Can Cannabis Treat Arthritis?

Arthritis is a debilitating condition characterized by pain and swelling of the joints. With over 100 different types of arthritis, it can be challenging to find a treatment that works. The good news is that recent science shows that medical cannabis can help patients suffering from the symptoms of arthritis, and a growing number are reporting success with both THC and CBD. If you’re interested in learning how cannabis can improve the quality of life for people with arthritis, keep reading because this article is for you.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term that’s used to describe over a hundred conditions related to inflammation, swelling, and joint stiffness. The disease doesn’t discriminate, and people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds battle arthritis daily. Although it’s widespread, it remains one of the most misunderstood diseases worldwide. It can strike many different parts of the body, but often affects weight-bearing joints like knees, hips, and spine.

Cannabis and arthritis in the knee

Cannabis for Arthritis Pain

Cannabis is becoming a popular treatment for people suffering from arthritis, and it’s easy to understand why. The bottom line is that arthritis is caused by inflammation, and cannabis has been shown to treat inflammation.

How does it work? The answer lies in the cannabinoids. These are the active compounds in cannabis that interact with cannabinoid receptors that occur naturally in the body as a part of our endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Cannabis and arthritis endocannabinoid system

The ECS keeps our physiological system in balance. When it’s activated through medical cannabis, it can work to counteract various forms of pain. If the ECS is having trouble regulating inflammation, introducing cannabinoids can make up for the deficit and help restore balance to the system. While the cannabis plant produces over a hundred different types of cannabinoids, the ones with the most potential benefit for arthritis are THC and CBD.

Research on Cannabis for Arthritis

While more studies are needed to fully understand the best ways to use cannabis to treat arthritis, what we do know so far looks promising. One study conducted in 2006 found that cannabis-based medicine was able to significantly help patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and allowed them to regain joint movement restricted by pain. The patients also reported reduced pain while at rest and overall better quality of sleep.

Cannabis and arthritis man relaxing

Another study from 2013 showed that medical cannabis could bring pain relief to knee joints in osteoarthritis patients. Joint tissue inflammation is unusually high in people with arthritis, and researchers think that cannabis fights inflammation in the joints by activating pathways called CB2 receptors.

Cannabis for Inflammation

Beyond acting as a powerful pain reliever, cannabis is a potent anti-inflammatory, suggesting that it could work to treat the root cause of arthritis, not just the symptoms. While THC is often the go-to cannabinoid for pain relief, researchers have found that when CBD is metabolized, it can release a compound that packs a similar anti-inflammatory punch as NSAID drugs. CBD is also an excellent option for people who want a natural alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers without the psychoactive effects of THC.

If you or a loved one has been suffering from pain associated with arthritis, it might be time to consider an alternative treatment like cannabis. If you’d like to learn more about how cannabis can work for you, make an appointment today to speak with our knowledgeable staff.