CBD oil and joint pain
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- Research overview
- The studies
- Patient perspectives
- What the experts say
- Bottom line
Joint pain affects millions of people around the world and is associated with a wide range of conditions and ailments. Some of the most common reasons for joint pain are musculoskeletal conditions and inflammatory diseases, yet few studies have addressed these.
Currently, treatment typically consists of drug therapy, including the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and weak opioids. Non-pharmacologic treatment plans include cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management, and patient education in self-management programs.
Based on the ways in which CBD oil impacts key brain receptors, it shows promise for those seeking an alternative treatment option in the hopes of reducing pain and inflammation. It may also address conditions related to chronic pain, including anxiety and sleep disorders.
While studies are limited in regards to the effect of CBD oil on joint pain, researchers have identified a clear relationship between the two. Scientists have found that CBD appears to inhibit or activate key compounds which influence the ECS, including anandamide. This compound is associated with pain reduction, and CBD helps reduce its absorption. As CBD levels increase in the bloodstream, the amount of perceived pain may lesson. This means that CBD may help the body use the ECS more effectively.
In animal studies, CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain without inducing significant side effects. However, human studies are limited, and the results are mixed. More comprehensive studies are required.
While studies are limited, researchers have identified a relationship between CBD and joint pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A 2016 study, published in the European Journal of Pain, examined the efficacy of topical CBD in rats. It was found that the application of CBD significantly reduced joint swelling, as well as limb posture scores as a rating of pain. It was concluded that topical CBD offers therapeutic potential for pain-related inflammation and behaviors associated with arthritis.
Another study, published in the journal Pain, focused on CBD pain prevention in relation to rat osteoarthritis. Upon studying osteoarthritis in rats, it was found that CBD blocked joint pain in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, prophylactic CBD administration prevented the future development of nerve damage and associated pain in the arthritic joints. The researchers concluded that CBD may be a safe treatment option in mammals, targeting pain while blocking the inflammatory responses that drive disease progression.
Billy Evans, 34, has been using CBD oil, as well as CBD creams and salves, in order to address his joint pain and muscle spasms. “I currently live in the United States and am in need of a shoulder replacement,” Evans told Weedmaps News. “Upon using CBD oil, I was able to get off of three different muscle relaxers, as well as some of my pain medications.”
Kayleigh Shanna, 31, is both a patient and industry expert, working as a cannabis sommelier, consultant, and master grower. “I originally began taking CBD oil in order to better treat my symptoms of depression and anxiety,” Shanna said. “However, I also suffered from pain and sleep disturbances as a direct result of my mood disorder, both of which significantly improved after I began taking CBD oil daily.”
People use CBD Oil and CBD creams and salves to ease joint pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Brendon James, 30, first became a medical patient in 2010 following a major car crash. After severely damaging his foot, he was living in constant pain. “I was given everything from pain medications to nerve suppressants and opioids, but the side effects made me seek alternatives,” James said.
He continued, “Today, I have been taking high-CBD strain cannabis and oil derivatives for nearly a decade. This treatment option has helped considerably with the pain, as well as my ability to cope with life alterations associated with nearly losing my foot. The pain will never fully go away, but CBD has helped reduce the associated inflammation. There have been no notable side effects and I am in no way addicted to it. I am now in control of my pain — not the other way around.”
What the experts say
Dr. Bonni Goldstein is a medical adviser to Weedmaps.com, author of Cannabis Revealed, and Medical Director of Canna-Centers in California. She says CBD can help reduce inflammatory discomfort. “CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and can decrease joint pain in patients with arthritis and other conditions that cause joint inflammation. Patients often report better mobility and an ability to decrease the use of NSAIDs with CBD use.
CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and can decrease joint pain in patients with arthritis and other conditions that cause joint inflammation.
“An elderly woman was brought to my office by her adult daughter. The elderly lady was experiencing pain from osteoarthritis in her knees that began to affect her mobility. The patient began taking a 25:1 CBD:THC ratio edible, resulting in almost complete resolution of pain and improved mobility,” Goldstein said.
“Plants all over the world have evolved thousands of their own chemicals that just by coincidence are useful in treating human illnesses,” says Dr. Paula Williams, a physician at Apollo Cannabis Clinics, a medical cannabis care center in the Toronto area. “It turns out that the nervous system has neural pathways that use the body’s own cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in various ways to increase natural pain relief. These are not the same as opioid receptors, which is one reason why cannabis does not tend to be addicting when used for pain relief.”
Williams recommends using CBD and THC in tandem for joint pain relief.
“I’ve been prescribing medical cannabis to patients in my pain practice, hundreds of them, for about 10 years,” Williams says.
“There are many kinds of joint pain, but one of the most common sources of pain is arthritis,” states Adie Rae, Ph.D., a subject matter expert for Weedmaps who has extensively studied the endocannabinoid system. “Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis patients report using topical CBD oil to manage their symptoms. The true efficacy of these products has not been studied in clinical trials, but in animal models of arthritis, topical CBD effectively reduces pain and inflammation.”
Many patients report using CBD to relieve symptoms of joint pain. Animal models have shown positive effects, especially in relation to arthritis. However, at this time, more scientific research is required in humans to determine dosing and overall safety guidelines.
Rae added, “An important consideration for patients choosing to explore topical CBD for joint pain is the formula or makeup of the product. Some CBD oils are diluted in carrier oils that are not very compatible with the skin, whereas other plant-derived oils can enhance skin penetration (jojoba oil, for example). Also, eucalyptus, rosemary, and citrus oils have been shown to increase the skin penetration of other medications, so topical CBD products that also contain these ingredients could yield better results.”
CBD oil and joint pain Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Research overview The studies Patient perspectives What the experts say
Using CBD for Arthritis: Tips for How to Get Started
CBD, a compound derived from hemp, can help soothe joint pain. Here’s how to find a product that works for you.
Enthusiasts of cannabidiol (better known as CBD) rave about the substance’s health benefits. Some small studies have shown that CBD could be a remedy for anxiety and help children with post-traumatic stress disorder get to sleep. The substance was even FDA-approved last year as a prescription drug to manage rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
So naturally, you might be wondering: Can CBD help people with arthritis and related diseases cope with pain? Anecdotal reports from patients and some preliminary research suggests yes, but the science is still emerging and more research is needed.
Here’s what you need to know right now about how to use CBD to ease arthritis symptoms, how to find a high-quality CBD product, and how to work with your doctor to incorporate CBD into your arthritis treatment plan.
What Is CBD, and Can It Help with Arthritis?
CBD is a chemical found derived from hemp. Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis plants, but they are very different from each other. They each have different quantities of various phytocannabinoids, which are substances naturally found in the cannabis plant. (It’s sort of like how different kinds of berries contain different combinations of antioxidants.)
- Marijuana contains an abundance of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the cannabinoid that gets you high.
- Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC. It contains CBD, which is a cannabinoid that doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. CBD cannot make you feel high. Instead, CBD works in other ways with your endocannabinoid system, which is a group of receptors in the body that are affected by the dozens of other documented cannabinoids.
“Cannabinoids can inhibit or excite the release of neurotransmitters [brain chemicals] and play a role in modulating the body’s natural inflammatory response, which are the two things we’re concerned about when talking about CBD for arthritis,” says Hervé Damas,MD, a Miami-based physician and founder of Grassroots Herbals, a CBD product company.
CBD is thought to work on pain in two parts of the body: the site of soreness (such as your finger joints) and the central nervous system, which sends pain signals to the brain when it detects certain stimulation or damage to nerves and cells.
The ability for CBD to calm that response is one reason the compound might be a viable pain remedy for people with arthritis. Another is CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation occurs when your body is fighting a perceived infection. In autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system is attacking healthy parts of your body like your joints.
It’s important to note that while early research on animals has shown promise for CBD, more research is needed before we can draw anything conclusive for humans. However, anecdotal reports from people who have started incorporating CBD into their arthritis treatment are positive. One CreakyJoints member shared on Facebook that topical CBD “helps better than any other ointment I’ve ever used.” CBD could be worth exploring as a potential solution to pain as part of an overall arthritis treatment plan.
Subscribe to CreakyJoints
With more and more people using marijuana and CBD to treat chronic pain, it is now more important than ever to have research-backed information and advice. Subscribe to CreakyJoints (it’s free) and we’ll notify you when opportunities to participate in CBD and medical marijuana research become available in your area, for your condition.
How to Find the Right CBD Product for You
From supermarkets and pharmacies to health food stores and online retailers, CBD can be found just about everywhere. But how do you choose the right CBD product for your health needs?
1. Pick the CBD Formulation You Want to Use
CBD comes in a few different forms. Commonly used ones include:
- Edibles: You eat CBD infused into gummies, chocolates, sodas, baked goods, and other edible items
- Vaporizer: You inhale CBD through a vape pen that heats up the oil
- Sublingual drops: You take a few drops under your tongue of a high-concentrate solution of CBD
- Topicals: You apply creams, lotions, balms and other products with CBD directly to your skin
The different types of CBD take effect in your body at different rates. Here’s how long you can expect different types of CBD products to kick in, according to Dr. Damas:
- Edibles: 30 minutes to two hours
- Vaporizer: Two minutes
- Sublingual drops: 15-30 minutes
- Topicals: 10 minutes
2. Look for Signs of High-Quality CBD
Don’t just buy the least expensive one on the shelf. There are lots of poor-quality CBD products on the market (some of which don’t contain the amount of CBD they claim, per these FDA warning letters).
Dr. Damas recommends looking for CBD products that are made in the United States, use a carbon dioxide-based extraction method (“It’s the cleanest,” he says), come from organically grown hemp, and don’t contain a lot of extra ingredients. Consumer Reports also has a thorough guide to shopping for CBD that can help you find a high-quality product.
3. Pick the Right Dose
As for dosing of CBD oil, the jury’s still out on just how much you should take. Start with a low dose (such as 5 to 10 mg), and gradually work your way up over a few weeks until you notice the effects.
“Usually people find pain relief when they take 20 to 35 milligrams of CBD daily,” says Dr. Damas.
You can take the full dose at once or break it up throughout the day. Experiment with what makes you feel best. You should start seeing improvements shortly after you start supplementing with CBD, with more noticeable effects kicking in after two weeks.
How to Discuss CBD with Your Doctor
You should talk to the doctor who treats your arthritis before you start taking CBD or any other supplement. They can let you know if CBD might interact with any medications you currently take or potentially worsen a chronic condition. For example, “CBD may make it easier to bleed,” says Dr. Damas. “So if you’re going to have surgery, you might want to stop taking it before the procedure.”
Check out this list of potential drug interactions with CBD from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, but you should always check with your doctor about your individual case.
Keep in mind that your doctor’s knowledge of CBD might be limited. There isn’t a lot of research about the benefits of CBD or about ideal dosages or formulations, so your doctor might not be able to be overly specific in terms of their recommendations. However, they still need to know that you’re taking CBD. Chances are, they’ll be interested in hearing about your experience using CBD products and your self-reports on how CBD may be helping to manage your pain or other symptoms.
CBD, a compound derived from hemp, can help soothe joint pain. Here’s how to find a product that works for you.