Millions of people worldwide have Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a common autoimmune disease that causes chronic joint and muscle pain. Although CBD has shown therapeutic potential to treat many health problems, there is little research on its use for rheumatism.
Researchers held the first controlled trial to evaluate cannabis-based drugs for RA treatment in 2006. They concluded that after five weeks of use, a cannabis drug called Sativex reduced inflammation and significantly improved pain. Patients also reported improved sleep, and most of the side effects were mild.
So if you are wondering if CBD is the right supplemental treatment for your rheumatic condition, keep reading.
The 2008 review Using CBD for the Treatment of Chronic Pain, concluded in the same way that CBD reduces pain and improves sleep without any adverse side effects.
This article analyzes the scientific evidence for the uses, benefits, and side effects of CBD oil. We'll examine whether CBD oil can be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain associated with it.
In 2016, researchers evaluated CBD gels on rats in another study. Researchers have again found that CBD gel relieves joint pain and inflammation without any side effects.
Although all this research is up-and-coming, there have been relatively few existing studies. Many studies are needed, especially in a large number of human participants, to fully understand the effects of CBD oil and other cannabis drugs on the symptoms of RA.
What is Rheumatism and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune condition that can affect your joints more. In some people, RA damages a large number of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks the tissues of your body.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Different from Osteoarthritis?
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the mucous membrane of the joints, causing painful swelling that may eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity.
Although newer types of drugs have dramatically improved treatment options, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disabilities.
What Causes RA?
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovial membrane, the mucous membranes that surround the joints.
The resulting inflammation thickens the synovial membrane, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bones inside the joint.
The tendons and ligaments that hold the joints are weak and stretch. Gradually, the seal loses its shape and alignment.
Treatment Options for Rheumatism
There is no known cure for RA, but there are treatments that can help you control symptoms related to it.
Traditional RA treatments help control pain and control the inflammatory response, which in many cases, can cause remission. Reducing inflammation can also help prevent further damage to joints and organs.
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you. For many people, these treatments help lead active lives and reduce the risk of long-term complications.
The types of medication your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the duration of your rheumatoid arthritis.
- NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Non-prescription NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
Stronger NSAIDs are available on prescription. Side effects can include stomach irritation, heart problems, and kidney damage.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids such as prednisone, reduce inflammation, pain, and hinder joint damage. Side effects may include bone thinning, diabetes, and weight gain.
Doctors usually prescribe a corticosteroid to relieve acute symptoms, and the goal is to reduce treatment gradually.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): These drugs may slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and preserve joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
Side effects vary but may include bone marrow suppression, liver damage, and severe lung infections.
- Biological Agents: These include infliximab (Remicade), abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), tocilizumab (Actemra), anakinra (Kineret), baricitinib (Olumiant), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), and Golimumab (Simponi), rituximab (Rituxan), sarilumab (Kevzara) and tofacitinib (Xeljanz).
Conventional, complementary, and alternative therapies that look promising for rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Fish oil: Some preliminary studies have shown that fish oil supplements may reduce the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis.
Side effects may include nausea, belching, and a fishy taste in the mouth. Fish oil can interfere with medication and consult your doctor first.
- Plant oils: Black currant seeds contain types of fatty acids that can help relieve morning pain and numbness of rheumatoid arthritis. Side effects can include headache, diarrhea, and gas.
Some vegetable oils can damage the liver or interfere with medication. Consult your doctor first.
- Tai Chi: Motion therapy involves gentle exercises and stretches combined with deep breathing. Many people use tai chi to relieve their stress.
Little research has shown exactly how tai chi improves your mood and quality of life, but is has been around for centuries.
Tai chi, when performed under the guidance of a professional instructor, is safe, but don't make painful movements.
CBD oil is available in liquid and capsule form. You can take a mouth capsule or add CBD oil to your food or water. You can also mix CBD oil with your favorite lotion and apply it directly to your skin to help relieve stiff and sore joints.
Some brands like Mana Artisan Botanics™ also offer therapeutic creams and oils that can be applied directly to your skin.
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How CBD Can Treat Rheumatoid Symptoms
Early rheumatoid arthritis first affects the smaller joints, especially the joints that connect the toes and hands.
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Sensitive joints, warm and swollen.
- Joint stiffness that usually worsens in the morning and after inactivity.
- Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite
NOTE: In most cases, the symptoms appear in the same joints on both sides of your body.
CBD oil affects brain activity, but not in the same way as THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. CBD oil works with two endocannabinoid receptors, referred to as CB1 and CB2, to reduce pain and the effects of inflammation.
CB2 also plays a significant role in your immune system. RA involves your immune system by attacking the tissues of your joints. Thus, this relationship with the immune system could explain why CBD oil works well for RA symptoms.
CBD's anti-inflammatory effects may also help slow or stop RA's progression, mitigating irreversible joint damage in the long run. These effects can also reduce other symptoms of RA associated with inflammation, such as fatigue and fever.
What's the CBD Dosage Recommended For Treating RA?
Work with your doctor to determine the best dose for you. It is best to start with a low dose to see how your body reacts. If you do not notice any side effects, you can try slowly by increasing the dose.
Topical application of CBD oil is also possible, and many cream and lotion products are available for purchase.
Based on widespread anecdotal evidence only, the standard CBD dosage recommendation may depend on your body weight. Start with 1 to 6 mg for every 10 pounds of body weight.
We've built a calculator for you so that you can find the lowest starting dose for your body weight below:
The above dosage recommendation is general and merely a suggestion. Your case may differ in that you may need a lot more, while others may need a lot less. Please consult with your physician before supplementing your treatment with CBD.
When choosing CBD oil, make sure it comes from a trusted supplier and contains a complete list of ingredients.
CBD oil is promising as a treatment for arthritis pain. If it affects the receptors in the brain and the immune system, as the researchers think, it can reduce inflammation and pain.