Cannabis and Arthritis: A Comprehensive Guide

Arthritis is a chronic and often debilitating illness affecting many around the world today. It is characterised by inflammation and stiffness in the joints, which leads to living a life of pain, reduced mobility and quality of life. There are various forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.Those who suffer with arthritis don’t only take a physical toll, but also psychologically and emotionally, as pain changes you. 

Some individuals don’t find huge relief in pharmaceuticals and therefore the role of cannabis for those who suffer with arthritis is being explored more. In this blog we are going to take a look at the potential benefits of compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis when it comes to managing the symptoms of arthritis. 

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis is a collective term which refers to a group of inflammatory conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. There are several types of arthritis, each with distinct characteristics, let’s take a quick glance at them:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA). This is the most common type and is associated with the ageing process. The protective cartilage that cushions the end of the bones wears down over the years leading to pain, swelling, and decreased joint mobility. 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). This is autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the membranes surrounding the joints. This results in pain and inflammation, as well as joint deformities. 
  • Psoriatic Arthritis. This is linked to psoriasis, and affects individuals with the skin condition. It causes joint pain, swelling, and a higher likelihood of joint damage. 
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis. This primarily affects the spine, and leads to inflammation of the vertebrae, causing pain and stiffness in both the back and neck. 

The causes of arthritis  often involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. In autoimmune forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system’s abnormal response plays a huge role. 

The impact on daily life can be profound for those suffering with arthritis. The chronic pain and reduced mobility hinders daily activities, including simple tasks such as walking, dressing or even holding objects. This leads to decreased independence, quality of life and increased risk of mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. 

Effective pain management and symptom relief are crucial aspects of arthritis treatment. Traditional treatments used include pain medications, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. These approaches may not always provide relief for everyone and this is where alternative treatments such as cannabis come into play. The potential benefits of cannabis to provide relief and enhance the overall well-being of those living with arthritis offers a new avenue of relief. 

The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids that play a vital role in maintaining bodily homeostasis. It’s involved in regulating physiological functions such as pain sensation, mood, appetite, immune response, and more. The ECS consists of two main types of receptorsL: CB1 and CB2 receptors, found in the brain and central nervous system, immune cells and peripheral tissues. 

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis plants, and they interact with the ECS receptors in the body. Two of the most well-known cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These mimic the effects of endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced in the body. When introduced into the body, CBD and THC can influence the ECS receptor activity and impact various bodily functions. 

CBD is known for its potential pain relieving properties and is believed to interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, indirectly influencing the body’s perception of pain. CBD also holds anti-inflammatory effects and could help mitigate pain caused by inflammation in arthritis. 

THC primarily binds to the CB1 receptors, which are found in the brain and central nervous system. Its psychoactive effects are attributed to this interaction. THC may affect immune cells and their responses, leading to a reduction in inflammatory processes. The psychoactive nature of THC can also influence pain perception and emotional response, providing a more complex interplay between pain relief and mental health. 

Both CBD and THC offer potential benefits for pain relief and inflammation reduction, varying based on factors such as dosage, individual physiology, and the presence of other compounds in the cannabis plant. There are many cannabis products on the market today offering relief for pain and inflammation including oils, balms, and edibles. As research continues, a deeper understanding of these interactions could pave way for more targeted and effective treatments for arthritis and related conditions. 

Cannabis Compounds for Arthritis

The compounds CBD and THC found in cannabis prove potential benefits in the relief of arthritis symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at how they can be of benefit to those living with arthritis:

CBD has shown the following benefits: 

  • pain relief;
  • anti-inflammatory effects;
  • reduced anxiety;
  • and improved sleep.

THC has proven to help with:

  • analgesic effects;
  • anti-inflammatory effects;
  • muscle relaxation;
  • and Mood enhancement.

Various compounds inside the cannabis plant as well as aromatic compounds called terpenes work together to produce more profound effects than the individual compounds alone, called the entourage effect. For arthritis, this means that the combination of the multiple cannabinoids and terpenes found in a particular strain or product may produce more pain relief and anti-inflammatory potential. 

Terpenes, which give cannabis its distinct aroma and flavour, also contribute to the entourage effect. Some terpenes, such as myrcene (found in Cannacopia’s CBD Pain & Inflammation Oil) and beta-caryophyllene (found in Cannacopia’s CBD Icy Hot Gel), have shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. When combined with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, they have been known to enhance the overall therapeutic effects of cannabis for arthritis. 

Choosing the Right Cannabis Products

Cannabis comes in a variety of product types, each offering a unique way to interact with the bodies’ endocannabinoid system. Some common types include oils and tinctures, edibles, topicals, vape products, and capsules. 

When selecting cannabis products for arthritis management, several factors should be considered: 

  • CBD-to-THC ratio. Higher CBD ratios are often more favoured for daytime use, whereas higher THC ratios may be more suitable for evening use when deeper pain relief is required. 
  • Potency. Consider the potency, especially if you are new to cannabis. Starting with lower potency options allow for better control over the experience. 
  • Consumption Method. Different consumption methods have different onset times and durations. Inhalation methods have quicker effects, whereas edibles and tinctures take slightly longer to provide extended relief. 
  • Individual Sensitivity. Each person’s response to cannabis is unique, factors such as metabolism, body weight, and tolerance influences how the body reacts. It is better to start with a more conservative dose to gauge your personal sensitivity. 

It is important to keep in mind that everyone responds differently, and it is therefore important to find the right dose for symptom relief and achieve the desired therapeutic effects without uncomfortable side effects. As you become more comfortable with cannabis, you can gradually increase the dose to find your optimal balance between the symptom relief and side effects. Remember to consult with your healthcare professional who is experienced in cannabis and can provide you with personalised recommendations for your own specific needs. 

Final Words

This comprehensive guide has shed some light on the potential benefits of using cannabis for arthritis relief. We have explored how CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system, and offer relief for pain and inflammation management in arthritis. We have also seen that the entourage effect is important for considering the synergy between the various compounds. 

Cannabis holds a promising solution to arthritis management and as research continues to unfold, the potential for cannabis to enhance the lives of those living with arthritis becomes even more compelling. Head over to Cannacopia’s website now to see the range of products that could potentially provide relief if you or a loved one is living with arthritis. 

The Writer's Cabin
The Writer's Cabin
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