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CBD and Arthritis

Over 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis. In fact, arthritis isn’t a specific disease, but refers more generally to joint pain or joint disease. There are over 100 different conditions under the “arthritis” umbrella. Osteoarthritis is a very common form of arthritis that begins as mild joint pain and progresses into chronic pain, stiffness, and swelling. It is most common in the aging and elderly. Rheumatoid arthritis, another very common form of arthritis, is considered an autoimmune disease (see also Autoimmune Disease).

A recent review of the large number of preclinical and animal studies confirms CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects, and suggests that CBD and THC have synergistic effects for reducing inflammation.1 A 2014 review of preclinical research shows that the endocannabinoid system is an important therapeutic target for osteoarthritis pain.2 The fact that cannabinoid receptors are located all over the body, along with the physiological role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of pain, inflammation, and even joint function, are the main ways that CBD may help treat arthritis-related pain. A 2016 study using a transdermal CBD gel in arthritic mice confirmed CBD’s efficacy for pain relief and reduced inflammation.3 Another study in mice showed that oral and injected CBD helped prevent the joint damage associated with arthritis.4

One small clinical study showed that Sativex, an oral spray containing a 1:1 CBD:THC concentration, was effective in treating pain at rest, active pain, and in aiding with sleep in rheumatoid arthritis.5

  1. Sumner Burstein, “Cannabidiol (CBD) and Its Analogs: a Review of Their Effects on Inflammation,” Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry 23, no. 7 (2015): 1377–85, doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059.
  2. Carmen La Porta et al., “Involvement of the Endocannabinoid System in Osteoarthritis Pain,” European Journal of Neuroscience 39, no. 3 (2014): 485–500, doi:10.1111/ejn.12468.
  3. D. C. Hammell et al., “Transdermal Cannabidiol Reduces Inflammation and Pain-Related Behaviours in a Rat Model of Arthritis,” European Journal of Pain 20, no. 6 (2015): 936–48, doi:10.1002/ejp.818.
  4. A. M. Malfait et al., “The Nonpsychoactive Cannabis Constituent Cannabidiol Is an Oral Anti-Arthritic Therapeutic in Murine Collagen-Induced Arthritis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97, no. 17 (2000): 9561–66, doi:10.1073/pnas.160105897.
  5. D. R. Blake et al., “Preliminary Assessment of the Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety of a Cannabis-Based Medicine (Sativex) in the Treatment of Pain Caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Rheumatology 45, no. 1 (2005): 50–52, doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kei183.