October 12th marks World Arthritis Awareness Day, which is a global awareness-raising effort aimed to educate, support, and build a sense of community among arthritis patients. With an emphasis on early diagnosis and treatment, rheumatoid and musculoskeletal disease organizations work to foster a growing understanding of one of the world’s most prevalent conditions. As one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, arthritis affects the functioning and quality of life of more than 50 million Americans. Treatment options range from hydrotherapy to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, however, increased attention is being directed toward the healing potential of cannabidiol (CBD).
Ingesting or applying cannabidiol (CBD) to treat a variety of symptoms, ranging from seizures and inflammation to insomnia and anxiety, is growing in popularity nationwide. Consumers looking to alleviate their health concerns or simply join the trend can now choose to add CBD oil to their morning latte, take it daily in the form of capsules and even gummy vitamins, or feed it to their pets. Concurrently, researchers have been evaluating the possible therapeutic uses of CBD and have found evidence of its efficacy at improving symptoms of chronic pain, epilepsy, type 1 diabetes, and other health conditions.
Recent studies suggest that cannabidiol oil could also be an effective treatment option for arthritis and chronic pain symptoms associated with the illness. Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness in joint cartilage and bones. It is estimated to affect more than 50 million Americans with the primary symptom being chronic pain.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a chemical compound derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike THC, another type of cannabinoid, CBD does not induce any of the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. Many CBD products are extracted from a different kind of cannabis sativa plant – hemp – which is the least processed form and has less than 0.3% THC content.
By attaching to certain receptors, CBD can produce therapeutic effects in the body as it stimulates the production and use of the body’s own cannabinoids – endocannabinoids – to regulate movement, pain, appetite, inflammation, and other functions.
CBD Oil and Arthritis Pain
Preliminary research suggests that CBD may be able to relieve arthritis pain and inflammation however, the majority of these studies have been conducted on animals. In 2011, a study found that CBD significantly reduced inflammatory pain in mice and rats while in 2014, an extensive review reported CBD as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis in animals. Additional research has shown that topical application of CBD has the potential to alleviate arthritis pain and inflammation.
Although these findings are promising and human-based studies are underway, there is a lack of clinical evidence to support CBD as an effective treatment for arthritis pain in humans. However, a recent trial that has yet to be published, found CBD to be successful in treating knee osteoarthritis. As the body of research continues to grow, CBD has the potential to be a more natural alternative to commonly used prescription or over-the-counter pain medication in arthritis patients.
Using CBD Oil
There are various CBD oil products with different amounts of CBD on the market; low potencies and doses are recommended for people new to the chemical. The compound is available in oil or powder form, which is made into creams and gels that can be applied to areas affected by arthritis or capsule form, to be ingested orally.
Because CBD is not FDA-regulated, the amount of CBD in products may vary widely and caution should be advised to patients considering it as an option. Before using CBD oil, it is recommended to consult a doctor and local laws regarding the product to ensure treatment is safe and legal.
The future of CBD oil as a treatment for chronic pain management is promising and it could prove especially beneficial for arthritis patients. If ensuing studies confirm that the therapeutic effects of CBD on animals translate to humans, a new natural alternative method for pain relief may soon replace prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.