Find out more about complementary medicines and the top five that people contact us about. Can CBD oil be used to help with arthritis symptoms? What's the best CBD oil for arthritis? We'll cover all you need to know about using CBD oil here! You may be wondering if marijuana may ease the pain and discomfort from rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s what to know.
Complementary treatments and arthritis – from turmeric to cannabis oil
People use complementary medicine for many different reasons, including:
- wanting to use more natural treatments
- their symptoms aren’t fully controlled by conventional medicine.
Read more about complementary therapies which can help to ease the symptoms of arthritis, from yoga to meditation.
Are they right for me?
As with all complementary treatments, different things work for different people and it isn’t possible to predict which might be the most useful or effective.
There are some key points to consider if you’re thinking about using any complementary treatments.
- What are you hoping to achieve? Pain relief? More energy? Better sleep? Reduction in medication?
- What are the financial costs?
- Is there any evidence for their effectiveness?
Are complementary medicines safe?
Complementary medicines are relatively safe, although you should always talk to your doctor before you start any new treatment.
In specific cases they may not be recommended, for example, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or they may interact with certain medication.
A starter for five
Here we share a spotlight on the most popular complementary medicines that people call our helpline about.
It’s thought that turmeric can possibly reduce inflammation, which could help people with arthritis.
People with knee osteoarthritis who took part in a research trial reported improvements to their pain levels after taking turmeric. The evidence is limited however, as it is from just one trial. What evidence there is suggested that people only had minor side-effects after taking turmeric.
Turmeric can be bought from health food shops, pharmacies and supermarkets in the form of powder.
Glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride are nutritional supplements. Animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of and repair damaged cartilage.
The results for the use of glucosamine for osteoarthritis are mixed and the size of the effect is modest. There’s some evidence that more recent trials and those using higher-quality methods are less likely to show a benefit.
Capsaicin is taken from chilli peppers. It works mainly by reducing Substance P, a pain transmitter in your nerves. Results from randomised controlled trials assessing its role in treating osteoarthritis suggest that it can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints, and it has no major safety problems. Evidence for its effectiveness for fibromyalgia is related to a single trial.
Other names: Axsain®, Zacin®, chilli, pepper gel, cayenne
Capsaicin is licensed in the UK for osteoarthritis and you can get it on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters.
There are no major safety concerns in applying capsaicin gel/cream. A review of capsaicin applied to the skin to treat chronic pain (not specifically related to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia) concluded that around one third of people experience a reaction around the area where the treatment is applied. It’s important to keep capsaicin away from your eyes, mouth and open wounds because it will cause irritation. There have been no reported drug interactions.
Fish oils are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Fish liver oil is also a rich source of vitamin A (a strong antioxidant) and vitamin D (which is important for maintaining healthy joints).
Evidence suggests that fish body oil can improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Unconfirmed evidence also suggests a combination of fish body and liver oils might also be useful in the long term, particularly in reducing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There isn’t enough evidence for the use of fish liver oil for osteoarthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood, so they can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with inflammatory arthritis.
In the UK, dietary guidelines recommend eating two portions of fish a week, including one oily. Fish oil is considered to be well tolerated at this dose.
At the correct doses, side-effects are usually minor and uncommon.
Cannabis oil (CBD)
CBD is type of cannabinoid – a natural substance extracted from the cannabis plant and often mixed with an oil (such as coconut or hemp) to create CBD oil. It does not contain the psychoactive compound called tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) which is associated with the feeling of being ‘high’.
Research in cannabinoids over the years suggests that they can be effective in treating certain types of chronic pain such as pain from nerve injury, but there is currently not enough evidence to support using cannabinoids in reducing musculoskeletal pain. We welcome further research to better understand its impact and are intently following developments internationally.
CBD oil can be legally bought as a food supplement in the UK from heath food shops and some pharmacies. However, CBD products are not licensed as a medicine for use in arthritis by MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority) or approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) or the SMC (Scottish Medicines consortium).
We know anecdotally from some people with arthritis, that CBD has reduced their symptoms. If you’re considering using CBD to manage the pain of your arthritis, it’s important to remember it cannot replace your current medicines, and it may interact with them, so please do not stop/start taking anything without speaking to a healthcare professional.
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Best CBD Oils for Arthritis and Joint Pain Reviewed of 2022
As many as 54 million Americans are diagnosed with arthritis every year. According to NHIS data, it’s the leading cause of work disability leave in the United States.
Arthritis can be a real pain — literally and figuratively. The disorder often brings a lowered quality of life for those affected, forces people to take time off work, and makes it difficult to exercise and remain in good shape. Many people are therefore looking for an effective form of pain management to help with the disorder.
One of the most popular arthritis-supportive supplements being used today is cannabidiol (CBD) — one of the primary active ingredients in the cannabis plant.
Can CBD really help with arthritis? What’s the best CBD oil for arthritis?
We’ll explore these questions in detail in the article below. I’ll give you my top 5 CBD oils for arthritis pain, and give you some valuable insight into how to choose the best CBD oils for the job on your own.
This is a big topic so let’s dig in.
Best CBD Oils for Arthritis: Our Top 6 Brands of 2022
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably interested in finding a CBD product that can help you with your arthritis symptoms.
For those of you who want to understand how CBD works for arthritis, and what else you can do to make the effects of CBD even better, keep reading the sections below. If you’re simply looking for the best CBD oil to take, here’s a list of my top five CBD oils — including a breakdown of why I think it’s such a strong option.
Let’s dig into the list.
1. Royal CBD (Most Potent)
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
|Total CBD Content||1000 – 2500 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Peppermint, Vanilla, Berry|
|Potency||16.66 – 83.3 mg/mL|
What We Like About Royal CBD Oil:
A newcomer to the scene, Royal CBD is a premium manufacturer opting for high-grade organic ingredients in all its CBD products — including this full-spectrum hemp oil. The company’s product range is pretty simple, featuring only CBD oil, capsules, gummies, and some CBD-infused topicals.
The oil and capsules are full-spectrum extracts, while the gummies are made with a 99% pure CBD isolate. This oil has a few different options — you can choose between flavors like mint, berry, vanilla, or unflavored, and three separate potencies — 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 2500 mg of CBD per 30 milliliters (1 ounce) bottle. The strongest option carries 83.3mg of CBD in each milliliter.
For the best value, I recommend you aim for the higher potency option. This product has a higher initial cost than the others, but comes at a slight discount and will last a very long time — even if you use CBD on a daily basis. Only a few drops are needed to get a healthy dose of CBD.
If you don’t like the taste of natural CBD oil you can get their capsules instead. These come in an easy-to-swallow soft gel form and contain 25 mg per capsule.
All Royal CBD products are tested in third-party laboratories to ensure each batch is clean, has consistent levels of CBD, and is free from any potential contaminants.
- Made with organic Colorado-grown hemp
- All products are made with supercritical CO2 extraction
- You can buy both full-spectrum and CBD isolate products
- The highest potency bottle delivers 83.3 mg/mL
- Every batch of product has been tested by a third-party laboratories
- These products are priced on the higher end, although well justified
2. Gold Bee (Best Organic Formula)
|Total CBD Content||1200 – 2400 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Lychee, Kiwi|
|Potency||40 – 80 mg/mL|
What We Like About Gold Bee Oil:
When it comes to arthritis, the quality of ingredients is paramount, as any pro-inflammatory compound can actually worsen your symptoms. With Gold Bee, this isn’t a problem, as the brand sells all-organic CBD oils formulated with full-spectrum hemp extracts. The hemp used by the company comes from organic farms in Colorado and is gently extracted with supercritical CO2 to provide the highest purity and consistent potency.
The full-spectrum of cannabinoids means you’re getting the synergistic effects from all naturally-occurring compounds in hemp, including the supportive cannabinoids and terpenes. As a result, you need less CBD to achieve the desired results than you would with CBD isolate. The Gold Bee CBD oil packs 1200 mg of CBD in a 30-mL bottle, translating into 40 mg of CBD daily. The dosage fits within the most common range for daily use.
Gold Bee also doesn’t use artificial flavorings and sweeteners in its products. The kiwi version of the CBD oil is infused with natural terpenes and sweetened with organic honey from Brazillian rainforests. The entire Gold Bee product line is rigorously tested in third-party laboratories for potency and purity.
|Total CBD Content||100 – 600 mg|
|Potency||1.6 – 10 mg/mL|
What We Like About CBDPure Hemp Oil:
CBDPure was founded in 2016 by cannabis aficionados from Colorado. The company has a simple mission — to make high-quality CBD oils made from organic hemp.
Although the company only sells CBD oil and capsules, it’s perfected both of these products. These extracts are made with supercritical CO2 and tested in third-party laboratories for quality assurance.
When it comes to CBDPure hemp oil, it isn’t as potent as those offered by Royal CBD — so if you’re looking for something high potency CBDPure may not be the best option available. However, if you want something cheap that maintains a high level of quality — CBDPure is an excellent choice.
CBDPure has an incredible return policy — which suggests the founders truly stand by their products. If you don’t like the product you can return it for 100% money back within 90 days. Most other CBD companies only offer this deal for 14 or 30 days, so this says a lot about the integrity of CBDPure as a company.
- CBDPure products are sourced from organic hemp grown in Colorado
- The company uses supercritical CO2 to make its extracts
- 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed program (full refund within 90 days)
- Narrow product range
- The oil is slightly less potent than Royal CBD
4. Hemp Bombs
|Total CBD Content||300 – 5000 mg|
|Available Flavors||Unflavored, Acai Berry, Orange Creamsicle, Peppermint, Watermelon|
|Potency||10 – 1166.6 mg/mL|
What We Like About Hemp Bombs:
Hemp Bombs are one of the longest-standing companies in the CBD space. They’ve been around for years now, dating back before the CBD boom. As a result, the company has had a chance to become well-established in the industry, and have a loyal customer base as a result.
Although the branding makes these oils resemble a gas station brand of an energy drink — the oil contained inside is nothing to scoff at.
Hemp Bombs is able to use its large presence in the industry to source some of the best hemps in the country. They process all the hemp within the United States in GMP-certified labs. The company chose to use a CBD isolate for this oil rather than a full-spectrum extract. Using CBD isolate is cheaper and more accurate than full-spectrum products, but lacks the synergistic benefits of the entire cannabinoid and terpene profile — a concept referred to as the entourage effects.
The real benefit of using a CBD isolate is that this is the only way to guarantee the product contains no THC — which is the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for producing the high from marijuana plants.
Hemp Bombs, like the others on this list, conducts extensive third-party testing on every batch of hemp extract that comes out of its facilities. This is the only way to ensure complete transparency and build trust with consumers. Hemp Bombs publishes these test results on the website for anybody to see — and includes the entire gamut of testing (heavy metals, cannabinoid profile, residual solvents, and microbial contaminant testing).
- Made from high-grade CBD distillate
- Comes in all different flavors and potencies
- Third-party tested for transparency
- Lacks the benefits of the entourage effect
- Flavored with synthetic flavoring agents
5. Nuleaf Naturals
|Total CBD Content||240 – 4850 mg|
What I Like About Nuleaf Naturals:
Nuleaf Naturals has the simplest product lineup I’ve ever seen. The company only offers one oil — a 48 mg/mL full-spectrum hemp extract. They use this same oil for every product offering.
When you go to the company website, you’ll find you can buy this oil in all different bottle sizes — but the oil itself is exactly the same. Even the pet oil options the company sells use this exact same extract.
The benefit of using just one oil is that Nuleaf Naturals can put all their attention and energy into this one product — doing everything they can to make it as top-notch as possible. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
This oil is one of the best tastings and has some incredibly powerful effects compared to many of the other oils I’ve tried.
In order to even qualify for my top 5 list, the company has to offer third-party testing. I can’t trust the test results from a company doing their own testing. Nuleaf Naturals remains up to date with ordering third-party tests for every batch produced by the company. You’ll find a new test uploaded to the company website every two or three months as they release new batches of products. I have a look at these tests every time I order a bottle and have yet to find anything that stands out.
Every test I’ve seen from Nuleaf Naturals proves the oil is free from contaminants like heavy metals or pesticides, and the potency is almost always exactly the advertised potency. Occasionally a batch will come out that’s 2-5% off the advertised amount — which is expected for full-spectrum extracts.
- Simple product lineup
- Offers oils for both humans and pets
- CBD oil comes in all different bottle sizes to support any budget
- No flavor options available
- All products use the same hemp oil
|Total CBD Content||1000 – 2000 mg|
|Potency||33.3 – 66.6 mg/mL|
What I Like About Medterra:
This is a new product offered by the CBD giant Medterra. This company specializes in making broad-spectrum hemp extracts. This means the oil contains CBD, and most of the other supplemental cannabinoids like CBC, CBG, CBN, and THCV — but all traces of the psychoactive THC have been removed.
Medterra is intimately involved in the cultivation process for the hemp they use to make this oil — which allows the company to control the amount of pesticide used, and the timing of the harvest. These factors play a big role in the overall quality of the oil. Most other CBD companies buy hemp from farms located around the United States or Canada and have little control over the growing process.
Like any high-end CBD oil, this product has been thoroughly tested by both Medterras analysis lab, and independent laboratories.
Medterra sells a lot more than just CBD oils — you can also buy topicals, capsules, and pet treats.
- Medterra has complete control of the entire manufacturing process from seed to bottle
- Extensive third-party testing
- Broad-spectrum THC-free hemp oil
- Limited bottle sizes and flavor options
- This oil is heavily processed
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the United States. Millions of people in the United States alone suffer from debilitating joint pain and inflammation from arthritis.
The disease causes severe inflammation and pain, as well as swelling and loss of function in the joints.
There are two main types of arthritis:
- Rheumatoid arthritis — This form of arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the cause of inflammation is triggered by our own immune systems. White blood cells mistakenly attack and destroy our own joint tissue, causing a cascade of inflammatory processes in the joints — causing them to swell up and feel hot and sore. This form of arthritis can affect any joint but tends to focus on the larger joints such as the knee, hips, elbows, and knuckles.
- Osteoarthritis — This form of arthritis is caused by physical trauma and wear and tear rather than the immune system. This form of arthritis is common in athletes and older people. The condition begins with a low-grade inflammation in the joint itself, which causes the degeneration of protective cartilage and synovial fluid (lubrication for the joints). As the joint tissue becomes damaged, inflammation and pain worsen and reduce the mobility of the joint. This condition is degenerative — which means it tends to worsen over time.
All forms of arthritis have the same basic symptoms — pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility of one or more joints. Despite having radically different underlying causes, CBD has become extremely popular among arthritis sufferers in recent years.
CBD Oil & Arthritis: Can it Help?
Let’s explore how CBD works, and why it’s become so popular among arthritis patients.
CBD is one of the active ingredients in hemp plants (Cannabis sativa). This phytochemical is completely non-psychoactive, which means it won’t cause the user to feel high. A related cannabinoid (THC) not found in high amounts in hemp plants is what causes marijuana users to feel high.
When CBD enters your bloodstream, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system — a complex neurochemical network responsible for maintaining various homeostatic functions in the body. This includes pain perception, immune response, temperature control, memory, mood, hunger, fertility, inflammation, and much more.
While research on CBD and arthritis is in the early stage, current evidence coming from animal studies and several human trials suggests it may alleviate the symptoms of arthritis while resulting in virtually no side effects.
Animal Studies on CBD & Arthritis
- A 2011 study discovered that CBD was able to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by changing the way pain receptors react to stimuli.
- A 2014 review of the existing animal-based studies concluded that CBD may be effective for relieving osteoarthritis.
- In a 2016 study, researchers found that CBD may relieve inflammation linked to arthritis in problematic areas when applied topically.
- A 2017 research paper suggested that CBD was a safe and effective treatment option for osteoarthritis joint pain.
The big question is whether these results can be replicated in actual human trials. Interestingly, this seems to be the case!
Clinical Trials on CBD & Arthritis
- In 2006, the first study on cannabinoids and rheumatoid arthritis concluded that a pharmaceutical CBD-enriched cannabis extract called Sativex had a “significant analgesic effect” in arthritis patients. Researchers reported that pain and inflammation were significantly reduced throughout the treatment despite having almost no reported side effects.
- A 2008 study involving cannabinoids in the management of chronic pain discovered that CBD offered effective pain relief and improved sleep quality in the test group.
- A 2016 analysis of human trials for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia also found that CBD resulted in a reduction in joint pain and improvement in irregular sleep patterns caused by chronic pain.
CBD Oil For Sale: Where To Find High-Grade CBD Oil
Most people look for CBD oils online — myself included. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible to find high-quality CBD oil in a local dispensary, but I’ve found online to offer a greater range of products, and quite frankly, better prices.
I recommend you check out the company websites listed in the section at the top of this article, or do your own research using the tips listed in the section below to find other reputable CBD brands online. Read reviews, and look for third-party testing before you buy the product to make sure it’s going to deliver on its promises.
Must-Know Details for People Buying CBD Oil for Arthritis
Knowing what to look for in the best CBD oil for arthritis will save you a lot of hassle — there are a lot of fly-by-night companies currently offering CBD oils with questionable quality, to say the least.
CBD is an emerging market, so it’s no wonder many companies want to capitalize on the booming trend before the dust settles and the industry stabilizes.
With such an abundance of different brands selling CBD in various forms, it’s important to find a trusted manufacturer who will ensure high standards for their products.
Here’s what you should pay attention to when shopping for CBD oil to help with your arthritis symptoms.
1. Hemp Source: Where is the Hemp Sourced?
Hemp plants are unique in that they will absorb and accumulate virtually any and all elements in the soil and air in which it’s grown — this includes both the good stuff and the bad stuff.
Plants grown in contaminated soils will often contain harmful levels of heavy metals like cadmium, lead, or mercury. For this reason, it’s important you look for products that have been grown in regions with little contamination — such as America or Canada.
Some companies source cheap hemp from India or China to cut costs — which are notoriously high in toxic heavy metal contaminants.
I prefer oils made from American-grown hemp because of the high standards here that prevent farmers from growing food or supplementing crops in contaminated soils or polluted air.
The best hemp comes from USDA-certified organic farms — but these are hard to come by at the moment.
2. Extraction Method: Did The Company Use Toxic Solvents to Make the Oil?
Most reputable companies use CO2 for making their CBD oil. Pressurized CO2 works as a solvent that pulls CBD and other compounds from the plant material. When the pressure is released, the CO2 evaporates completely, leaving no trace of harmful chemical solvents in the final product.
This is in opposition to the conventional extraction methods — which use toxic solvents to strip the cannabinoids from the plant material such as hexane, propane, butane, or ether. If these solvents are used they need to be evaporated out. Oftentimes, small amounts of these chemicals will remain in the final product which can cause many unwanted side effects to people using the oil.
3. Cannabinoid Spectrum: Could There be any THC in the Final Product?
The next thing to look at is the cannabinoid profile of the oil. This refers to the amount of CBD and other cannabinoids in the final product.
There are three main categories here:
- Full-spectrum extracts — these oils contain many different cannabinoids aside from just CBD
- Broad-spectrum extracts — these oils contain many cannabinoids with the exception of THC
- CBD isolates — these oils contain only one cannabinoid — CBD
Many experts argue that full-spectrum CBD oil is better for arthritis-related inflammation. A 2016 Israeli study found that unlike pure CBD isolate, full-spectrum extracts offered more reliable benefits for arthritis sufferers. However, there are benefits to using broad-spectrum or isolate-based products as well.
4. Route of Administration: How is the Oil Intended to be Used?
CBD comes in a few different forms and can be used in several different ways:
- Sublingual — placed under the tongue for fast absorption
- Edibles — helps mask the flavor of hemp oil bit has a slower onset of effects
- Vape liquids — used in vape pens to inhale the CBD for absorption via the lungs
- Topicals — applied directly to the skin for localized relief
Generally, the best CBD products for arthritis are going to be a combination of topical CBD and oral CBD. I rub CBD-infused joint cream on the affected area first and then use CBD oil sublingually for the fastest onset of effects. I know a few other people that prefer to use a CBD-infused vape pen and CBD topicals to relieve arthritis.
5. Third-Party Testing: Does the Company Provide Transparency for its Claims?
Every company has the option to send a batch of their product to a third-party laboratory for content analysis. In order to be considered a third-party lab, it needs to have no affiliation with the manufacturer — allowing for a completely unbiased assessment of the products in question.
These laboratories measure the potency of CBD, scan the entire cannabinoid profile of the product, and can detect over 200 common contaminants.
This form of testing offers transparency on the quality and potency of the product. If you can’t find third-party testing to confirm the CBD oil you’re looking at contains exactly what the company says it does — I recommend you look elsewhere until you find a company that publishes this data publicly. It’s the only way to ensure the product you’re buying is going to be safe and effective.
What’s the Ideal CBD Dosage for Arthritis?
There is actually no one-size-fits-all dosage of cannabidiol when it comes to inflammatory pain caused by arthritis. The dose will vary a lot from one person to the next.
However, information gathered from CBD users suggests that most arthritis sufferers take around 25 mg of CBD in the form of an oil twice a day. You may need to increase or decrease this dose depending on how you respond to the oil. Most people shouldn’t expect any improvement in the first couple of days.
If you don’t feel any difference, gradually increase the amount of CBD oil until you find an effective dose.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil for Arthritis
So far, research investigating the benefits of CBD oil for arthritis shows promising results. More research is needed to fully understand the role CBD and other cannabinoids play in alleviating arthritis-related pain and inflammation.
Although a large share of the studies currently available come from animal models. There are only a handful of good-quality clinical trials (double-blind and randomized). Of the few we have available in the scientific literature, all have shown notably positive results from the treatment group using CBD rather than placebo.
With all that said, it’s important to remember that CBD isn’t an overnight fix to all your problems, and in more serious cases, it may need some time to make the impact you’re looking for.
If you’re planning to use CBD oil for arthritis, consult your doctor first to discuss any potential interactions with other underlying health conditions or medications you may be taking.
Have you used CBD oil for arthritis symptoms? Post your results in the comment section below!
- Schuelert, N. & Mcdougall, J.J. (2011). the Abnormal Cannabidiol Analogue O-1602 Reduces Nociception in a Rat Model of Acute Arthritis Via the Putative Cannabinoid Receptor Gpr55., Neuroscience Letters, 500(1), 72–76.
- La Porta, C., Bura, S.A., Negrete, R., Maldonado, R. (2014). Involvement of the Endocannabinoid System in Osteoarthritis Pain. The European Journal of Neuroscience, 39(3), 485–500.
- Philippot, H.T., O’Brien, M., McDougall, J.J. (2017). Attenuation of Early Phase Inflammation By Cannabidiol Prevents Pain and Nerve Damage in Rat Osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451.
- Blake, D.R., Robson, P., Ho, M., Jubb, R.W., McCabe, C.S. (2006) Preliminary Assessment of the Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety of a Cannabis-based Medicine (Sativex) in the Treatment of Pain Caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford), 45(1), 50–52.
- Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the Management of Difficult to Treat Pain. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 4(1), 245–259.
- Fitzcharles, M.A., Baerwald, C., Ablin, J., Hauser, W. (2016). Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety of Cannabinoids in Chronic Pain Associated With Rheumatic Diseases (fibromyalgia Syndrome, Back Pain, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis): a Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Schmerz (Berlin, Germany), 30(1), 47–61.
- Gallily, R., Yekhtin, Z., Lumir, O.H. (2015). Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 6, 75–85.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Medical Marijuana, CBD Oil, and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Researchers still don’t know a lot about how marijuana affects your body. But there is substantial evidence that it can help relieve long-term pain. And pain is a major symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Here’s what’s known so far about how medical marijuana and a marijuana extract called CBD (cannabidiol) might affect RA.
Benefits for RA
The Cannabis sativa plant has more than 100 chemicals that can affect your body and mind. The two that scientists know the most about are THC and CBD.
THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is what gets you high when you smoke, vape, or eat marijuana. CBD doesn’t affect your brain that way. For that reason, some people prefer CBD for medical uses.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can make your joints stiff, tender, and painful. RA also can affect your lungs, eyes, skin, and other body parts.
The federal ban on marijuana and CBD means studies on humans have been few. So researchers don’t know for sure that cannabis eases RA symptoms. But the results from several very small studies suggest that in people with rheumatic diseases, including RA and osteoarthritis, it may help:
- Curb morning pain (but not the overall level of pain)
- Improve sleep
- Lower inflammation in joints (but not joint stiffness)
Some lab testing suggests that cannabinoids may help tamp down the body’s immune response. But the studies have been limited to animals, not humans.
Doctors will need more proof before they can recommend cannabis products to treat rheumatic diseases. For example, we know very little about the effects on RA from smoking marijuana or other uses of herbal marijuana.
Is Cannabis Right for You?
The best way to answer this is to ask your doctor. They can tell you about possible side effects and drug interactions, legal considerations, and which form and at which dose may help you the most.
More than half of the states have legalized marijuana for medical use. More than a dozen other states allow limited medical uses of CBD.
The FDA doesn’t regulate marijuana or CBD, so you might not know exactly what’s in the products you buy. One batch of pot or edible marijuana may have a much higher or lower amount of THC than another, or affect you differently. CBD also can be unpredictable.
Cannabis can affect you mentally and physically. THC can impair driving, so you shouldn’t get behind the wheel for at least 8 hours after you take it. Smoking or vaping (inhaling) marijuana will hit you more quickly than if you eat it. It’s also not good for your lungs or respiratory system.
If you use marijuana regularly, it could make you more likely to get anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
CBD side effects are usually mild or moderate. They can include:
Medical marijuana has similar side effects, that may include:
Where to Get It
Depending on your state, you may need to buy medical marijuana and CBD at specific dispensaries or pharmacies from approved vendors. Your doctor may need to certify that you have a condition that may benefit from marijuana.
Marijuana is available in many forms, like pills, prepared foods, teas, nasal sprays, and as something you smoke or vape.
In some states, CBD is sold at many all-natural food stores and online. It can be taken by mouth as oil or extracts, or applied to your skin.
Chemistry & Biochemistry: “History of Cannabis and Its Preparations in Saga, Science, and Sobriquet.”
Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Treatment with medical cannabis,” “Marijuana,” “What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?” “Rheumatoid arthritis.”
News release, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.”
Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience: “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Health.”
Arthritis Care & Research: “Efficacy, Tolerability, and Safety of Cannabinoid Treatments in the Rheumatic Diseases: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.”
Nature Reviews Rheumatology: “Cannabinoids for the treatment of rheumatic diseases — where do we stand?”
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: “Drug Scheduling.”
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review.”
Journal of Medical Toxicology: “Medical Marijuana and Driving: A Review.”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Marijuana and Cannabinoids.”