Benefits of Cannabis for Treating Arthritis
Arthritis is characterized by painful inflammation and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms are joint pain and stiffness which tend to worsen with age. Although this condition is common among the aging population, it can affect people of any age – including children.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is a degenerative disease that affects joint cartilage and bones. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of the joints, resulting in painful immobility and deformity. Risk factors include family history, obesity, and previous joint injuries. An additional risk factor is gender, for example women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure. Treatments are aimed to improve the quality of life through alleviation of symptoms such as pain. There is currently no universally effective medication to treat arthritis. Patients are usually treated with analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and biologic response modifiers. However, these treatments are often associated with nausea, abdominal pain, edema, and ulceration. Over the past few years, an increasing number of patients are seeking cannabis to treat symptoms of arthritis.
Cannabis for Treating Arthritis
Recent studies suggest that cannabis may alleviate arthritis symptoms, specifically pain and inflammation. Studies have shown that cannabinoids found in cannabis, specifically delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), can both relieve inflammation.
Preclinical models of inflammatory arthritis mimicking human rheumatoid arthritis have demonstrated a decrease in joint destruction through the upregulation of cannabinoid receptor activity or through an increased production of endocannabinoids. Some cannabinoids are immunosuppressive. One receptor, the Cannabinoid receptor Type-2, is expressed predominantly by immune cells and peripheral nerve terminals. A study determined the impact of a selective Cannabinoid receptor Type-2 agonist as a potential therapeutic target in rheumatoid arthritis through inhibition of inflammatory mediators.
Preclinical and human experimental settings support that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is actively involved in the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis-associated joint pain. A study found that the activation of peripheral Cannabinoid receptor Type-1, which are expressed predominantly by cells in the central nervous system, reduced the sensitivity to a mechanical stimulus of afferent nerve fibers in rat osteoarthritic knees joints. These receptors may be potential therapeutic targets in osteoarthritis.
Researchers have also found that regulating the inflammatory response may treat neuropathic pain. CBD has shown to reduce pain by interacting with specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system to increase anandamide, an endocannabinoid involved in reducing the sensation of pain. The therapeutic potential of CBD has been investigated in murine collagen-induced arthritis. CBD was demonstrated to have a strong anti-arthritic effect through its combined anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions. In 2012, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine discovered that marijuana reduces pain, specifically patients revealed a 50% decrease in pain perception.
Cannabis may be an effective therapeutic strategy to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from arthritis. If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Smart Leaf Health Services. Schedule an appointment today and we will connect you with the right qualified physician covered by Alberta Health, and Health Canada Approved Licensed Producers.