If you have chronic arthritis pain, you may be wondering about CBD for arthritis as a treatment. CBD, along with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals, is found in marijuana. But unlike THC, CBD is not ‘psychoactive’ – that is, it does not cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use. There even might be a good chance you’ve tried it already! According to a Gallup poll last year, about 14% of Americans report using CBD products, and the number one reason is pain. The Arthritis Foundation conducted its own poll and found that 29% reported current use of CBD (mostly in liquid or topical form) and nearly 80% of respondents were either using it, had used it in the past, or were considering it. Of those using it, most reported an improvement in physical function, sleep, and well-being; while a minority reported improvement in pain or stiffness.
Perhaps you’ve been tempted to try it. After all, most types of arthritis are not cured by other treatments, and CBD is considered a less addictive option than opiates. Or maybe it’s the marketing that recommends CBD products for everything from arthritis to anxiety to seizures.
What’s the evidence it works? And what do experts recommend? Until recently, there has been little research and even less guidance for people (or their doctors) interested in CBD products. These products are now increasingly legal and widely promoted.
It’s worth emphasizing that there are more than 100 types of arthritis, and while pain is a cardinal feature of all of them, these conditions do not all act alike. And what works for one may not work for another. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and stiffness and maintaining function for all types of arthritis. But for certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, conventional prescription medications are highly recommended, because these drugs help prevent permanent joint damage and worsening disability.
In addition, individuals experience pain and respond to treatment in different ways. As a result, it’s highly unlikely that there is a single CBD-containing product that works for all people with all types of arthritis.
CBD for Arthritis Pain:
While there are laboratory studies suggesting CBD might be a promising approach, there are also animal studies that prove CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. But unfortunately, for now, there are no well-designed studies demonstrating compelling evidence that CBD is safe and effective for chronic arthritis pain in humans. A randomized trial of topical CBD for osteoarthritis of the knee has been published, but in abstract form only (meaning it’s a preliminary report that summarizes the trial and has not been thoroughly vetted yet); the trial lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed at best. One of the largest reviews examined the health effects of cannabis and CBD, and concluded that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” But there was no specific conclusion regarding CBD, presumably because definitive studies were not available.
Of course, there is anecdotal evidence and testimonials galore of CBD oil benefits for arthritis, including reports of dramatic improvement by people who tried CBD in its various forms (including liquid, topical, spray, and capsule) for their pain. But we are still waiting for well-designed, scientifically valid, and rigorous clinical trials (such as this one in progress) that are desperately needed to reveal just how helpful CBD may be to people with chronic arthritis pain.
What are the cons of CBD treatment?
Like any treatment, there are cons to this one as well. CBD is generally considered safe, however, it can still cause lightheadedness, sleepiness, dry mouth, and rarely, liver problems. There may be uncertainty about the potency or purity of CBD products (since they are not regulated as prescription medications are), and CBD can interact with other medications. For pregnant women, concern has been raised about a possible link between inhaled cannabis and lower-birthweight babies, but it’s not clear if this applies to CBD.
Some pain specialists have concerns that CBD may upset the body’s natural system of pain regulation, leading to tolerance (so that higher doses are needed for the same effect), though the potential for addiction is generally considered to below.
There is one definite downside though – it’s cost. Prices for CBD range widely but they aren’t usually inexpensive. Depending on dose, frequency, and formulation, the cost can be considerable, and health insurance does not usually cover it.
Until recently, little guidance has been available for people who want CBD relief for arthritis. Depending on availability and interest, patients and their doctors have to decide on their own whether CBD was a reasonable option in each specific case. To a large degree, that’s still true, but some guidelines have been published.
Here are some recommendations from the Arthritis Foundation and a recent commentary published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research that you can follow for dos and don’ts about using CBD for chronic arthritis pain. We’ve also listed out a few important ones for you here.
- Choose a CBD product that has been independently tested for purity, potency, and safety. Look for one that has received a ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’ (GMP) certification.
- CBD should be one part of an overall pain management plan that includes non-medication options (such as exercise) and psychological support.
- Start with oral treatment with a low dose, preferably in the evening.
- Don’t make CBD your first choice for pain relief. It’s better to consider it if and when other treatments have not been effective enough.
- Don’t have non-medical practitioners (such as those selling CBD products) managing your chronic pain.
- Make sure you buy organic CBD which has been cultivated without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or heavy metals. Nass Valley Gardens has its own dedicated lab filled with personal care experts. Our dedication to research and development is shown through our promise to source ethically, formulate with efficacy, and testing honestly. Get your hands on our CBD products!
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