Ongoing research shows evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) can have many benefits for those with arthritis. CBD products contain CBD extracts made from quality medical hemp plants that can be consumed or applied to individual parts of the body. Many people have heard about CBD products being used for arthritis and other chronic conditions. However, some may have questions about its effectiveness or how it works.
Arthritis can cause a variety of symptoms, including stiffness, pain, inflammation, and swelling. It can also cause reduced mobility, anxiety, and depression. Often, arthritis is only one of the ailments people deal with. This adds further stress and suffering in the process. These problems are leading many people to consider CBD as a safer therapeutic option. In this article, you will see some of the basics of CBD and arthritis. We will go over how CBD may help people with arthritis by relieving their symptoms.
Medical Marijuana’s Rich (and Long) History
Cannabis has long been used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. These were often primary over the plant’s well-known capacity as a recreational substance. Medical marijuana seems to have been a primary use for the plant in many societies. It also seems there was never a clear-cut distinction between medical or therapeutic and recreational or social use. Thanks to current research, it is getting easier to understand how cannabis interacts with the body. Cannabinoids, compounds made by cannabis, do this both together and in isolation. This makes potential medical benefits far easier to understand.
Siberian burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. were found to contain charred cannabis seeds. This indicates that cannabis was in use thousands of years ago. Its presence in burial mounds shows that it had an important role in some ancient societies. Cannabis was a part of the medicinal, therapeutic, and social aspect of culture.
Cannabis has also been used in ancient Chinese therapies that originated thousands of years ago. Looking at cannabis through history, one finds that negative views of the flower only emerge over the last 500 years. Cannabis bans were rare until the 19th century and did not become commonplace until the 20th. Until then, for millions of people, cannabis was a part of life like any other homegrown crop.
Cannabis was also used widely for industrial purposes in the 18th century. Many American Founding Fathers grew hemp as a cash crop during the period. The first president of the United States, George Washington, grew hemp on his plantation at Mount Vernon. Cannabis only became illegal in the United States in 1937.
This means that cannabis remedies were available (though lesser-known) as little as a generation ago. While this can be shocking, it shows how cannabis was until very recently.
Unfortunately, many political factors led to the ban on cannabis in westernized countries. This controversial history in western cultures has made the study of cannabis’s benefits difficult over the last century. This explains why research on the potential uses for CBD is from more recent decades.
Sadly, current legislation in many countries continues to make the study of medical marijuana difficult. This is a fact that will only change with normalization and legalization of cannabis plants. Thankfully, more government leaders recognize the benefits of cannabis. This trend is due largely to a shift in public opinion. More people than ever believe that cannabis should be explored for its medical benefits.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of many beneficial cannabinoids derived from hemp plants. Hemp is classified as cannabis that contains extremely low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis. Certain products are put through special extraction processes. These remove the remaining trace amounts of THC. CBD oil is gathered from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of plants. CBD oil can be taken raw with carrier oils or infused into other products like topicals, edibles, and e-liquid. Because CBD oil is extremely low in THC, consumers can get the benefits of cannabinoids without any psychoactive effects. While THC can alter a consumer’s mental state or produce a “high” feeling, CBD has no such effect.
CBD products come in a variety of types with different concentrations of cannabinoids. Since cannabis has long had an unfortunate cultural stigma, some people still feel uncomfortable using medicinal and therapeutic cannabis products. Sadly, the history of anti-cannabis laws has cast an unwarranted shadow over medical marijuana products. Thankfully, this stigma continues to decline as people learn about cannabis’s potential benefits. This helps people to be more comfortable trying hemp-derived products.
CBD products are derived from hemp plants. These are cannabis strains bred specially to produce very low THC with high amounts of CBD and other cannabinoids.
As of the 2018 Farm Bill, the United States federal government has made a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana based on THC content. As long as a cannabis plant has no more than 0.3 percent THC, it is classified as hemp. This has made the clinical study of cannabinoids far easier. It also made hemp-derived remedies more widely available to the public.
CBD for Relief of Arthritis Symptoms
Many people use CBD products to relieve pain, inflammation, and other chronic symptoms. Emerging research shows that CBD can be useful for many people who suffer from pain, fatigue, and other chronic conditions. Arthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States and the leading cause of disability.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis every year. This number could be as high as 91 million when counting people who have arthritis but may not have been diagnosed. There are two types of arthritis that most commonly afflict Americans:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that attacks the bones and cartilage in the body’s joints. This causes inflammation, discomfort, and even joint pain. OA most often affects knees, thumbs, and hips.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s joints. These attacks lead to inflammation, discomfort, pain, swelling, and stiffness. RA is most common in the hands and feet, causing great difficulty in daily life.
There is still much research that has to be done to understand how CBD affects arthritis and its precise applications in treatment. However, while CBD is yet being studied as a treatment for arthritis, the body of evidence in favor of this conclusion is growing. Studies conducted on animals show evidence that CBD has the potential to treat arthritis and relieve its symptoms. Other cannabinoids may help, too.
A 2014 review of clinical research concluded that CBD might be an effective treatment for OA. One 2016 study showed that topically applied CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect against arthritis. Another study done in 2017 showed further indications that CBD has the potential for treating OA.
Other cannabinoids show potential for bringing relief to those with arthritis. A 2006 study showed that a cannabis-derived oral spray, Sativex, relieved arthritis symptoms and pain.
Sativex is an oral spray that came from cannabis plants containing both CBD and THC. It is believed that both cannabinoids have the potential for therapeutic use, with the two possibly working in tandem as well. Another study conducted in 2011 showed that CBD helped improve symptoms of arthritis in rats. CBD altered how their nervous systems responded to painful sensations.
CBD Products for Chronic Pain Relief
Growing evidence shows that CBD could benefit people suffering from chronic pain. CBD may alter the brain’s natural response to pain signals, mitigating, or even eliminating painful sensations.
CBD and other cannabinoids attach to specially adapted receptors located in the brain and immune system. These cannabinoid receptors make up the body’s endocannabinoid system. There are two receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain. These interact with the body’s systems that regulate movement, thought, mood, coordination, appetite, and memory. THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, interacts, especially with these receptors. This explains why using THC has such noticeable psychoactive effects.
Different receptors serve different purposes in the immune system. The specific roles of each are the subject of ongoing research. CB2 receptors help regulate pain and inflammation to support immune health. Current research indicates that CBD attaches itself to CB2 receptors once introduced into the body.
CBD may even help the body produce cannabinoids that also attach to the receptors. The evidence seems to show that CBD changes the way the receptors respond to pain and other signals from the immune system. Because of this, CBD can help the endocannabinoid system reduce pain and inflammation. This includes those caused by arthritis. This gives CBD potential therapeutic uses for chronic pain management. Other cannabinoids, including CBC, CBN, and THC, may also have medical uses.
CBD has also been shown to have potential benefits for other chronic conditions, too. Sometimes, other chronic conditions can develop alongside or even independently of arthritis. Cannabinoids show potential to relieve pain for those with multiple sclerosis and at least some kinds of cancer.
Research also indicates that CBD can have positive effects on consumers with fibromyalgia pain. Generally, side effects are extremely mild, like drowsiness, dry mouth, or dizziness. They also tend to fade quickly.
Mental health also seems to improve for many people using CBD. Often, consumers see a reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms. Some researchers believe that CBD has the potential to treat multiple anxiety disorders. Cannabis products are currently not generally recommended for children. However, it is possible that CBD can help relieve anxiety in young children.
Other studies show that CBD is linked to reduced symptoms of depression. This is incredibly important for people suffering from arthritis symptoms.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, depression can be a big problem among those with arthritis. Often, it is 2-10 times as much as the general population. CBD has the potential as a treatment that relieves arthritis and it may also help with the associated mental health symptoms. This is wonderful news for people with arthritis.
How to Use CBD
CBD products for arthritis are offered in a wide variety of styles, application types, and concentrations. This gives consumers the flexibility to choose from powders, capsules, oils, creams, and gels. Consumers can take CBD orally using oils, tinctures, and sprays. They can also vaporize products in e-liquids and dry herb vaporizers (used for raw, high CBD hemp flower).
Consumers who have arthritis can especially benefit from topically applied creams and gels. CBD can be applied directly to uncomfortable, inflamed, swollen, or painful joints. This can give faster symptom relief than other ingestion methods. As well, CBD that is taken orally or through vaporizers is distributed evenly throughout the body. Creams and gels enable consumers to target problem areas for quicker, more effective symptom relief.
Before you decide to take any CBD products, make sure you consult with your physician. Your doctor should be kept aware of any supplements, dietary changes, or remedies you are considering. It is important for your health care that you keep your doctor abreast of any changes you make in this regard. Your doctor can help monitor for any interactions with medications or other adverse reactions. Side effects and adverse reactions from CBD products are rare. However, any new substance introduced to the body can cause unwanted reactions.
Potential Unwanted Side Effects of CBD for Arthritis
In the vast majority of cases, as also shown by smaller clinical studies, CBD is tolerated well by most consumers. However, no compound is without any risk whatsoever of adverse reactions or unwanted side effects. CBD can cause mild unwanted effects in a small percentage of consumers. Potential unwanted effects include:
- Weight changes
- Changes in appetite
CBD shows no evidence of causing physical dependence in consumers. This makes it a potentially wonderful alternative to more dangerous opioids used to treat chronic pain. Epidiolex is the CBD medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for seizures. Epidiolex successfully underwent clinical trials. Researchers found no evidence of physical dependence in patients because of the treatment.
CBD may interfere with cytochrome P450 complex, an enzyme used by the liver during the process of breaking down toxins. Potentially, though it is not yet established, CBD may exacerbate the risk of increased liver toxicity. Consumers who are already at risk should especially consult their doctors before using any CBD products. They should exercise caution in adding CBD to their supplement regimen.
CBD may also interact with prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, supplements, and dietary aids. People who take medications that have potential interactions with grapefruit should also be careful with CBD. There may be an increased potential for unwanted side effects. Rarely, CBD applied to the skin can cause irritation, so it should be applied to a small area when used for the first time.
Considerations Before Using CBD for Arthritis
CBD and medical marijuana are complex topics that are unfortunately made a bit more complex by the current laws in the United States. The 2018 Farm Bill removed all federal prohibition on the production, sale, and consumption of hemp-derived products. But not all states have legalized CBD and hemp products.
That means that cannabis products, including CBD products, are not yet legal in every state. In some states, only those prescribed with CBD products under a state medical marijuana program can legally possess and use them. Make sure to know your state’s regulations before making any purchases.
Make sure you check local and state laws before purchasing or using CBD products to ensure you are in compliance. Even if CBD and hemp are legal in your locality, high THC cannabis may still be partially or completely illegal. If traveling with hemp products, be sure to have the appropriate paperwork. This should show the product’s cannabinoid content and legality. This is especially true for raw flowers that could be mistaken for an illegal substance.
Currently, CBD is not approved for prescription treatment for arthritis by the FDA. The FDA has only approved CBD as a treatment for two rare kinds of epilepsy with severe symptoms, and it only gave this approval in June 2018. This means that the FDA has just begun to consider CBD as a treatment for diseases, and further approvals will take time.
The Effectiveness of CBD Compared to Current Treatments
CBD products could bring relief to people with arthritis pain and discomfort. CBD’s effects on the endocannabinoid system, and the brain and immune system’s CB2 receptors, are encouraging. Researchers continue to study CBD and other cannabinoids.
They hope to see how they interact with the immune systems of arthritis patients. More studies are needed before it can be said that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment. Even so, the current body of evidence continues to show that this is likely.
Many consumers wonder whether CBD can help with arthritis symptoms. They also want to know whether it is more effective or safer than treatments that are currently available. Medical experts are trying to find ways to reduce dependence on pain relievers.
This has led to much excitement surrounding CBD and other medical marijuana products. The products seem to show great effectiveness for symptom relief. They appear to be safe for the vast majority of consumers.
Current research shows that CBD is safe for most people. It can play an important role in reducing pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. Nevertheless, like with all other therapeutic substances, the effectiveness of CBD will vary from person to person. Many people report immediate or almost immediate symptom relief.
Others say that the full effects can take days to weeks to be felt. Consulting with your physician is an important step in figuring out the right CBD dosage. You should consider your medications, conditions, tolerance, and other factors. Combined with proper diet, regular exercise, and prescription medications, CBD could bring huge relief.