Medical Cannabis for Arthritis

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Arthritis is a seriously debilitating condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints and limbs. It is estimated that one in ten people live with some form of arthritis in America (cdc.org, 2017). Essentially, 30 million American Citizens are disabled by arthritis and its debilitating side effects and recent polls show the number could actually be twice that amount! As serious and far-reaching as it is, there is unfortunately no known cure. At best, Western medicine has attempted to diminish the symptoms of arthritis with harsh medications including opiates for pain and steroids for inflammation. These medications are not without their own risks and side effects. A popular alternative is the use of medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana. Medical cannabis is proving to be an effective solution for patients suffering from various forms of arthritis. Not only does medical cannabis provide pain relief, it has natural anti-inflammatory properties and lacks the unfortunate side effects of opiates and steroid medication.

Two of the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most commonly found form of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that is characterized by the eventual wearing down of cartilage at the ends of bones. It can affect hands, knees, hips, lower back, neck, and other parts of the body. It is extremely uncomfortable and unfortunately unavoidable for the millions of people who suffer from it. Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, is an autoimmune condition that attacks the joints. It can lead to injuries that cannot properly heal, stiffness, swelling, fatigue, loss of appetite, and eventually loss of the affected limb’s ability to function properly (arthritis.org).

As painful and debilitating as arthritis can be, the evidence is pointing to medical cannabis being able to treat inflammatory diseases with success in treating arthritis in particular. Clinical trials are supporting the idea that the body’s endocannabinoid system plays a large part in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis (La Porta, et al., 2014). In another trial, the cannabinoid called cannabidiol, also known as CBD, showed that it was effective at blocking the progression of arthritis! The scientists in this trial concluded that not only did CBD protect the joints from arthritic damage but it also helped by offering strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties while simultaneously helping to reverse the damage caused to joints by arthritis (Sumariwalla, et al., 2004) (Sumariwalla, et al., 2009).

Medical cannabis is well known for its remarkable ability to treat pain and is particularly beneficial for patients suffering from the neuropathic pain associated with arthritis. The cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system. These two receptors are associated with the body’s ability to regulate the release of neurotransmitters and immune cells from the central nervous system, allowing the body to naturally fight neuropathic pain (Woodhams, Sagar, Burston & Chapman, 2015). In yet another study, the activation of the CB1 receptor was, in particular, quite effective for eliminating pain in an arthritic knee joint (Schuelert & McDougall, 2008). Remarkably, many studies are showing by activating the CB1 the CB2 receptors, medical cannabis can promote proper bone formation and block bone resorption by the body (Bab & Zimmer, 2008) (Idris, et al., 2009) (Ofek, et al., 2006).

Arthritis has been a difficult and stubborn condition for those who suffer from it. The treatments available have been unable to stop or cure the development of this disease and, in the case of using opiates and steroid medications for pain relief, can actually cause the patient to suffer from unwanted side effects in addition to their arthritis! Medical cannabis is non-invasive and medical research is showing that it can help to manage the symptoms, stop the progression, and even reverse the damage caused by arthritis.

Written by: Mara Trivino ©KingHarvest.org

Sources:


1. “National Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Mar. 2017, www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/national-statistics.html.
2. “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Www.arthritis.org, www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/.
3. La Porta, C., Bura, S.A., Negrete, R., and Maldonado, R. (2014, February). Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. The European Journal of Neuroscience, 39(3), 485-500. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/ejn.12468/full.
4.Sumariwalla, P.F., Gallily, R., Tchilibon, S., Fride, E., Mechoulam, R., and Feldmann, M. (2004, March). A novel synthetic, nonpsychoactive cannabinoid acid (HU-320) with antiinflammatory properties in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 50(3), 985-98. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.20050/full.
5.Sumariwalla, P.F., Palmer, C.D., Pickford, L.B., Feldmann, M., Foxwell, B.M., and Brennan, F.M. (2009, January). Suppression of tumour necrosis factor production from mononuclear cells by a novel synthetic compound, CLX-090717. Rheumatology (Oxford), 48(1), 32-8. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/rheumatology/ken398.
6. Schuelert, N., and McDougall, J.J. (2008, January). Cannabinoid-mediated antinociception is enhanced in rat osteoarthritic knees. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 58(1), 145-53. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.23156/full.
7. Bab, I., & Zimmer, A. (2008). Cannabinoid receptors and the regulation of bone mass. British Journal of Pharmacology, 153(2), 182–188. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2219540/.
8. Idris, A.I., Sophocleous, A., Landao-Bassonga, E., Canals, M., Milligan, G., Baker, D., van’t Hof, R.J., and Ralston, S.H. (2009, August). Cannabinoid receptor type 1 protects against age-related osteoporosis by regulating osteoblast and adipocyte differentiation in marrow stromal cells. Cell Metabolism, 10(2), 139-47. Retrieved from http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(09)00202-2.
9. Ofek, O., Karsak, M., Leclerc, N., Fogel, M., Frenkel, B., Wright, K., Tam, J., Attar-Namdar, M., Kram, V., Shohami, E., Mechoulam, R., Zimmer, A., and Bab, I. (2006). Peripheral cannabinoid receptor, CB2, regulates bone mass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(3), 696–701. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1334629/.