According to the Arthritis Foundation, 54 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. It is the leading cause of disability among adults in the developed world.
Despite the prevalence of arthritis, there are not many effective treatment options for the condition other than pharmaceutical painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs – which often come with unwanted side effects and fail to address the underlying cause of the condition.
Due to its wide range of analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has received much attention recently as a promising treatment for arthritis.
Here we will discuss how CBD can benefit both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. We will go over what the research says and how people currently use CBD and offer a guideline on dosage.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints. It is generally slow, with symptoms worsening over time. It is most common in the elderly, overweight individuals and athletes
There are many different types of arthritis depending on the cause – but we normally classify them into one of two categories: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
1. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Each of our cells has a special protein “tag” attached to the outside of the cell. This tells the immune cells (T cells and B cells) that it is meant to be there – just like someone has a hall pass. Without this “hall pass”, it will be attacked and destroyed by the immune cells in sight.
With autoimmune diseases, there is a disorder in this system.
Here are some things that can go wrong:
- The tags on the outside of the cell are marked incorrectly.
- The cells do not have the tag on the outside of the cell.
- The immune cells ignore the tag and attack the cell.
In all these events, the results are practically the same: the T cells and the B cells begin to attack the body’s own cells. When this occurs in the joint tissue, we end up with rheumatoid arthritis.
The properties of this condition are redness and swelling in the joints. Usually, the affected joints appear equally inflamed on both sides of the body and are often described as “hot”.
Osteoarthritis is also characterized by pain, sore joints – but it is not an autoimmune disease.
Osteoarthritis begins with a low degree of inflammation in the joints, which causes damage to the cartilage and cells that produce the slippery synovial fluid that reduces friction and aids in smooth movement within the joints. When a joint begins to deteriorate from the breakdown of cartilage, the inflammation increases.
This condition is self-destructive – the worse it gets, the faster it progresses.
The primary treatments for osteoarthritis involve the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, reducing joint movement and taking nutritional supplements to support synovial fluid and collagen production.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis can be cured depending on the degree of the condition and the patient’s willingness to change diet and lifestyle habits dramatically.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
- Pain around the joints
- Inflammation of the joints
- Loss of range of motion
Does CBD For Arthritis Improve Symptoms?
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. The cause of inflammation and tissue damage characterizes the condition as either rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune) or osteoarthritis (others).
CBD offers different benefits for each form of arthritis.
Most of these benefits come from CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties.
In the case of osteoarthritis, CBD fights the source of the inflammation by blocking important inflammatory messengers, such as TNF-α. It also blocks the pain caused by this inflammation.
Regarding rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation is much more severe because the body’s immune system attacks and destroys joint tissues. CBD supports this form of arthritis on many levels by regulating the immune cells that are responsible for causing most joint damage.
Normally, immune cells called T cells enter the joint tissue, activate and begin to attack. CBD slows down the process by making it more difficult for the T cells to become active in the joint – which reduces the degree of joint damage.
How does CBD work for arthritis?
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in several different processes throughout the body. Its broad effects give it a few different mechanisms for dealing with arthritis symptoms.
The main benefits of CBD associated with arthritis are the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Because both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are caused by underlying inflammatory processes and involve symptoms of pain and swelling, CBD is an excellent treatment option for both of these conditions.
The benefits of CBD for arthritis:
- Reduces inflammation
- Inhibits pain transmission
- Modulates hyperactive immune activity (rheumatoid arthritis)
Guide to Using CBD for Arthritis
There are two ways to think about the use of CBD in the treatment of arthritis: –
topically and internally. Both have their own positives and negatives, but the best treatment involves a combination of both.
Let us explore each application form in detail.
1. With CBD internally
CBD internally takes the cannabinoids to travel deep into inflamed tissues. This is important with arthritis because the inflammatory processes occur deep in the joint itself – far below structures such as bones and ligaments that slow down the absorption of topical cannabis.
Internal CBD is also necessary to achieve pain inhibition in the brain and spinal cord – something current CBD simply can not offer.
You can take CBD internally using one of the following products:
- CBD oils
- CBD tinctures
- CBD capsules
- CBD edibles and rubbers
- CBD vape oils and e-liquids
2. Use of CBD Topically
CBD balms and lotions are very useful for arthritis. They deliver the anti-inflammatory cannabinoids directly to the source. This form of CBD provides pain-reducing benefits directly at the site of injury but does not offer any inhibition on the pain pathway that leads up the spine and into the brain – where much of CBD’s analgesic effects take place.
For this reason, it is important that you use a combination of internal and topical CBD for arthritic pain – both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
When looking for topical CBD products to help manage symptoms, find a high-potency ointment, balm or cream. Many of the products on the market do not contain enough cannabinoids to realistically offer improvements for the condition.
How much CBD should I take?
The dose of CBD for arthritis may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and the type of arthritis.
For low-grade osteoarthritis – characterized by mild joint pain – a low intensity may be sufficient.
For rheumatoid arthritis or more severe osteoarthritis, a medium or high-strength dose of CBD may be necessary.
When trying CBD for the first time, it is recommended that you start with a low dose and gradually build up over time. Once you have found relief from your symptoms, you have found the right dose.
Final verdict: Using CBD for arthritis
CBD is an excellent option for people suffering from any type of arthritis – rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
The potent anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD make it an excellent treatment for the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis – which is highly dependent on autoimmunity. CBD stops T cells from proliferating and attacking the joint tissue and inhibits inflammation at several different levels.
In the case of osteoarthritis, CBD stops the low-quality inflammation that occurs in the cartilage region of the joints.
In addition, CBD effectively relieves pain arising from both types of arthritis.
For best results, it is recommended that you use both an internal form of CBD (such as an oil, tincture, capsule or edible), as well as a topical form that is applied to the affected joints directly.