Cannabis for Arthritis — Does it Work in Place of Pain Killers?
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disabilities worldwide. As the disease progresses, it will also begin to affect the patient’s emotional and mental wellbeing. While conventional medications can control disease progression, sometimes, these are not enough. These drugs also cause unwanted side effects like gastrointestinal problems and liver damage. The legalization of medical cannabis for arthritis though has given patients hope. Numerous studies have found that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for arthritis.
Arthritis in a Nutshell
According to the ACREU Report of 2017, arthritis affects more than six million Canadians. Of these numbers, about 24,000 of them are children. By 2035, these numbers are expected to rise by about 40%.
There are several types of arthritis although they have common, prevalent symptoms. These include painful joints, swollen and inflamed joints, joint tenderness, and joint stiffness. There may also be joint warmness upon palpation. As the disease worsens, limitation of joint motions and joint deformities also begin to develop.
NSAIDs and painkillers are typically prescribed to control the symptoms. If autoimmune problems are responsible for arthritis, DMARDs or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, as well as corticosteroids, are prescribed. Unfortunately, long-term use of these drugs also contributes to gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, and even blood problems.
These reasons are why an increasing number of patients are switching to cannabis for arthritis symptom control.
But how does cannabis for arthritis work?
Cannabis for Arthritis — How Does It Control the Symptoms?
Cannabis has the ability to control arthritis. It can effectively relieve treatment-resistant pain and reduce chronic inflammation. By controlling these symptoms, the patient can enjoy a better quality of life.
The cannabinoids found in cannabis has potent painkilling effects. THC directly acts on the brain’s pain centers to reduce pain perception. CBD also stimulates other receptors like TRPV-1 and serotonin receptors to control pain. These receptors are responsible for pain modulation. When activated, they control pain response.
Our body also produces its own cannabis-like compound called endocannabinoids. These are usually released when there’s a stimulus. These stimuli activate the endocannabinoid system to produce its analgesic effects. Unfortunately, our endocannabinoids are quickly broken down by enzymes, so their effects are typically short-lived. According to one study, THC and CBD help improve their levels by preventing their degradation.
One study also showed that both THC and CBD have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers found that they prompt the death of the abnormal immune cells which contribute to chronic inflammation.
Cannabis for Arthritis – Is It Really Safe and Effective?
A study on cannabis for arthritis showed that it is a safe and effective treatment for this chronic, painful joint condition. The study involved 58 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were divided into two groups: one who received cannabis-based treatment and a control group. Those who received cannabis-based medicine reported significant improvement in their arthritic symptoms. They also tolerated the treatment regimen very well with no significant adverse side effects.
More studies are needed on cannabis for arthritis. However, numerous studies have already proven its effectiveness in controlling pain and inflammation, which are the hallmark symptoms of arthritis.