Can Cannabis-Based Medicine Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?

April 28, 2020Doctors, Patients

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease which attacks the joints, causing mild to severe pain. Studies and research performed over the past 15 years indicate that using cannabis for alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is potentially safer and easier to use than other over-the-counter or prescription medications.

A 2006 study shows that CBD oil as a topical ointment can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as improving sleep, with low side effects. While more research is needed for this to be considered a completed study, another study done in 2008 produced the same conclusion that the 2006 study did: improved sleep, less pain, and, again, low side effects. In a 2016 study CBD gel was used on lab rats to see the effect it has on the joints, and it showed that it also helped with all of these rheumatoid arthritis issues, but this time, without side effects.

CBD and THC, both found in marijuana, have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. A slight difference in how the atoms are arranged accounts for the differing effects on your body. Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound. That means it doesn’t produce the “high” associated with THC.


How CBD Oil Could Reduce Pain and Inflammation 

In relation to rheumatoid arthritis, the research suggests that the CBD oil interacts with two receptors, called CB1 and CB2, to reduce pain and the effects of inflammation in the body. The CB2 causes a reaction in your mind, helping you not register pain the same way and helps reduce the level of pain one may be feeling.

CBD can be used topically or ingested, depending on the method you use. For RA, the topical ointment penetrates the skin on the area that is in pain and helps relieve discomfort and inflammation. In conjunction with the topical application, patients can also drop CBD oil under their tongue, relieving anxiety and providing an approach to help alleviate symptoms in both the short and long term.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects could also help to slow down or stop the progression of RA if used in specific dosing as part of a daily preventative routine (in supplement form such as fish oil for example). This may counter RA’s tendency to cause permanent damage to a patient’s joints over time, although more research and studies need to be done to confirm this.

Based on preliminary test results, medicinal cannabis is making its way into mainstream medical consideration as an easy at-home treatment to combat the side effects of having rheumatoid arthritis.

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