Can Cannabis Help Repair Arthritis in Joints?

Chronic arthritis is an ailment that affects 52.5 million adults today, and that number is expected to increase to 67 million by 2030. In addition, there’s no cure for arthritis, and limited treatment options exist for the painful and debilitating disease. However, one alternative that is gaining popularity among the aging population is the use of cannabis.

Cannabis helps to provide full-bodied pain relief and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Although arthritis is considered a qualifying condition in at least two states, there’s a remarkable lack of data. In addition, the lack of research on the effectiveness of cannabis as an alternative treatment for arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

arthritis is being helped by cannabis
Osteoarthritis often results in bone rubbing on bone. Bone spurs are a common feature of this form of arthritis. via OrthoInfo

Arthritis causes inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age.

In addition, it can lead to:

  • Injuries not healing properly
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathies (tingling or numbness in extremities)
  • Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the forefoot)
  • Persistent joint pain
  • Locked joints
  • Morning stiffness

Studies were conducted

A study was published in the Journal Rheumatology from Dr. Sheng-Ming Dai of China’s Second Military Medical University. It found that CB2 receptors are found in unusually high levels in the joint tissue of arthritis patients. The use of cannabis is shown to fight inflammation in the joints by activating the pathways of CB2 receptors.

A Canadian researcher Dr. Jason McDougall, is a professor of pharmacology and anesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He has undertaken a new study to find out if medical marijuana can help repair arthritic joints and relieve pain. Also, the study was supported by the Arthritis Society. In addition, it was awarded a grant for a comprehensive, three-year study to investigate if cannabis was beneficial. The study looked to see if it was dampening the feeling of pain in the brain or working to fight inflammation and repair the joint itself.

When asked to describe the nerves of an arthritis sufferer, McDougall told CBC Radio’s Information Morning the following information:

“The nerves are like wires that have been stripped of their coating. They’re all bare, they’re all raw and responsible for feeling a lot of pain. What we hypothesize is that by locally administering these cannabis-like molecules to those nerves, we’d actually be able to repair them and reduce the pain of arthritis.”

First of all, McDougall’s research is focused on non-psychoactive cannabinoids. But so far, his findings have shown that cannabis molecules can attach themselves to nerve receptors. For that reason, they control the firing of pain signals in the joint.

Pharmaceuticals aren’t always the answer

Katie Marsh of Madawaska, a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis in Maine was on a prescription of prednisone and antibiotics. She was encouraged by her doctors to try disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS). However, the side effects were severe enough that she went a natural way to ease her pain and swollen joints.

For that reason, she sought the advice of a physician that specializes in dietary cannabis. Marsh began juicing raw cannabis, blending it into a smoothie and consuming the whole raw plant. As a result, she began to feel better immediately. Within days, Marsh was off the prednisone and even painkillers. Above all, after 11 months of regular cannabis juicing, her condition is in remission.

Health Canada

arthritis pain is combatted by cannabis
Arthritis can be one of the most frustrating illnesses to live with. Simple tasks like opening a jar, standing up after sitting, and walking around a grocery store can become almost unbearable due to chronic pain. via HERB

Furthermore, Health Canada approved the study titled the CAPRI trial (Cannabinoid Profile Investigation of Vaporized Cannabis in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee). Researchers in Halifax and Montreal sought volunteers over the age of 50 who suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee to participate in the year study. Each person was randomized, double-blind, and put in a placebo-controlled study. In addition, the patient had to visit the physician and be exposed to six different types of cannabis through a vaporizer, all with varying levels of THC and CBD.

Two Canadian licensed producers of medical marijuana, Aphria, Inc., and the Peace Naturals Project contributed $100,000 each to the Arthritis Society to fund the grant. In addition, the research project has been approved by Health Canada. Researchers collected preliminary results at the end of 2016. As a result, the study continues into further investigation.

If you’re interested in cannabis for arthritis, check out Leafly’s list of cannabis strains that may help treat arthritis symptoms.