Since 2006, six studies have looked to determine whether cannabis – more specifically CBD – could prove to be efficacious to treat arthritis; a condition that is treatable but still incurable. In the U.S., more than 40 million suffer from the condition, and more than 60 percent of those are women.
Arthritis is a condition driven by inflammation of the joints, often characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and sometimes tenderness. To date, medical cannabis programs in just six states and Puerto Rico allow arthritis patients to access their program; however most other states with comprehensive medical cannabis programs do provide access to patients experiencing chronic pain which is often a side effect of arthritis.
CBD Studies – Canada And U.S.
The first study focused on CBD and arthritis was conducted in 2006; however, that study focused on pharmaceutical mouth spray Sativex – something unavailable in traditional medical cannabis programs.
A 2011 animal study by University of Calgary researchers determined “cannabinoid receptors are involved in joint [chronic pain] and [the] novel targets may be advantageous for the treatment of inflammatory pain.” A 2014 literature review concluded that cannabis is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis but notes the “limited clinical evidence” beyond rodent studies. More CBD-focused animal studies were conducted in 2016 and 2017 – by researchers at the University of Kentucky and Canada’s Dalhousie University, respectively – and both determined that CBD was safe and useful as an arthritis treatment. In Canada, two of three patients licensed under the pre-legalization medical cannabis regime were enrolled for arthritis pain.
Anecdotally, patients and industry experts wholly believe cannabis works for both arthritis pain and inflammation; although clinical evidence is much harder to come by. The cannabis community also contends that the entourage effect – rather than THC or CBD alone – works best when using cannabis medically and the proliferation of legal programs has led to an expansion of topical products, which could be rubbed directly onto painful joints to reduce swelling.
CBD Topical Cream Benefits
Topical products can help alleviate swelling and pain, while avoiding any psychoactive effects, making them perfect (and discreet) for use throughout the day. The University of Kentucky study was conducted using CBD topicals and concluded that the product had “therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation, without evident side-effects.” Most topical products take about 20-30 minutes to take effect; however, some patients have reported immediate pain relief once the topical is rubbed into the skin.
Earlier this year, a study by Syracuse University researchers determined that while THC might not actually reduce pain, the cannabinoid certainly helps patients’ pain thresholds. This study is important for chronic pain patients – including those suffering from arthritis – because it lends credence to both the entourage effect and the countless medical cannabis patient success stories.
Best Cannabis Strains For Arthritis Pain
Patients seeking arthritis pain and swelling relief from cannabis might be best-served by using a hybrid cannabis strain. Of Leafly’s 50 best strains to treat arthritis, 28 of them are hybrid, while 13 are Indica and nine are sativa. Moreover, some patients have reported juicing cannabis, which brings out its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, in addition to a larger dose of nutrients and cannabinoid acids. Of course, a low-dose edible – which is absorbed by the body slower than inhalation – can also help provide pain relief longer than an over-the-counter analgesic. The key to treating with cannabis, regardless of what ails you, is to start low and go slow.
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