Arthritis most commonly refers to joint inflammation, however the term describes around 200 rheumatic conditions that affect joints and the tissues that surround the joints. According to the Arthritis Society, arthritis is one of Canada’s most chronic health conditions – one which has no cure. 1 in every 5 Canadians – approximately 20% of the population – currently suffers from arthritis. While arthritis affects people of all ages, including children, the likelihood of experiencing arthritis increases with age. The conditions associated with arthritis are most common among adults aged 65 years or older.
Since 2001, medical cannabis has been a legal treatment option in Canada for certain health conditions, including arthritis. Approximately two thirds of Canadians who use medical cannabis do so for the treatment of arthritis symptoms. It’s important to note that in Canada, the supply of medical cannabis is controlled by the federal government. This means that the licensed sellers who manufacture and distribute medical cannabis products are controlled under strict regulations.
Recent studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) could play a vital role in the treatment of arthritis-related symptoms. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors in a person’s brain and immune system. When CBD enters a person’s body, it attaches to CB2 receptors, which are found in the immune system. This allows them to regulate the body’s response to pain and inflammation.
Recent animal studies suggest that CBD could help to treat arthritis and relieve the inflammatory pain that is often associated with it:
- A 2011 study found that CBD assisted in reducing inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way their pain receptors responded to stimuli.
- A 2014 review of current research on animals concluded that CBD has generally been found to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
- A 2016 study found that the topical application of CBD-infused products assisted in relieving pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
- A 2017 study found that CBD could be used as a safe and useful treatment for joint pain related to osteoarthritis.
While these studies show promising research into the effects of CBD on arthritis and its related symptoms, there is currently a lack of clinical evidence to prove conclusively that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment for humans. Animal studies have suggested that CBD has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, but these effects need to be further validated in human studies.
To address this knowledge gap, the Arthritis Society is currently funding research into the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of arthritis symptoms. However, while clinical evidence is minimal, the majority of patients who use medical cannabis do so for the treatment for arthritis. Many of these patients have asserted the positive effects of CBD oil on the pain and inflammation associated with their arthritis, making it an even more popular alternative to traditional medicine.