Treating Arthritis with Cannabis
Arthritis is often thought of to be a single disorder or disease. However, arthritis is simply a term that refers to joint pain or joint disease. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, but other symptoms such as redness, swelling, and decreased range of motion in affected joints can occur.
The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically occurs as people age and will often affect the fingers, knees, and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder and will typically affect the hands and feet.
Anyone can get arthritis, and it is currently the leading cause of disability in America with approximately 20% of people having some type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 3% of people worldwide. Rheumatoid arthritis is far less common, however, affecting approximately .25% of people worldwide.
Typical treatments include various forms of therapy, surgery such as joint and hip replacements, as well as anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs. It’s hard to say that cannabis can have a good impact on arthritis considering there are so many different forms of it. Instead, we will be looking specifically at the medical marijuana’s impact on rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks itself. Immune responses will cause excess inflammation which in turn leads to tissue deterioration as well as pain. Patients with RA usually have as much inflammation as they can handle, and cannabis just so happens to be packed with inflammation-fighting compounds. Research has shown that THC can inhibit the immune system as well as deactivate various inflammatory proteins.
The endocannabinoid system is a collection of various receptors found throughout the brain and immune system. This system has a wide influence over various functions such as the immune system, appetite, mood, sleep, pain, etc. When ingesting cannabis, cannabinoids flood the endocannabinoid system and help regulate these various functions. While there are different receptors in the endocannabinoid system, the main receptor that regulates inflammation is known as CB2.
According to a study published in 2013 conducted on arthritis patients, those with RA had more CB2 receptors on their cells than patients with other types of arthritis. While both CBD and THC activate CB2 receptors, THC activates CB2 more directly which triggers an anti-inflammatory response.
Pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms of RA, and cannabis just so happens to be excellent at managing pain. In a clinical trial conducted in 2010, researchers found that a daily moderate dosage of cannabis can reduce arthritis pain. The study was a controlled randomized trial in which patients smoked medical marijuana. One of the authors of the study explained: “A single inhalation of 25 mg of 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol herbal cannabis three times daily for five days reduced the intensity of pain, improved sleep and was well tolerated.”
If you’re looking to give cannabis a shot in treating your arthritis, try finding strains specifically for the ailment such as Death Bubba, Girl Scout Cookies, or Burmese Kush to name a few!