Learn how CBD can relieve the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
As cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity over the years, major organisations such as the Arthritis Foundation have issued guidelines regarding its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis. The CBD in most products is extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis that has only trace amounts (up to 0.3%) of THC, the active compound that gets people high.
Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce chronic pain by influencing the activity of endocannabinoid receptors, which can also reduce inflammation.
CBD comes in different forms, such as topical and sublingual oils. The oils can be taken orally, and topically. The dosage of CBD varies depending on the form, intensity of pain and other treatments used.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
RA is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body and causes inflammation. RA commonly affects the joints of the hands, wrists and knees, causing the lining of the joint to become inflamed and damage the tissue. This causes chronic pain in the joints and leads to joint deformity. RA can also affect other tissues in the body, such as the lungs, heart and eyes.
Benefits of CBD for RA Health
Animal studies have suggested that CBD has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, but these effects have not been validated by quality human studies. Anecdotally, some people who have tried CBD for the treatment of arthritis symptoms report marked pain relief, improved sleep and reduced anxiety.
Human trials have not provided strong evidence for the use of CBD in the treatment of arthritic pain.
A randomised trial of topical CBD for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed.
One of the largest reviews examining the health effects of cannabis and CBD concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. However, there was no specific conclusion on CBD, as no definitive studies were available.
More recently, a new study showed that CBD can potentially help relieve RA pain and inflammation by acting on immune cells that attack healthy cells in the body. It is important to note that this study was also not conducted on human subjects.
Research in this area is ongoing.
If you are interested in trying CBD for RA pain management, be sure to talk to your doctor first before using any CBD products.
CBD for RA grows in popularity
According to a 2019 national survey of 2,600 people by the Arthritis Foundation, 79% of respondents said they were using CBD, had used it in the past, or were considering using it to help with their arthritis pain
Additional health benefits
The strongest scientific evidence for the efficacy of CBD as a medical treatment is for the prevention of seizures in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which are severe childhood epilepsy disorders that do not normally respond to anticonvulsant drugs. Several years ago, the first cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, containing CBD, was approved and is available in Spanish pharmacies.
Other potential health benefits of CBD include:
- Reducing anxiety, insomnia and depression
- Relieving the symptoms of cancer or cancer treatment
- Eliminate acne
- Slowing the progression of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
Interactions with chemical drugs
Studies have found moderate interactions between CBD and medications commonly prescribed for the treatment of RA.
Interactions with these medicines may occur:
- Some antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, mirtazapine, paroxetine and sertraline
- Some medicines used to treat fibromyalgia, such as gabapentin and pregabalin
CBD can also increase the levels of other drugs in the blood by the same mechanism as grapefruit juice.