The number of Americans suffering from arthritis is downright shocking. In 2015, nearly 23% of all Americans were diagnosed with arthritis, and by 2040, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that will increase to 26%. In other words, a quarter of all Americans must cope with the pain of arthritis. The condition takes many forms and has many causes, some of which are unavoidable; these causes include obesity, infection, injury, and aging. With 55 million Americans suffering from arthritis, some experts say that it’s hit epidemic proportions.
And the effects of arthritis can be crippling. In fact, having arthritis can effectively take years off of your life due to an increased likelihood of injury and can severely limit your mobility on a daily basis. Conventional medicine and lifestyle changes help curb some symptoms of arthritis, but many of these treatments come with side effects or are difficult to sustain. Fortunately, there’s good news for people who are suffering. It turns out there’s a new weapon in the war against arthritis pain: cannabidiol, or CBD.
How CBD Fights Inflammatory Arthritis
The primary characteristic of most types of arthritis is inflammation. In many cases, this inflammation is caused by an underlying autoimmune disorder; this is the case with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus. With these disorders, your immune system essentially goes into overdrive, causing your body to attack its own tissues. This action causes inflammation, leading to the swollen joints that we associate with arthritis, as well as internal inflammation that causes other symptoms.
Researchers are now studying CBD as a treatment for inflammatory arthritis. It turns out that this non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the hemp, or cannabis, plant, may be a lifesaver for people with inflammatory problems. A study published in 2009 found that CBD suppresses the inflammatory response and, therefore, minimizes the symptoms of inflammatory disorders. In 2015, a review of the medical literature on CBD found extensive evidence that it’s beneficial for treating inflammation.
If you’re suffering from inflammation from arthritis and want to try CBD as a treatment, you have options. In some places, arthritis patients can get a prescription for cannabis-based medications to treat their symptoms. Otherwise, people can use CBD-based oils derived from the hemp plant to treat their inflammation. Results have been positive for both methods of treatment.
How CBD Helps Arthritis Pain
While CBD treats the cause of arthritis suffering (inflammation), it also works fast to treat its most unpleasant symptom — pain. The power of cannabidiol to treat pain is well-established, and it seems to be especially useful for pain caused by inflammation. While THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is often prescribed to treat pain, a 2008 study suggests that CBD is even more effective as an analgesic (pain killer), without any of the psychoactive side effects. This same study recommends considering cannabis-based medicine for pain that is otherwise difficult to treat. Best of all, treating pain with CBD avoids all of the terrible side effects caused by other conventional pain killers like opioids.
Researchers recently discovered one of the most exciting developments in the treatment of arthritis pain with CBD. Published in 2015 in the European Journal of Pain, the study looked at the use of “transdermal CBD,” or CBD that is applied to and absorbed by the skin. Although this was a preliminary study, researchers concluded that CBD had “long-lasting therapeutic effects,” without the side effects of either traditional pain medication or cannabis use.
By applying the CBD topically, patients can avoid any possible gastrointestinal issues or contraindications. There’s also evidence that putting the medicinal CBD directly onto the skin is the most efficient method of dosing for pain relief. Finally, patients who otherwise wouldn’t use CBD because of the stigma around using cannabis may find that topical CBD application is a more comfortable method of consumption.
The Future of Treating Arthritis with CBD
For patients who want to use CBD to treat their arthritis, the future looks very bright. Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are continuing to study the power of CBD and developing cannabis-based medications. Doctors and other medical professionals who may not have considered prescribing CBD before are now starting to wake up to its potential. And the public perception of cannabis as medicine has changed dramatically in recent decades.
In the meantime, people can treat their symptoms with CBD at home. Topically applied CBD treatments are easy to use and are available in most places. People should start slowly and increase their CBD treatments until they get sufficient relief. Individuals who’ve been dealing with the pain of arthritis for years may finally get some respite, all thanks to the healing power of cannabidiol.
Don’t know where to find legal CBD in your area? Read the article we published here.