News, Treatment

Using Cannabis to Help Treat the Excruciating Symptoms of Gout

September 23, 2020 03:00 am ET

A type of arthritis known as ‘gout’ is common, complex, and can affect anyone. Patients who suffer from gout are plagued by sudden and severe spikes of pain, swelling, and more. This condition affects the joints but is often the joint at the base of the big toe. Gout is triggered by arthropathy which is a joint disease. Luckily, the pain from gout in joints is directly linked to the body’s endocannabinoid system (the ECS). 

What is Gout?

Gout is a medical condition that is sometimes referred to as podagra when the big toe is involved. The biggest difference between the other types of arthritis and gout concerns the pain experienced. With arthritis, the pain tends to be more of a consistent ache as opposed to the sudden attacks, or spikes, often associated with gout. A spike of gout can take place suddenly while doing everyday activities such as walking or sleeping. Gout can best be explained as the inflammation of any joints; however, it is particularly the joints at the base of big toes. The inflammation leads to some intense and inhibiting symptoms. 

Symptoms of Gout

  • Joint Pain: When an individual is experiencing a spike in gout, the pain can be intense and is most severe between the first 4 to 12 hours after the spike.
  • Discomfort: The discomfort can seem as though it is lingering as the discomfort can last for a few days to a few weeks after the most intense pain has passed. Spikes in gout that occur later can often lead to even longer lasting discomfort which can have an effect on more joints.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation of the joint(s) can lead to swelling, tenderness, heat, and redness of the joint and surrounding area.
  • Limited Range of Motion: As gout continues to impact the individuals’ life and progresses, it can lead to the immobility of the affected joint(s).

Gout can be caused when crystals, called urate, start to accumulate in the joint. Urate crystals are formed when your body has high levels of uric acid in the blood. Certain disorders such as blood, kidney, and thyroid diseases can make it difficult for the body to remove excess uric acid. A diet that is high in purines can also contribute to the onset of gout. High purine foods include organ meats, red meats, oily fish like sardines and anchovies, beans, mushrooms, and certain vegetables like asparagus and cauliflower. 

Gout Treatment with Cannabis

How Can Cannabis Help?

Thanks to the connection between the joint and the ECS, cannabis can do a lot for people struggling from gout. One of cannabis’s reasons most cited for use has to do with its’ effectiveness in alleviating pain, swelling, and inflammation. Cannabis has compounds called cannabinoids and different types of cannabinoids benefit arthritis patients (includes gout patients) in different ways. For example, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) works as the pain reliever while cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabidiol (CBD) work their anti-inflammatory power to reduce swelling, inflammation, and tenderness. 

Cannabis, Gout and the ECS

The signaling system in the nervous system of the body is called the endocannabinoid system (the ECS). This signaling system is responsible for moderating the levels of pain we feel, amongst other things. The cannabinoids from the cannabis product interact and stimulate the cannabinoid receptors which are found in the ECS. When cannabis stimulates the receptors in the ECS, it leads to reduced pain perception and reduced inflammation. It is the unique relationship between cannabis and the ECS which makes cannabis so beneficial in so many manners. 

The current treatment options include different pharmaceutical medications, applying daily, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, pegloticase, and steroids. Cannabis can be added to that list unofficially. Unfortunately, there is still a shortage of research on cannabis and gout specifically. However, there is promising evidence and research available on (1) cannabidiol as an oral anti-arthritic therapy, on (2) cannabidiol reducing inflammation and pain in arthritis and on (3) using cannabinoids as medication for osteoarthritic knees. Research such as these, assist in indicating how cannabis can help those suffering from gout. 

The research displayed that when CBD was applied topically on rats with arthritis, their inflammation and pain was eased. On a survey of 600 people suffering from arthritis, 1 out of 5 used CBD to ease their pain and inflammation. Doctors involved in the studies are also hopeful for the possibility of replacing opioid medications with medicinal cannabis. 

Preventative Tips to Consider:

  • Drink plenty of water and limited sweetened beverages. 
  • Minimize or avoid alcohol as much as possible. 
  • Try to get protein from sources that are low-fat dairy products. 
  • Try to limit the amount of purine-rich foods in your diet. 
  • Maintain healthy body weight. 

Gout can be one of the most painful types of arthritis which is why having effective and less-risky treatment options available is important. Medical cannabis can be as easily accessible, affordable, effective, and all-natural treatment for the pain, inflammation, and accompanying symptoms. Cannabis can also be consumed in a variety of forms such as being eaten, applied, or inhaled. Even though there is no research available specifically related to gout and cannabis, professionals are feeling confident that the medical benefits from cannabis for arthritis will also apply to gout. 

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