CBD Oil for Arthritis
Arthritis can be debilitating and frustrating to live with. Pain from the disorder results in impaired sleep and daily functioning. Not surprisingly then, those managing the disease are interested in the potential benefits of CBD oil as a natural arthritis remedy to help with pain relief, as well as to help improve sleep and their overall ability to function daily.
The Arthritis Foundation conducted a survey recently to find out how many people have used CBD oil for arthritis. Over 2600 people with arthritis completed the survey. They found that:
- 79% of survey participants said they are currently using, have used, or are considering using CBD
- 29% of survey participants said they are currently using CBD as a natural arthritis remedy, and
- 63% of those who use CBD oil for arthritis said they use it daily
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder of the joints in the body. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, and fibromyalgia although there are over 200 different types of the disorder that have been identified.
Symptoms most often appear gradually over a period of time although they may also occur suddenly. Arthritis symptoms are usually localized to the joints of the body affected and most commonly include joint stiffness, discomfort or pain, and joint swelling. These symptoms often result in decreased range of motion to the affected area and redness around the joint(s) may be present as well. Forms of arthritis such as lupus and RA may also affect the immune system and various body organs resulting in several different symptoms. Those with arthritis say their symptoms are often worse first thing in the morning.
WHAT ARE CAUSES OF ARTHRITIS?
The causes of arthritis vary and depend on the type of arthritis that a person has. Osteoarthritis is caused by “wear-and-tear” on body joints that eventually wears away the protective cartilage in the joint which acts like a protective cushion, allowing smooth, pain-free movement. When this happens, bone begins to grind on bone when the joint moves and flexes causing pain and restricted movement. OA usually develops over many years, but it can develop more quickly due to infection or joint injury.
RA is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and begins to destroy the joint capsule and synovial membranes within joints. These membranes become swollen and inflamed. RA can cause destruction of bone, cartilage, and joint deformity.
Other risk factors for arthritis include:
- The risk of developing arthritis increases with age.
- Family history. Having a family history of some forms of arthritis may predispose you to developing arthritis as well.
- Previous joint injury. If you have had joint injury due to an accident or from playing sports, you are more likely to develop arthritis in that joint over time.
- Being male or female results in a higher risk of different forms of arthritis. For example, RA is more common in women while gout is more common in men.
- Carrying excess weight puts extra stress on the spine, knees, and hips which can lead to injury of these joints and the development of arthritis.
WHAT TREATMENTS EXIST FOR ARTHRITIS?
Although there is no cure for arthritis, current treatments are aimed at relieving pain, improving function, and reducing further joint injury. A combination of treatments are usually used and what works varies for each person and depends on the type of arthritis you have. Arthritis treatments include medications such as:
- Pain medications.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Help reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system.
- Biologic response modifiers. Drugs that target specific proteins involved in the immune response.
- Used in ointments and creams to interrupt pain signals coming from the affected joints.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Help slow down or stop the immune system from attacking the joints.
These medications are often used in combination with hot and cold application, physiotherapy, splints and assistive devices. Lifestyle modifications such as exercise that is gentle on the joints such as swimming, weight loss (if needed), and an anti-inflammatory diet may help with symptom control as well.
CAN CBD REDUCE THESE SYMPTOMS?
While there are many anecdotal reports that CBD oil may help reduce inflammation and pain due to arthritis, research studies about CBD & arthritis in humans are still lacking. A study in the European Journal of Pain found that CBD applied to the skin of rats helped reduce pain and inflammation from OA.
A study was conducted in 2018 involving 320 human participants with OA knee pain. Participants were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a placebo group. A gel containing synthetic CBD was applied twice daily for 12 weeks. Results were mixed and inconclusive about CBD oil’s effectiveness for OA knee pain.
A 2008 review of research on the effectiveness of CBD oil for pain relief found some preliminary evidence that CBD is effective for chronic pain that is difficult to treat including arthritic pain.
HOW DOES CBD WORK FOR PATIENTS WITH ARTHRITIS?
Medical experts believe CBD and other cannabinoids may help reduce pain and inflammation by attaching to CB2 receptors in the brain and immune system. When CBD attaches to these receptors, pain and inflammation signals may be blocked. Alternatively, when CBD attaches to these receptors, the body may produce its own natural cannabinoids that attach to CB2 receptors to relieve pain and inflammation.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS FROM CBD?
Small studies involving human subjects have found CBD oil is usually tolerated well. However, some people may experience side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight. CBD may also affect how well other medications you are taking are metabolized in the body. This may make your other medications less effective or potentially too strong. CBD may also interfere with a liver enzyme called cytochrome P450 complex that helps the liver break down toxins and medications in the body. Medical experts are concerned that interference with this enzyme can put a person at risk of liver toxicity.
HOW MUCH CBD SHOULD YOU TAKE FOR ARTHRITIS?
Because so few human studies have been done looking at CBD & arthritis, a recommended dosage of CBD for arthritis symptoms has not been identified yet. Keep in mind that CBD affects people differently. If you decide to use CBD oil for arthritis, it is recommended that you start with the lowest possible dose while monitoring how you feel and gradually increasing the dose over time as needed and if well tolerated.
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Always check with your doctor before beginning any new supplement routine, including the use of natural products, especially if you are currently taking any medications. You should never replace any arthritis treatments with CBD oil unless you speak with your doctor first.