1 in 5 Canadians, women more than men, have arthritis. As Canadian baby boomers age, a big concern is the rise of chronic arthritis. There’s no cure for arthritis and few treatments for this very painful, uncomfortable and unavoidable disease.
But cannabis can help.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is an umbrella term that describes hundreds of joint-related problems, including the most common forms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Arthritis is characterized by swelling and stiffness of joints, felt all the time and especially in the mornings. Arthritis is among the leading causes of disability in Canada.
Genetics may play a role in arthritis, along with obesity, joint damage, infections, and jobs requiring bending or squatting. Problems with the immune system and abnormal metabolism can also lead to arthritis.
It’s true, Tylenol, Percocet, and Vicodin, and over-the-counter drugs like Advil, Motrin, and Aleve can help to relieve pain and reduce arthritis inflammations. Current treatments include immuno-suppressant medications like Methotrexate, which are taken as daily injections. These drugs also come with side effects. For Methotrexate, side effects include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and in some cases hair loss.
Exercise can also help to ease the pain for people with arthritis, but nearly a quarter of adults diagnosed with arthritis report being physically inactive. A diet with less meat and high sugar foods might cut down on exacerbating joint flare-ups.
One alternative without the side effects is cannabis.
Liberally rubbing cannabis-infused cream into the skin causes no psychoactive effect. A 2016 study by the University of Kentucky found applying cannabidiol (CBD) gel to the skins of rodents with arthritis reduced the pain and inflammation. If you have arthritis, using cannabis-infused creams or salves are the best way to begin. Few things are as soothing as a massage, combining the infused-lotion with the doctor prescribed medicine, right where it hurts.
While studies on arthritis and cannabis look promising, more research is needed. We know that cannabis can help relieve swelling and stiffness around joints. We know that CBD is 10 times more permeable than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) when applied to our skin. Growing research suggests a little THC combined with CBD delivers even stronger pain-relief and anti-inflammation benefits. We still need to understand how exactly cannabis reduces arthritis inflammations and the molecules that actually repair the nerves.
Movement is the key. If you’re looking to arthritis relief, using cannabinoids could help you. There’s a lot of learning. If you have any questions, perhaps our Coverleaf health professionals can help.