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Arthritis is an inflammatory disease affecting the joints. It can lead to loss of mobility and lowered quality of life. CBD and other cannabis extracts popular as an alternative or adjunctive treatment for arthritis. In this article we’ll discuss how this works, and how people are using CBD to alleviate symptoms.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, 54 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. It’s the leading cause of disability among adults in the developed world.
Despite how common arthritis is, there aren’t many effective treatment options for the condition outside of pharmaceutical painkillers and anti-inflammatories — which often come with undesirable side-effects and fail to address the underlying cause of the condition.
Due to its broad spectrum of pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has gained a lot of attention lately as a promising treatment for arthritis.
Here, we’ll discuss how CBD can benefit both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. We’ll go over what the research says and how people are using CBD currently, and offer a guideline on dosing.
Let’s get right into it.
Arthritis involves inflammation of the joints. The cause of the inflammation and tissue damage characterizes the condition as either rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune) or osteoarthritis (other).
CBD offers different benefits to each form of arthritis.
Most of these benefits come from CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Regarding osteoarthritis, CBD fights the source of the inflammation by blocking key inflammatory messengers such as TNF-a. It also blocks the pain caused by this inflammation.
Regarding rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation is far more severe because the body’s immune system attacks and destroys joint tissue. CBD supports this form of arthritis on many levels by regulating the immune cells responsible for causing most of the damage to the joints.
Normally, immune cells called T-cells enter the joint tissue, become activated, and start attacking. CBD slows this process down by making it harder for the T-cells to become active in the joint — therefore, reducing the rate of joint damage.
In one study involving collagen-induced arthritis in mice, researchers found that CBD administration slowed the progression of both acute arthritis and chronic arthritis .
In this particular study, both CBD injections and oral CBD had the same effect. The dose used in this study was quite high — around 25 mg/kg per day.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in several different processes throughout the body. Its broad effects give it a few different mechanisms to tackle arthritis symptoms.
The most important benefits of CBD in relation to arthritis are the anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effects.
Since both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are caused by underlying inflammatory processes and involve symptoms of pain and swelling, CBD is an excellent treatment option for both these conditions.
Researchers want to know how CBD and other cannabinoids are so beneficial to arthritis. They tested the effects of various synthetic cannabinoids and a cannabidiol analog (O-1918) and found that another receptor — known as GPR55 — is also involved in the processes behind the pain-relieving benefits of cannabinoids .
Ultimately, the most beneficial effects of CBD on arthritis revolve around its anti-inflammatory properties.
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the joints. It generally progresses slowly, with symptoms worsening over time. It’s most common in the elderly, overweight individuals, and athletes.
There are many different types of arthritis, depending on the cause — however, we normally classify them into one of two categories: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Each one of our cells has a special protein “tag” attached to the outside of the cell. This tells the immune cells (T-cells and B-cells) that it’s meant to be there — just like someone having a hall pass. Without this “hall pass,” it will be attacked and destroyed by the immune cells on sight.
With autoimmune diseases, there’s a disruption in this system.
Here are a few things that can go wrong:
In all of these events, the results are virtually the same: the T-cells and B-cells begin attacking the body’s own cells. When this occurs in the joint tissue, we end up with rheumatoid arthritis.
The characteristics of this condition are redness and swelling of the joints. Usually, the affected joints appear equally inflamed on both sides of the body and are often described as feeling “hot.”
There’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis — but there are medications that can help to keep symptoms at bay. Most of these medications are anti-inflammatory — since inflammation is the primary driver of the disease.
Osteoarthritis is also characterized by achy, sore joints — but it is not an autoimmune disease.
Osteoarthritis begins with low-grade inflammation of the joints, causing damage to the cartilage and cells that produce the slippery synovial fluid that reduces friction and aids in smooth movement within the joints. As a joint begins to deteriorate from the breakdown of cartilage, the inflammation increases.
This condition is self-perpetuating — the worse it gets, the faster it progresses.
The primary treatments for osteoarthritis involve using anti-inflammatories, reducing movement of the joint, and taking nutritional supplements to support synovial fluid and collagen production.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis can be cured depending on the severity of the condition and willingness of the patient to change diet and lifestyle habits dramatically.
There are two ways you should consider using CBD when treating arthritis — topically and internally. Both have their own positives and negatives, but the best treatment will involve a combination of both.
Let’s explore each form of application in detail.
Taking CBD internally allows the cannabinoids to travel deep within the inflamed tissues. This is important with arthritis because the inflammatory processes occur deep within the joint itself — well below structures such as bones and ligaments that slow the absorption of topical cannabis.
Internal CBD is also necessary to achieve pain inhibition in the brain and spinal cord — something topical CBD simply can’t offer.
Topical CBD is very useful for arthritis. It delivers the anti-inflammatory cannabinoids directly to the source. This form of CBD offers pain-reducing benefits at the site of injury directly but doesn’t offer any inhibition on the pain pathway leading up the spine and into the brain — where much of CBD’s analgesic effects take place.
For this reason, it’s important that you use a combination of internal and topical CBD for arthritic pain — both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
When looking for topical CBD products to help manage symptoms, find a high-potency salve, ointment, or cream. Many of the products on the market don’t contain enough cannabinoids to realistically offer improvement for the condition.
The dose of CBD for arthritis can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and the type of arthritis.
For low-grade osteoarthritis — characterized by mild joint pain — a low potency may be sufficient.
For rheumatoid arthritis or more severe osteoarthritis, a medium- or high-strength dose of CBD may be necessary.
When trying CBD for the first time, it’s recommended that you start with a low dose and build up gradually over time. Once you find relief from your symptoms, you’ve found the right dose.
|Unit of Measure||Low Strength||Medium Strength||High Strength|
|Imperial (pounds)||1 mg for every 10 lbs||3 mg for every 10 lbs||6 mg for every 10 lbs|
|Metric (kilograms)||1 mg for every 4.5 kg||6 mg for every 4.5 kg||12 mg for every 4.5 kg|
|Weight (lbs)||Low Strength||Medium Strength||High Strength|
Although CBD has been proven to be safe many times over, it’s important to know about the potential side-effects it may produce. Everybody is different, and what works for one person doesn’t always work the same way for another.
Here are some of the most common side-effects of CBD:
CBD is an excellent option for people suffering from either type of arthritis — rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
The potent anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD make it an excellent treatment for the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis — which is heavily reliant on autoimmunity. CBD stops the T-cells from proliferating and attacking the joint tissue and inhibits inflammation at several different levels.
Regarding osteoarthritis, CBD stops the low-grade inflammation taking place in the cartilage region of the joints.
Additionally, CBD effectively alleviates pain resulting from both types of arthritis.
For the best results, it’s recommended that you use both an internal form of CBD (such as an oil, tincture, capsule, or edible), as well as a topical form applied to the affected joints directly.