Does CBD Help With Arthritis?

Arthritis is one among the multiple disorders for which CBD appears to be a promising treatment. The hemp derived compound has already reached the heights of popularity due to the therapeutic benefits it offers as well as the role it plays in improving general health.

Age and gender are crucial factors that decide arthritis risk in people, with older adults and women being more prone to the disease although young people and men aren’t free of the risk.

What Is Arthritis?

Before getting into the discussion of using CBD for arthritis treatment, it is important to get some insights on arthritis, its risk factors, general medications etc. Arthritis is an umbrella term that covers about 200 inflammatory conditions affecting the joints, the tissues that surround them as well as other connective tissue. Some arthritis conditions might report rapid development of symptoms while some have gradually developing symptoms. In addition to joints, some types of arthritis affect the internal organs and immune system of the body.

Once you cross the age of 65, you are at a higher risk of developing arthritis but that doesn’t mean that the people belonging to the younger age group cannot develop arthritis.

What Are The Possible Causes Of Arthritis?

A single cause cannot be reported for all types of arthritis because the factors that lead to arthritis may be different according to the type of the disorder.

Some common causes of arthritis include:

  • Heredity – Some types of arthritis lie osteoarthritis can be genetically inherited.
  • Infections – Some types of arthritis may have injuries as triggers
  • Injury – Injuries might lead to degenerative arthritis types
  • Dysfunction of the immune system – Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder caused by the inability of the immune system to distinguish between foreign cells and body cells.
  • Abnormal body metabolism – Gout and pseudogout are caused by abnormal body metabolism.

Arthritis types are mostly connected to more than one causative factors, and in most cases, its emergence is often unpredictable.

The genetic makeup of some people makes them more prone to arthritis than others. Factors like smoking, injury, infection, occupations that are physically demanding etc can interact with the genes thereby increasing arthritis risk further.

Certain food habits are also known to increase arthritis risk, with foods containing high levels of refined sugar reported to increase risk of developing certain types of arthritis. On analyzing multiple arthritis types, we find that gout is closely linked to the diet of the person, with foods containing high purine base levels increasing the risk of developing gout.

Common Types Of Arthritis

About 200 types of arthritis are split into seven major groups. In this session, we limit our discussion to two three major arthritis types.

Inflammatory Arthritis      

Inflammation is the normal response of the body to injuries, and majorly used as a defense mechanism against foreign agents like bacteria, viruses etc. However in inflammatory arthritis, things are different as the inflammation develops in the body without any reason. As the inflammation without the development of an infection or injury, it can damage the affected area leading to stiffness, pain and swelling.

In addition to affecting the bone surface, inflammatory arthritis can affect the bones underlying the surface too. Common examples of inflammatory arthritis are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Arthritis associated with psoriasis

Although the term arthritis means joint inflammation, the disorder isn’t limited to inflammation of joints, and instead can affect the tendons and ligaments that surround the joint.

Degenerative Arthritis

The cartilage that covers the bones at their ends handles the job of facilitating the smooth movement and gliding of joints. Degenerative arthritis refers to a group of conditions that lead to the damage of cartilage thereby making it less smooth and thin.

As the cartilage gets damaged, the body looks for alternative mechanisms to compensate for the cartilage loss and stability limitations. When the body attempts to remodel the bone, it can lead to the growth of undesirable bones called osteophytes. The joint misshapen as a result and the condition is referred to osteoarthritis, a common type of degenerative arthritis.

Previous joint fracture or inflammation may lead to osteoarthritis.

Infectious Arthritis

Entry of infectious organisms like virus, bacteria or fungus into a joint might lead to inflammation of the respective joint. Organisms that infect the joints include:

  • Shigella and Salmonella spread through contamination of food
  • Hepatitis C infection that spreads through blood transfusions and sharing of needles

What The Research Says About Using CBD For Arthritis?

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD make it an effective therapeutic in arthritis treatment helping thousands of patients who suffer from extreme pain symptoms of the disorder. Several clinical studies have been conducted to study the effectiveness of CBD in reducing the symptoms of arthritis.

Some of the animal studies conducted to investigate CBD relief for arthritis include:

  • Animal studies for evaluating the possibility of using cannabis medications in order to treat rheumatoid arthritis was conducted for the first time in 2006. Participants were given Sativex, a cannabis based medication for 5 weeks on a row. After the experiment was over, patients reported significant decrease in inflammation and pain. In addition to that, the patients reported better sleep.
  • A 2011 study conducted to study the effects of CBD in rats with arthritis found that by influencing the mechanism by which pain receptors responded to external stimuli, CBD offered relief from inflammatory pain.
  • A 2014 review that analyzed the results of research conducted till 2014 to determine the effectiveness of CBD in arthritis treatment concluded that cannabidiol may be an effective medication that can treat osteoarthritis.
  • A 2016 study conducted to investigate the potential of topical CBD to relieve arthritis pain and inflammation found that topical CBD can efficiently help handle the symptoms like pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
  • Arthritis is associated with chronic pain, and a 2008 review on the pain relief effects of CBD concluded that CBD could offer significant pain relief, all the while hardly leading to any side effects.
  • In 2016, an animal study was conducted using rats, in which CBD gel was applied on rats with arthritis. Researchers noted significant decrease in inflammation and joint pain in the rats. They didn’t observe any side effects for the treatment.

How Does CBD Work To Offer Arthritis Pain Relief?

CBD and THC are two active cannabinoids in found in cannabis plants. Although both are used in multiple medications, the way they work to offer therapeutic benefits is different. The endocannabinoid system of the body regulates major body functions like pain sensation, sleep, appetite, mood etc. CB1 and CB2 are the major receptors of the system that are indirectly influenced by cannabidiol.

Unlike some neurotransmitters, CBD do not bind directly to the endocannabinoid receptors but influence their response indirectly. CB2 receptors exert a significant influence in the working of immune system. Being an autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can be handled better by improving the immune system functioning.

The ability of cannabinoids like CBD to regulate the natural inflammatory response of the body is crucial in the treatment of arthritis. When the central nervous system detects any cell or nerve damage, the pain signals are sent to the brain that then processes the signals. CBD offers arthritis pain relief by working on the central nervous system and on the site of soreness (affected joints).

Interaction of CBD with the CB2 receptors explains the role of CBD in reducing the severity of RA symptoms. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD sheds light to the possibility of using it to check the progression of RA that could cause permanent joint damage over time.

CBD Product Types For Arthritis Treatment

The CBD market is seeing an influx of products offering multiple options for intake. You may take sublingual products like CBD oil, tinctures etc. To relieve the stiffness and pain in the joints, you may apply CBD topicals onto the skin surface.

Whatever be the CBD product you have picked, discuss with your doctor to decide the dosage. It is best to start with small dosage, study how your body reacts to the dosage and increase the dosage if needed.

 Here is a list of some popular CBD product types used to treat arthritis.

  • CBD Oil – CBD oil is manufactured by infusing CBD extract with carrier oil like MCT oil, hempseed oil, coconut oil etc. Sublingual application is the most common mode of CBD oil intake although the versatility of the product allows its addition to edibles to make a delicious list of CBD edibles.
  • CBD Tinctures – CBD tinctures are made by dissolving CBD extract in alcohol base. Tinctures are taken sublingually or can be added to edibles.
  • CBD Capsules – CBD capsules contain CBD oil that belongs to spectrum options full spectrum, broad spectrum or CBD isolate. Controlling the dosage is quite easy with CBD capsule as they come with precisely mentioned CBD percentages. They are taken like any normal edible, with its CBD content reaching the bloodstream after digestion of the capsule cover in the stomach.
  • CBD Topical – CBD topicals are excellent CBD options for targeted pain relief. Although the CBD in the topicals do not enter the bloodstream, its application on skin surface above the joints affected by arthritis facilitates the penetration of the topical across the outer skin layer to offer pain relief.

The research on CBD for arthritis treatment seems to be promising but clinical studies involving human participants are small. Hence numerous human studies have to be conducted to find out conclusive evidence about how CBD works in the body to offer relief from arthritis symptoms. However several user testimonials strongly suggest the effectiveness of CBD in arthritis treatment.