Arthritic conditions are more prevalent than people think. According to the statistics, 54 million adults, or roughly two-thirds of the working population is affected. It is even more astonishing that 300,000 babies and children have been diagnosed with arthritis or a rheumatic condition.1
Cannabidiol (CBD) and the endocannabinoid system have been the subjects of research on new ways to remedy the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Highlighted below is an overview of what research has shown so far.
CBD and Arthritis Pain: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by degenerative conditions in the joints and bones that cause the cartilage to wear away. This results in bone rubbing against bone, resulting in pain and swelling.2
Joints that receive the most strain and stress often deteriorate faster, and the worst symptoms occur in the hips, knees, and thumbs. Nociceptive pain, which comes from damaged tissues is the primary type of pain experienced, but neuropathic pain also occurs.3
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that targets healthy tissues and causes inflammation in the joints. It is most prevalent in the hands and feet, where swollen stiff joints can make mobility painful and difficult. RA is characterized by a combination of nociceptive and neuropathic pain. This condition is more common in women than in men.4
CBD for Arthritis Pain and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD is a phytocompound, or cannabinoid, produced by the cannabis plant. Like most cannabinoids, CBD has a unique way of interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates homeostasis.4,5
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As part of its role in maintaining homeostasis, the ECS controls elements of the inflammatory response. Because of this, since its discovery less than half a century ago, the widespread role of ECS in the body indicates that cannabinoids may be used for alleviating symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis.6
Because CBD can be used to modulate the activity of ECS receptors, it may also be used to encourage anti-inflammatory activity in the body. At 1–10µM, CBD acts as an inverse agonist at CB1 and CB2 receptors, consequently modulating the inflammatory response.7
Studies on CBD for Arthritis Pain
The following are a few examples of the many studies that have been conducted to determine the efficacy of CBD in addressing the symptoms of arthritis.
CBD Affects the Experience of Pain
According to a 2018 review, CBD regulates the perception of pain by affecting G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) like 5HT1-A, ion channels (TRPV1), while inhibiting uptake and hydrolysis of anandamide (AEA) by fatty acid amino hydrolase (FAAH).8
Topical CBD Application Relieves Pain and Inflammation
This 2016 study demonstrated that transdermal CBD injection provided inflammation and pain relief for rats inducted with arthritic conditions.9 This indicates that topical CBD use could have the potential for relieving symptoms of certain arthritic conditions.
Early CBD Treatment Can Protect from Neuropathic Pain by Preventing Nerve Damage in OA
Treatment with CBD was tested for its capacity to interfere with nociceptive and neuropathic pain associated with OA. Findings showed that topical treatment was effective for relieving regular pain, and preventative treatment was effective for protecting nerve damage and neuropathic pain in rat models.10
For those who hope to take advantage of the potential pain-relieving power of CBD products, the best course of action is to speak with your regular healthcare provider for advice.
Since research into using CBD for chronic conditions, and in general, is in its early stages, this approach might be an option for the future but not the present or might be suggested as a complement to an established treatment plan.
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