- Author Mark Smith
- Published August 15, 2020
- Word count 652
There has been an explosion of new cannabidiol (CBD) products hitting the market, and today more than ever it’s important to be as informed as possible before trying it out for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain relief.
Because of marijuana’s somewhat tumultuous history, research on the positive properties of hemp plants’ derivatives such as cannabidiol oil has been extremely limited. There are also plenty of marketing schemes making unsubstantiated claims that promise relief from a wide range of ailments like ear aches and Alzheimers disease.
Understandably, this has caused many people to question its use for modern day health issues, including RA primarily because there has yet to be enough long-term, or in-depth studies to feel confident.
On the positive side, the FDA has finally approved one CBD product called Epidiolex,
a prescription drug product used to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. It is encouraging that research is being taken seriously now, and the results so far are positive.
Just what is CBD?
To clear things up, CBD is NOT “psychoactive” — that is, it does not cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use. CBD is a medicinal product derived from hemp. Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis plants, but they are very different from each other. They each have different quantities of various phytocannabinoids, which are substances naturally found in the cannabis plant. You can think of it like how different kinds of berries contain different combinations of antioxidants.
Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the cannabinoid that makes you high. CBD cannot get you high. Marijuana, on the other hand, contains an abundance of THC.
How does CBD work?
CBD works with your endocannabinoid system, which is a group of receptors in the body that are affected by the dozens of other documented cannabinoids. CBD is thought to work on pain in two parts of the body: the site of soreness (such as your finger joints) and the central nervous system, which sends pain signals to the brain when it detects certain stimulation or damage to nerves and cells.
The ability for CBD to calm that response is one reason the compound might be a viable pain remedy for people with RA. Another is CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation occurs when your body is fighting a perceived infection. In autoimmune diseases such as RA, the immune system is attacking healthy parts of your body like your joints.
Will CBD work for me?
CBD could be worth exploring as a potential solution for RA pain as part of an overall arthritis treatment plan, but keep in mind that there are more than 100 types of arthritis. With rheumatoid arthritis, conventional prescription medications are highly recommended to continue taking, because these drugs help prevent permanent joint damage and worsening disability. CBD is used to primarily help cope with the pain, not prevent or cure RA.
Reports from people who have started incorporating CBD into their arthritis treatment have been positive. One person posted on a Facebook group called Creaky Joints that topical CBD “helps better than any other ointment I’ve ever used.”
You can find plenty of positive results out there.
Because we are still waiting for well-designed, scientifically valid, and rigorous clinical trials, it’s important that you check with a trusted rheumatoid arthritis doctor before trying CBD. Pain management should always be a conversation between you and your doctor, even if it includes CBD.
Keep in mind also that CBD is not inexpensive. Prices range widely and depending on dose, frequency, and formulation, the cost can be considerable — some are as much as $ 120/month, and health insurance does not usually cover it.
In the years to come, CBD may become one of the most valuable treatments for chronic RA pain, and even many treatment-resistant mood disorders experienced by millions of Americans. One day, it may also be covered under insurance plans.
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