Cannabidiol, or CBD, is making waves in online arthritis support groups and forums due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. But is there any real merit behind the hype?
As it turns out, CBD is the talk of the medical community too. According to scientific research, this plant-based compound reduces multiple symptoms of arthritis and has the potential to drastically improve the quality of life for those suffering from this debilitating condition.
New and promising research on CBD and arthritis is being released each year. Here are the most exciting findings so far.
CBD REDUCES PAIN AND SWELLING CAUSED BY OSTEOARTHRITIS
A recent study published in the scientific journal Pain described how CBD was used to inhibit inflammation and reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA) in rats.
To conduct the study, scientists performed a procedure to induce OA in rats. Then, they injected the affected joint with CBD. Researchers measured levels of pain and inflammation in the rats after administering three different sized doses of CBD and compared them to a control reading in which no CBD was used.
The Findings:Scientists measured a reduction in pain and inflammation that correlated directly to the amount of CBD injected into the rats’ joints. This shows conclusively that CBD is responsible for a reduction in joint pain caused by arthritis.
CBD BALMS AND CREAMS SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE ARTHRITIC SYMPTOMS
In one of the first studies to analyze the effects of transdermal CBD, scientists demonstrated that CBD could be an effective topical treatment for arthritis (as opposed to administering CBD into the body via injection or as an oral supplement).
For this study, CBD gel was applied to the arthritic knees of rats. Scientists then measured the resulting levels of pain and inflammation in each subject.
The Findings:There was a very significant reduction in joint swelling and pain as well as a marked reduction in pro-inflammatory compounds in the spinal cords of the subjects. This suggests that CBD creams, salves, and balms are a promising form of quick pain relief for arthritis.
CBD INCREASED JOINT MOVEMENT AND DECREASED PAIN CAUSED BY RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
In this study, scientists tested an oral CBD and THC spray called Sativex against a placebo in a group of 58 human subjects suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study was conducted over 5 weeks, and the spray was administered daily.
In this double-blind study, scientists measured the patients’ levels of pain, stiffness, mobility, quality of rest and more.
The Findings:The group given Sativex experienced a significant reduction in pain as well as improved mobility and quality of sleep compared to the group given the placebo. This suggests that CBD could be a viable treatment for RA symptoms. However, because THC was also a factor in this study, more research is necessary.
CBD SUPPRESSES THE BODY’S INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as a chronic inflammatory disease. This means that at its root, RA is caused by an immune system disorder that triggers an inflammatory response. Over time, this causes joints to break down, which restricts movement and causes pain.
In a number of studies involving humans, mice, and rats, CBD was shown to inhibit inflammation that specifically causes arthritis.
The Findings:In studies in which subjects were given daily doses of CBD, levels of pain and inflammation were reduced. By combating the inflammatory response, CBD was also shown to inhibit the progression of arthritis and improve already established arthritis. This means that taking CBD may not only relieve the symptoms of arthritis, but it could also halt and reverse the condition.
CBD RELIEVES ARTHRITIC INFLAMMATION AND PAIN WITHOUT SIDE EFFECTS
To be clear, CBD may have some minor side effects. When we say “without side effects,” we are referring to the lengthy list of side effects associated with popular arthritis treatments.
These side effects include an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but the most troubling is a suppression of the immune response. This suppression is how the drugs fight arthritis, but it can also weaken the immune system’s ability to fight infection. This is especially risky for the elderly.
The Findings:In the studies above, no evident side effects were measured in subjects that were given CBD for arthritis (including immune system suppression).
Some minor to moderate side effects were reported in the Sativex study, but this is because patients were also given THC (THC is known to have a number of psychoactive and physical side effects). The results of these studies suggest that CBD is safer than common arthritis treatments currently available.
CBD FOR ARTHRITIS: IS THE EVIDENCE CONCLUSIVE?
There is a lot of promising evidence that suggests CBD can treat arthritis, but that doesn’t mean you should throw your arthritis meds out the window and stock up on CBD.
A lot more research is necessary to understand the effects of CBD, especially on human subjects. However, many researchers believe we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to the benefits of CBD for arthritis.