More than 50 million Americans are afflicted with arthritis, making it the country’s most common disability. The CDC estimates that 350 million people worldwide suffer with the inflammatory condition. With no known cure, it can often be hard for those with arthritis to find sufficient treatment. Painkillers are often prescribed, but the addictive nature of them and the side effects they tend to come with, they rarely solve the problem.
But there’s an all-natural solution to help ease arthritis pain without the side effects: cannabis.
Anecdotal stories about the beneficial properties of cannabis have mounted over recent decades, and much of the public is well aware that the plant at least reduces the pain. But now the growing number of scientific studies proving this belief is making medical cannabis a more viable treatment option than ever for sufferers of arthritis.
Both CBD and THC are therapeutic for arthritis
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most concentrated and important cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant – and they both help to deal with chronic pain and inflammation-related pain.
However, while both compounds are helpful in relieving the pain, the key benefit – for many – of CBD, is that it doesn’t cause a euphoric side effect after consumption. CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory, making CBD products an excellent, non-intoxicating remedy for arthritis symptoms.
THC’s therapeutic qualities are best suited to quelling the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. The compound encourages apoptosis, which inhibits the immune cells that are harming the body. THC has the ability to regulate the body’s immune system. CBD also plays a role in stopping damaging immune cells from spreading throughout the body – this is thanks to the cannabinoid having an antiproliferative effect.
Cytokines are proteins that are overproduced by patients with inflammatory conditions. They encourage inflammation, however both CBD and THC work to stifle them.
Many have linked the antioxidant properties of THC and CBD to promoting a reduction in pain and inflammation. It’s known that when the body is put under oxidative stress, these two ailments can worsen. The anti-hyperalgesic effect of CBD could even be thanks to the compound having antioxidant qualities, according to researchers in one study focussed on investigating cannabidiol’s effectiveness at treating chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain.
Scientists are now recognizing that CBD’s impact on the body extends beyond the endocannabinoid system. The receptors that CBD could possibly be stimulating may have anti-inflammatory properties, also this connection is yet to be confirmed.
Manage arthritis pain with medical cannabis
THC was revealed to be an inflammation suppressive in research conducted by the University of South Carolina a little while back. THC’s anti-inflammatory properties are 20 times stronger than aspirin.
Dr Sheng-Ming Dai, of China’s Second Military Medical University, recently had a study published in Rheumatology, a medical journal. It noted that CB2 receptors were much more prominent in the joint tissues of arthritis patients. This is thought to have occurred by the endocannabinoid system making an active response against inflammation. An increased number of CB2 receptors makes it even easier for THC to treat inflammation.
Studies have also looked at the interactions between endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG in sufferers of arthritis. They have overwhelmingly confirmed that rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can be managed with marijuana-based medicines.
Israel has been a hotbed of cannabis research for decades, and a study there found that nine in 10 patients who switched to medical cannabis to treat their arthritis continued with the herb after the completion of the study. Improved functionality and less pain were notable benefits. Osteoarthritis-linked pain in the knee joint could be treated by searching for cannabinoid receptors with localized cannabis products (e.g. creams), according to scientists of the University of Nottingham.
Health Canada looks at arthritis and cannabis
Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is playing host to a study by Health Canada which is investigating whether arthritic joints could be healed with medical marijuana. The project, which is set to last three years, is being led by pharmacology and anaesthesia professor Dr Jason McDougall.
The study started with the CAPRI trial back in 2015, which looked at how patients with osteoarthritis in the knee could be treated with medical cannabis. Halifax and Montreal scientists combined in a double-blind study that administered cannabis to some patients and a placebo to others. Six strains, of varying THC and CBD concentrations, were administered to patients through vaporizing.
The research wants to find out whether marijuana merely reduces the perception of pain, or if it makes any physical improvements to the body, such as repairing joint tissues. The study has earned the support of the Arthritis Society.
The Peace Naturals Project and Aphria, Inc., both licensed to sell medical marijuana, have contributed $100,000 each to the Arthritis Society, in order to finance the research.
Great strains to treat arthritis
Cannatonic is a top-of-the-range high-CBD medical cannabis strain, with CBD levels reaching 17 percent. The low levels of THC mean this bud only produces a subtle, short-lasting high, but the sensations are pleasant and mellow, yet not physically inhibiting. Therefore, you can enjoy the sweet flavors and pain relief from this strain while going about your day.
ACDC is another popular CBD-dominant strain, with an even more impressive 20% CBD to 1% THC profile. You’ll feel no psychoactive side effects from smoking or vaping this hybrid pain. If you’re an arthritis sufferer who needs to remain physically active, just without the pain, then this strain is perfect.
White Berry is a hybrid combining the best of indica and sativa – you get both a cerebral and physical high. A hefty 18 percent THC is found in this strain, which has minimal levels of THC. A really psychoactive strain, it’s going to get you pretty baked – great for distraction-oriented pain relief. Heavy aromas of blueberry and cherry dominate this beautiful, THC-covered bud.
Pennywise is a crossbred indica strain, derived from Harlequin and Jack the Ripper. The potent CBD prevents this strain from being overly psychoactive, and it’s especially popular with arthritis patients.
Harlequin is a favorite among high-CBD users, with a clever CBD to THC ratio of 5:2. A sativa-dominant strain, Harlequin doesn’t affect your productivity – It offers relaxation, without the physical sedation. For arthritis patients, that’s a perfect combination.