Cannabis And Arthritis
More than 31 million Americans suffer from arthritis. There are two common types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, but both affect the joints, causing pain and swelling, and limiting movement.
The use of cannabis as a treatment for musclo-skeletal pain in western medicine dates to the 1700s. Evidence from recent research suggests that cannabis-based therapies are effective in the treatment of arthritis and the other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint and connective tissue disorders. Since these are frequently extremely painful conditions, the well-documented analgesic properties of cannabis make it useful in treating the pain associated with arthritis, both on its own and as an adjunct therapy that enhances the efficacy of opioid painkillers.
But cannabis has also been shown to have powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory properties,suggesting that it could play a role in treating arthritis, and not just in symptom management. In fact, one of the earliest records of medical use of cannabis, a Chinese text dating from ca. 2000 BC, notes that cannabis “undoes rheumatism,” suggesting its anti-inflammatory effects were known even then.
Modern research on cannabidiol (CBD), one of the non-psychoactive components of cannabis, has found that it suppresses the immune response in mice and rats that is responsible for a disease resembling arthritis, protecting them from severe damage to their joints and markedly improving their condition.
Human studies have shown cannabis to be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, one of the many recognized conditions for which many states allow legal medical use. Cannabis has a demonstrated ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation. Research has also shown that patients are able to reduce their usage of potentially harmful Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when using cannabis as an adjunct therapy.