Rheumatoid Arthritis and Medical Cannabis Treatment
The combined autoimmune and inflammatory condition rheumatoid arthritis (RA) mostly attacks the hand, wrist and knee joints, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), adding it can also cause eye, heart, and lung conditions. The CDC reports that between 2013-2015, up to 54.4 million adult Americans were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia.
According to the CDC, the common condition can be treated by medication and “self-management strategies,” while other research reports show that cannabis can ease the painful condition. WebMD reports that while researchers still are unsure of all cannabis effects, they do indicate that there is substantial evidence that it can help relieve long-term pain, and pain is a major symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.”
Noting that cannabis has more hundreds of chemicals and compounds that affect the entire body, WebMD specifically points out TCH and CBD, two prominent plant properties. According to several small studies, WebMD states sufferers of RA who used medical cannabis had curbed morning pain, improved sleep, and less inflamed joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
Caused by combined autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, RA has several uncomfortable symptoms including pain or aching in joints, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in more than one joint, weight loss, fever, fatigue, and weakness, reports the CDC. There are also several risk factors for RA that include age, smoking, sex, genetics, and obesity.
Treatments for RA vary, but some notable medications are disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals. As noted, self-management strategies” also ease RA, including following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
Leveraging Cannabinoids for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
A 2019 Current Opinion in Rheumatology journal stated the scientific reason why cannabis is useful for RA patients. “Cannabinoids show anti-inflammatory effects by activating cannabinoid type 2 receptors (CB2) which decrease cytokine production and immune cell mobilization,” according to the report. “In contrast, cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1) activation on immune cells is proinflammatory while CB1 antagonism provides anti-inflammatory effects by increasing β2-adrenergic signaling in the joint and secondary lymphoid organs.”
In laymen’s terms, researchers summarized cannabinoids might be an appropriate treatment for RA, “but it is important to target the right receptors in the right place.” The Everyday Health website reports on the pros and cons of medical cannabis delivery systems for RA patients, noting how patients can weigh their options. While topical ointments offer immediate pain relief without any psychoactive effects, they do have an odor and only provide short-term relief.
As for pills and capsules, “dosage is consistent, it doesn’t require inhaling, and the pain-relieving effects can last for up to eight hours,” reports Everyday Health, adding cons include expense and up to two-hour relief time. Lastly, the pros of edible cannabis are no smoke or vapor, but the drawback is that “THC isn’t usually evenly distributed throughout the product.”
Be it ointment, capsule or an edible, or any other form; medical cannabis is showing to ease RA pain for sufferers young and old, which is a welcome relief for those with the condition that brings on chronic pain.