Did you know that there are over 54 million adults and 300,000 children in the US alone who have been diagnosed with arthritis, whether as Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), or many other joint degeneration diseases?
And this doesn’t even count the undiagnosed people.
That’s a lot of people.
If you aren’t an arthritis sufferer, yet, then you won’t know how debilitating the pain of suffering from such a condition can be.
The chronic stiffness, and decreased movement in the joints, which only promise to get worse over time, are only the tip of the iceberg for what a person living with arthritis has to cope with.
Of course, there are many types of medication available to help ease the pain. Still, not everyone wants to be pumped full of chemicals that don’t always bring about much relief and can actually have some severe side-effects.
However, you may have heard of CBD, which is making headlines for being an alternative, more natural form of pain relief?
So, what is CBD?
CBD – short for cannabinoid, is one of 80 chemical cannabinoids that are found in the marijuana plant, Cannabis Sativa.
Within the cannabis plant, there are psychoactive chemicals known as THC, which can produce a natural ‘high’ and can change a person’s mental state.
Because of many people using cannabis as a recreational drug, there is a lot of controversy and confusion surrounding the usage of the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes.
However, it is essential to note that the CBD is not a psychoactive chemical and doesn’t contain any of the THC properties.
‘Pure’ products that only contain CBD, such as Epidiolex, do not carry the unknown risks linked to THC.
Clinical trials of Epidiolex, which is the brand name of the CBD medication that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat some medical conditions, did not find any indications of physical dependence.
CBD is an extract made from this cannabis plant without the THC elements, and which has excellent medicinal properties which have been used successfully for many thousands of years.
The CBD affects brain activity but not in the same way that THC, the psychoactive elements do.
CBD appears to help reduce pain and the effects of inflammation, which are the dominant symptoms of RA.
Putting it simply, and without trying to become a science lesson, there are two primary receptors in the cannabis plant, CB1, and CB2.
CBD impacts the CB2 receptors and, in turn, entices the human body to make its own cannabinoids, which has a positive effect on the body’s pain and immune system.
In recent years, researchers have started focussing on these positive effects of the CBD on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), and the results are promising…
Studies have demonstrated that patients using CBD reported substantial relief ranging from inflammation, sleep disorders, stiffness, relaxation, and anxiety to headaches and overall well-being.
CBD has more than 65 cellular targets, which gives your body an, almost, overall massage effect at the molecular level, which helps induce relaxation.
How to use it…
There are various ways in which people can administer CBD, which is available as an oil or a powder and which then can be made into creams and gels which can be applied directly onto the areas affected by RA or OA.
Some people take CBD as a spray or in a capsule – it’s becoming such a marketable product that it’s even available as a vape, ice-cream, and in coffee! So be aware if you do take it for RA or OA, that you get it in its purest form and not as a gimmick.
Arthritis involves your immune system attacking the tissues in your joints, so because CBD can be applied directly onto the affected joint, it could explain why treatment with CBD seems to work so well for many sufferers.
According to a report from the World Health Organization in 2018, ‘In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.
Because of big businesses cashing in on its popularity, there has been lots of speculation as to its authenticity in some regions of the health marketplace.
Research is still being conducted into how it can further be used, and it is still available as an unregulated supplement, which, as with any wonder drug, can be exploited.
This means that because many CBD products are available in health shops and online, they might be illegal and potentially dangerous to use. Still, as a prescription medicine issued by doctors, they can give serious benefits to many people living with arthritis.
So, administered with a doctor’s advice and ensuring it won’t affect any other medication you are taking, there’s no reason why treatment with CBD won’t bring relief to most OA and RA sufferers.
Professor of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience at King’s College, London, Philip McGuire, is a researcher into the benefits of CBD and how it works.
“There’s huge interest in it as a potential new treatment. One of the interesting things about the endocannabinoid system in the body is that it’s not just in the brain but also all over the body,” he explains. “And cannabidiol also appears to have beneficial effects on metabolism, on the immune system and liver function, in addition to its mental health effects.”
It, therefore, does appear that it’s good news for CBD as a treatment for arthritis pain. Researchers believe if it affects receptors in the brain and the immune system in the way they think it does, it is going to be great for sufferers of inflammation and pain.
As with anything, results will be different with each individual, and the amount of help one person may benefit from CBD may vary with another. This is why it’s so important you work with your doctor in administering it.