Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is derived from the hemp plant and used as a medicinal product with a variety of applications. It is rapidly growing in popularity to treat symptoms associated with many chronic ailments after showing success in clinical trials and research studies.
Most recently, CBD products have gained national attention for their effective pain relief capacity and promise to treat a wide range of medical problems, but this is not a new drug as hemp has a long history of providing relief in countries around the world.
CBD research is now being expanded to study diseases that involve pain as a symptom. Because of prior success in pain relief with hemp-derived products, researchers are focusing their attention on CBD’s effects on chronic pain relief and related conditions, including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, with promising results.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States, affecting more than 50 million Americans. The worst symptoms include pain, stiffness, and decreased joint movement, all of which worsen over time. Anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are all regularly associated with arthritis as well.
The two most common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, which causes the immune system to attack the joints, leading to inflammation, painful, swollen, and stiff joints, and osteoarthritis, a disease that affects joint cartilage and bones.
Research on hemp-derived medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis started more than 10 years ago, in 2006. After five weeks of use, Sativex, a hemp-based medication, showed a reduction in inflammation and improved pain relief. Participants claimed improvements in sleep, and very few, to no side effects.
These effects would be confirmed two years later, concluding that CBD in the treatment of chronic pain reduced pain and improved sleep with no negative side effects for the patients.
More recently, in 2016, a study on lab rats was conducted using CBD gel, resulting in reduced joint pain and inflammation, again with no side effects.
Unfortunately, though research has been promising so far, the existing studies have been very limited. Since hemp is illegal in most of the United States, research on its positive properties has been restricted. More studies, specifically more human trials, will be required to fully understand the potential of CBD treatment on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and confirm that it is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.
The endocannabinoid system in our body is responsible for explaining how and why CBD works in relieving pain and other symptoms. We have two main receptors, CB1 and CB2, involved in many of our metabolic, day to day functions. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain, associated with cognitive actions, like coordination, mood, thinking, memory, and appetite. CB2 receptors can be found in the immune system, and are responsible for managing pain and inflammation and the body’s response to both.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and its interaction with the receptors may help to slow down or stop the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, which causes permanent damage to your joints, and could play a role in reducing other inflammatory-related symptoms, like fatigue and fever.
Because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks their joints, the presence and function of CB2 receptors in the immune system might be the fundamental explanation for the success of CBD treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
Due to the lack of side effects with CBD, it is becoming a popular option for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other sources of pain. When used for the first time, there are sometimes mild side effects, including nausea, fatigue, or appetite changes. Be sure to understand how CBD may interact with any other drugs you’re taking with a medical professional.
CBD comes in a liquid form and a capsule, to be taken by mouth or added to food or water. It can also be applied topically to your skin in a lotion or salve to help with achy joints.
The FDA has not yet approved CBD oil as a medical treatment for arthritis, however, before using or purchasing CBD, talk to your doctor to determine the right dosage and if this alternative medication is right for you. Make sure any product you receive comes from a trusted provider and includes a list of ingredients. CBD is legal for medicinal use in certain states, but not all states, often requiring a recommendation from your doctor.