can lead to elevated blood fat and sugar, discoloration of the skin, cataracts, and bone loss.
- Disease-modifying anti–heumatic drugs (DMARDs): Primarily used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, this class of drugs works directly on the immune system itself, which is a legitimate concern for some users. Examples include drugs such as Plaquenil®, Methotrexate, and Arava®. Side effects can vary, but increased susceptibility to other disease, and liver toxicity are among some of the chief concerns.
CBD is NOT a miracle cure for arthritis!
Even though the independent, peer-reviewed scientific research points to CBD as one potential therapeutic that could help ease the suffering of arthritis sufferers, it is important to note that CBD is not a cure-all for arthritis sufferers.
First, no CBD drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of arthritis pain. Second, the research is still emerging and it is too soon to know for sure how effective CBD is in the treatment of arthritic pain.
However, we do know that CBD is safe, with relatively few known side effects.
Given the side effects of the traditional approaches to treating arthritis covered in the above section, it should not be a surprise that some are turning to CBD oil derived from hemp to find out if this supplement will offer them safe and effective relief from some of their symptoms.
How to best take CBD oil for arthritis pain?
There are several ways to take CBD for pain, and different people experience different levels of relief from the different methods.
It seems that different people are affected differently by this cannabinoid, and the method of delivery can impact how effective CBD is in relieving symptoms such as pain and inflammation.
The three most popular ways to consume CBD for arthritic pain include:
- Sublingual Tinctures: Sold in small bottles with an eye-dropper cap, this is the most common form of CBD oil. The drops can be taken under the tongue where they absorb rapidly into the bloodstream or added to food as a supplement where they can take up to an hour to take effect.
- CBD Capsules for Arthritis Pain: Probably the easiest way to take a CBD supplement, capsules offer very convenient and precise dosing. They are easy to add to any daily pill routine and are the least likely to be associated with marijuana culture which can be an issue for some elderly folks.
- CBD Creams, Lotions and Salves for Arthritis Pain: CBD can also be applied directly to the site of the joint pain from OA or RA. Look for formulas that have other pain and inflammation reducing natural ingredients such as arnica and menthol.
CBD Dosage for Arthritis
Unfortunately, since there are so many factors that can influence dosing size, finding what will work for you is often a trial and error process.
In addition, many users experience a trial period where it can take 3 days to a week of regular dosing before they feel the effects of CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis. This likely has to do with the time it takes the body to populate itself with the necessary receptors to make use of the cannabinoids.
Start with the recommendations provided by the manufacturer of your oil, then up the dose slowly until you get the desired effects.
I sincerely hope you found this article to be informative. I strive to give my readers the information they need to make an informed decision, based on real research, on whether or not CBD products are a good fit for their needs.
Of course, it is important that you work with your doctor to decide on an arthritis treatment plan that works best for you. In addition to making sure that there will not be any drug interactions, this will help you feel secure knowing that you are getting professional medical advice on how best to treat your arthritis pain.
Please feel free to join in the conversation via the comments section below if you have some experience using CBD for arthritis pain. There are so many people that suffer from this debilitating condition, and your experience could help someone else find products that work for them.