If you suffer from chronic arthritic pain, you may be interested in learning more about cannabidiol (CBD) as a possible treatment.
CBD is present in hemp; however, unlike THC, CBD is not “psychoactive” – it does not produce the euphoria or high associated with marijuana.
There’s a high possibility you’ve already tried it: a Gallup poll conducted in August 2019 found that around 14% of Americans use CBD products, with pain cited as the primary reason. The Arthritis Foundation conducted research and discovered that 29% of respondents were already taking CBD (primarily in liquid or topical form).
Almost 79% were either currently using, had previously used, or were contemplating it. Most people who used it reported improved physical function, sleep, and overall well-being; however, a minority reported improved pain or stiffness.
Maybe you’ve considered CBD? After all, most kinds of arthritis are incurable with conventional therapies, and CBD is regarded as a less addictive alternative to opioids.
Until recently, there wasn’t much research and much less information available to individuals (or their physicians) interested in CBD products, which are becoming increasingly legal and frequently advertised. That is, until now.
Everyone experiences pain differently
It’s worth noting that there are over 100 different types of arthritis, and while pain is a common symptom of all of them, these afflictions do not behave identically. Furthermore, what works for one individual may not work for another.
All varieties of arthritis require treatment aimed at alleviating pain and stiffness and preserving function. However, for specific disorders, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) traditional prescription treatments are strongly advised since they assist avoid joint deterioration and disability worsening.
Additionally, each individual experiences pain and responds to therapy differently. Consequently, it is improbable that a single CBD-containing product would help every person living with arthritis in the same way.
What the research says
The first controlled experiment to examine the use of cannabis-based medicine to treat RA occurred in 2006. After five weeks of usage, researchers determined that Sativex’s cannabis-based drug decreased inflammation and greatly relieved pain.
Participants also reported better sleep, and most adverse effects were minimal.
In 2016, another study was done utilizing CBD gel on mice. Researchers again observed that the CBD gel decreased joint pain and inflammation without negative effects.
While this research is extremely promising, the existing studies have been relatively small. Numerous further research, particularly with large numbers of human participants, are required to fully understand the effects of CBD oil and other cannabis-based medicines on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
One of the more extensive reviews evaluated the health effects of cannabis and CBD and found substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective therapy for chronic pain in adults. But there was no clear conclusion regarding CBD, possibly because definitive studies were not available.
Of course, there is anecdotal data and testimonials aplenty, including tales of tremendous improvement by patients who tried CBD in its different forms to treat pain. However, we are still waiting for well-designed, scientifically sound, and rigorous clinical trials (such as this one) that are required to address the issue of precisely how helpful CBD may be to those with chronic arthritic pain.
How does it work?
CBD oil impacts brain activity, but not the same way that THC, the major intoxicating element in marijuana, does. CBD oil interacts with two receptors, named CB1 and CB2, to alleviate pain and the effects of inflammation.
CB2 also plays a function in your immune system. RA involves your immune system attacking the tissue in your joints. So this link to the immune system might explain why CBD oil tends to function effectively for RA symptoms.
In addition, CBD’s anti-inflammatory actions might help slow down or stop the progression of RA, which causes lasting damage to your joints over time. These benefits might help lessen other inflammation-related RA symptoms, such as tiredness and fever.
How is it used?
Besides taking it orally, you can also blend CBD oil with your favorite moisturizer and apply it straight to your skin to help tight, achy joints. Some manufacturers also provide medicinal salves you may apply straight to your skin.
Figure out the optimal dose for you by working together with your doctor. It’s better to start with a very modest amount to evaluate how your body reacts. If you don’t notice any side effects, you can try steadily increasing your dosage.
When picking a CBD oil, be sure it’s from a reliable supplier and has a comprehensive list of components.
It is also possible to use CBD oil topically, and several cream and lotion formulations are becoming available for purchase.
Are there any side effects?
CBD oil does not appear to have any serious side effects. However, you may encounter some moderate adverse effects, particularly if this is your first time using it. If you have been using rheumatoid arthritis medications for an extended period, these side effects may be more profound.
These include the following:
- changes in appetite
If you’re thinking about using CBD, it’s critical to consult your physician first. CBD can interfere with drugs or supplements you are already using.
CBD and grapefruit both interact with enzymes involved in the metabolism of drugs, including cytochromes P450 (CYPs). Extra caution should be exercised if any medications or supplements have a grapefruit warning.
Are there any guidelines for CBD usage in treating persistent rheumatoid arthritis pain?
People with arthritis pain who wanted to try CBD had little assistance until recently. Patients and doctors had to independently assess if CBD was a viable option in each circumstance, depending on availability and interest.
For the most part, this is still true; however specific guidelines have been issued. For instance, here is one set of suggestions for persons seeking CBD therapy (based on Arthritis Foundation recommendations and a recent editorial in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research)
- When selecting a CBD product, search for one that has undergone independent testing for purity, potency, and safety — for example, check for one that has acquired “Good Manufacturing Practices” certification.
- CBD should be taken as part of a comprehensive pain treatment strategy that incorporates non-medication measures (such as exercise) and psychological support.
- Opt for an oral treatment (rather than an inhalation product) and begin with a low evening dosage.
- Establish treatment objectives within a reasonable time frame — for example, a reduction in knee discomfort that permits you to walk around the block after two weeks of beginning therapy; goals can be changed later if progress is made.
- Inform your doctor(s) about your intended and existing CBD treatment; work with your medical providers to monitor your pain and alter medicines, rather than with nonmedical practitioners (such as those selling CBD products).
- Do not allow nonmedical practitioners (such as those marketing CBD products) to treat your chronic pain; pain management should be collaborative between you and your healthcare team, even if CBD is used.
- Should you have RA or a similar illness, do not discontinue taking any drugs your doctor prescribes; discuss any modifications to your medication regimen with your doctor.
Thus far, research on the effects of CBD oil for patients with arthritis has been encouraging. However, more extensive human studies are needed to understand its effects completely.
If you’re considering CBD treatment for persistent arthritis pain or are already utilizing it, discuss the pros, cons, and newest research with your healthcare providers in order to collaborate and embark on a suitable treatment plan.
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