Arthritis is a condition that is used to describe any disorder that effects joints. Most commonly causing pain, stiffness and swelling. It is approximated that 1 in 5 (21 %) of adults worldwide are diagnosed with arthritis by their physician.1 The long-term effects of arthritis being degeneration of the joints. The two most common types of arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis- this is where the protective cartilage at the end of your bones breaks down, more common in the elderly.
- Rheumatoid arthritis- which is an auto immune disease whereby the body’s immune system attacks the cells lining the joints.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the cannabis plant that does not contain any psychoactive properties (Find out more about CBD. Click Here). Recently it has been the subject of much research into its therapeutic use for diseases such as arthritis.
1. Pain relieving
CBD is known to be an effective analgesic (pain reliever) especially in the case of chronic pain such as that associated with arthritis, which is notoriously difficult to treat. 2
In a 2016 study, the efficacy of CBD in arthritis treatment was explored. CBD was applied topically to rats after arthritis induction. The data indicated that transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced spontaneous pain and joint swelling over the four days of the trial. 1 This is just one example of a range of studies that have proven CBD to be a successful analgesic.2. Anti- inflammatory
Inflammation is a key cause of the pain and mobility issues associated with arthritis and CBD is widely known to possess anti-inflammatory properties. One study published in 2004, demonstrated CBD’s anti-inflammatory affects after arthritis induction in rat paws. Swelling was seen to have majorly reduced, remarkably improving mobility in the rats. The CBD was dosed orally, additionally highlighting it’s potential as a treatment option.33. SAFE
A review in 2017 of the safety and side effects of cannabidiol, comment on its excellent safety profile stating
“Chronic and high doses of 1500 mg per day have been repeatedly shown to be well tolerated by humans” 44. May actually halt the progression of Rheumatoid arthritis!
A study focused on the oral administration of CBD found that not only did it have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects but is found to slow the progression of the disease itself. It was found that the therapeutic action of CBD included the suppression of a pro inflammatory cytokine known to be a major mediator in arthritis. Whilst most treatments focus on treating the symptoms. CBD may possibly be unique in slowing down the advancement of the disease.55. Poor current treatments/no side effects
Current therapeutic approaches mainly focus on easing the symptoms of arthritis. The therapies have modest efficacy and leave patients still in considerable pain- and have a bunch of worrisome side effects attached!
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are a main line of treatment alongside physical therapy, however, they cause problems, especially in the elderly population, with long-term use because of gastrointestinal side effects, risk of heart attack and stroke.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis can lead to liver damage, lung infection and bone marrow suppression.
How CBD actually causes this reduction in symptoms is still a matter of debate and is yet to be confirmed. The endocannabinoid system’s involvement in arthritic symptoms is currently being researched heavily. A study in 2013 found that the CB2 receptor, a member of the endocannabinoid system, is linked to pain response in osteoarthritis.6 In addition, CBD’s interaction with the TPRV1 receptor (responsible for controlling neurogenic inflammation and pain) and certain types of immune cells (known as OX42 cells) are possible mechanisms of action. 1
CBD has the potential as an effective treatment of arthritis and is a good candidate for developing improved treatments for this group of diseases that has, as of now, no definitive cure.
1 D. C. Hammell, L. P. Zhang, F. Ma, S. M. Abshire, S. L. McIlwrath, A. L. Stinchcomb and K. N. Westlund, Eur. J. Pain (United Kingdom), 2016, 20, 936–948.
2 B. Costa, A. E. Trovato, F. Comelli, G. Giagnoni and M. Colleoni, Eur. J. Pharmacol., 2007, 556, 75–83.
3 B. Costa, M. Colleoni, S. Conti, D. Parolaro, C. Franke, A. E. Trovato and G. Giagnoni, Naunyn. Schmiedebergs. Arch. Pharmacol., 2004, 369, 294–299.
4 K. Iffland and F. Grotenhermen, Cannabis Cannabinoid Res., 2017, 2, 139–154.
5 A. M. Malfait, R. Gallily, P. F. Sumariwalla, A. S. Malik, E. Andreakos, R. Mechoulam and M. Feldmann, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 2000, 97, 9561–9566.
6 J. J. Burston, D. R. Sagar, P. Shao, M. Bai, E. King, L. Brailsford, J. M. Turner, G. J. Hathway, A. J. Bennett, D. A. Walsh, D. A. Kendall, A. Lichtman and V. Chapman, PLoS One, 2013, 8.