Experts have discussed the use of medical cannabis for a variety of health issues — it helps alleviate the symptoms of everything from anxiety to muscle recovery. But what about medical cannabis for arthritis?
Can medical cannabis provide pain relief from arthritis and chronic pain?
Of course, there are many anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals on the market. However, if you don't want to rely on opiates, consider medical cannabis.
Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, medical cannabis can provide relief from arthritis pain, with minimal side-effects. Here's how.
- Medical Cannabis: What Is It?
- Benefits of Taking Cannabis for Arthritis Pain Relief
- Scientific Research: What Does It Say?
- Risks & Side Effects of Taking Medical Cannabis for Arthritis
- Key Takeaways
Medical Cannabis: What Is It?
Generally, we might all be familiar with the idea of cannabis — in a recreational sense. You might think that medical cannabis is an entirely different ballgame, but this isn't the case.
In fact, medical cannabis uses THC and CBD — the same chemicals found in recreational marijuana — to treat and ease an array of health issues.
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However, medical cannabis is a little different from its recreational counterpart. This is because any cannabis-based product prescribed to relieve symptoms can be classified as “medical cannabis”. This can be anything from chronic arthritis pain to nausea.
Medical cannabis is only available via a medical prescription. In addition to this, THC is removed from all medical cannabis products in the UK.
This means that medical cannabis predominantly contains CBD, with only trace amounts of THC. Thus, they don't have to worry about the side-effects associated with THC.
According to experts, CBD's anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, and anti-anxiety properties make medical cannabis a great option for individuals who want to opt for a natural form of medicine.
Medical cannabis is also available in anything from CBD oil to CBD edibles.
Benefits of Taking Cannabis for Arthritis Pain Relief
We know that CBD can treat aches and pains. Therefore, it makes sense that arthritis pain is treated with medical cannabis.
Two of the most common types of arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): This form of arthritis affects bones and joint cartilage, causing degeneration, pain, and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): This form of arthritis causes a person's immune system to attack their joins. This can cause severe inflammation.
Medical cannabis is lauded for providing instant pain relief, and arthritis is associated with stiffness and chronic pain. To researchers, it's the obvious solution. Therefore, here's where CBD comes in.
Individuals who have tried CBD for pain relief as a treatment have noted a noticeable reduction in chronic pain. They've also reported an improvement in their quality of sleep, and a reduction in anxiety.
A Canadian study reported that one in five individuals treat chronic pain with a cannabis product.
Many individuals who haven't tried cannabis have also expressed interest in trying it. The same study reported that two-thirds of nonusers expressed interest in using medical cannabis for pain management.
However, this isn't the case for everyone who chooses to treat arthritis with medical cannabis.
It's true that certain individuals who use CBD-infused topicals or oils experience visible improvements. Still, establishing the relationship between arthritis and medical cannabis requires more research.
Scientific Research: What Does It Say?
Medical cannabis is excellent at taking the bite out of pain — so much so that it's being used in sports recovery. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, scientists are scrambling to find a link between CBD and arthritis.
The good news is that several studies have been conducted, and several more are underway.
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Research has been conducted on rats, with the hypothesis that medical cannabis can reduce joint and arthritis pain. During this study, researchers looked at the ability of cannabinoid 2 (CB2) to reduce osteoarthritis pain.
CB2 is a pain-sensing pathway found in our immune systems, brain, and peripheral nervous system. Activating CB2 receptors could potentially relieve pain and inflammation.
In the study, researchers injected rats with a chemical that mimicked the inflammation found in humans prone to chronic and arthritis pain.
After this, scientists administered JWH133 to some rats. JWH133 is a synthetic chemical compound, which activates CB2 cells, causing them to respond. They also administered a placebo to other rats.
Results showed that the presence of JWH133 and the activation of CB2 reduced both inflammation and pain.
Rats injected with JWH133 functioned normally, while rats injected with a placebo placed less weight on their limbs. They also experienced more sensitivity.
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Therefore, the experiment proved that medical cannabis has the potential to reduce osteoarthritis-induced pain behaviour. However, more studies need to be done.
Based on these results, researchers are widening their studies. The first step includes conducting trials on humans.
Not only will this prove if medical cannabis works on humans with arthritis and chronic pain, but it will also prove if medical cannabis is safe for humans to consume.
Risks & Side Effects of Taking Medical Cannabis for Arthritis
For the most part, medical cannabis is safe for consumption. Production standards in the EU and UK mean that medical cannabis is rigorously tested.
In addition to this, the THC compound is removed, leaving only trace amounts. The trace amounts of THC aren't enough to affect your mental state or produce a high.
In comparison to many other pharmaceutical drugs, medical cannabis has a much better side effect profile. Most people tolerate CBD quite well. Additionally, CBD in a topical form — such as a balm or lotion — will not cause any side effects.
However, this isn't the case, if opting for an oil or some edibles. While the side effects of CBD vs THC aren't nearly as potent, they can still affect you.
Medical cannabis is always prescribed by a licensed doctor. This means that your doctor will tell you to keep an eye out for these side effects. A medical professional will also assist you in managing these side effects, in order to make your medical cannabis journey as smooth as possible.
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When switching from chemical painkillers and opiates to medical cannabis, keep an eye out for two of the most common side effects:
- Diarrhoea: While this is unlikely, it's a possible side effect. Doctors say that your digestive system will eventually adjust.
- Tiredness: You might experience tiredness or lightheadedness. This can be managed by taking your CBD at a different time. It can also be helpful if you experience trouble sleeping.
If you experience any of these side effects, consult with a medical professional. They'll be able to help you manage both your arthritis pain and your foray into medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis has the potential to alleviate symptoms of arthritis pain. It could work wonders for long-term sufferers, without having to rely on opiates.
However, more research needs to be done. More research means that the connection between medical cannabis and arthritis pain is easier to understand.
This will enable doctors to prescribe CBD-infused treatments to their patients who suffer from arthritis pain. Researching this only stands to benefit the public.
Medical cannabis is a safe, opiate-free way to treat arthritis and chronic pain and provide individuals with pain relief.
If you're thinking of trying medical cannabis for your arthritis pain, remember to always consult with a medical professional. Not only can this help in figuring out the side effects, but you'll also know what dose to go with.
At Candid, we're very excited to see what happens. Subscribe to us for the latest developments on arthritis pain and medical cannabis.