Marijuana against the pain and inflammation of arthritis?

CBD info

Chronic arthritis is the most common cause of disability. There is no pharmacological cure and the number of people affected by this disease is increasing. Laboratory studies and the personal experience of patients confirm that THC and CBD reduce inflammation and pain when applied as an arthritis treatment, although more clinical evidence is needed.


Arthritis is pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. This disease usually begins in middle age, which is when one in ten people develop some form of arthritis. The most common forms are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and septic arthritis. Pain is a common symptom of all types of arthritis, and only a few medications can reduce this chronic condition. Many patients become addicted to opioids, exposing themselves to a poor life and even death. In US states where marijuana is legal, many people are undergoing cannabis therapy instead of taking pain relievers, or to reduce opioid use. In these states, deaths from opioid use have been reduced by 25 percent in just a few years.


Cannabis is not a new treatment for arthritis. From ancient Chinese medicine to the official Western pharmacopoeia to the prohibition of the late 1930s, marijuana extracts were supplied by shamans or American and European pharmacies to treat all kinds of pain.

Recent research indicates that THC, CBD and the entire cannabis phytocomplex have a therapeutic effect in the treatment of chronic pain and inflammation. Laboratory tests and some clinical trials show that the anti-inflammatory action of cannabinoids can slow the progression of arthritis.

According to this 2007 study, our nerves are packed with cannabinoid receptors, and peripheral CB1 receptors could be an important target in osteoarthritis pain control. The cannabinoid receptor system is also the target of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis pain treatment, according to this 2008 study. A few years later, in 2014, this other study looked at the relationship of the endocannabinoid system to the modulation of pain caused for osteoarthritis. Much more research is currently underway, while on the clinical front, the cannabis-based drug Sativex has a “significant analgesic effect in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis pain and causes a significant decrease in disease activity”.


CBD is on the radar of science due to its effectiveness as an anti-arthritic agent without the psychotropic effects of THC. One of the first studies on the action of CBD suggested oral intake of CBD as a possible anti-arthritic substance, while more recent research concludes that a CBD-derived synthetic cannabinoid could be a potential new drug for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Topical CBD preparations are also being explored for their therapeutic potential without side effects. The action of topical preparations with cannabis on rheumatoid arthritis was analyzed in ***a 2016 investigation that indicated that the topical application of CBD relieves the pain and inflammation of arthritis in rats without causing adverse side effects. CBD’s CB2 receptor also regulates central sensitization and pain responses associated with osteoarthritis of the knee joint, according to **this 2013 research. It should be remembered that results from animal testing should not necessarily translate in successful human clinical trials.




All the evidence tells us that the immune system modulating activity of THC and CBD could help in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Both of these cannabinoids are known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and to reduce anxiety and depression that are often associated with serious illness. At least in the laboratory, and in the experience of (many) patients, cannabis derivatives alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and the adverse effects of pain relievers.

Apart from the occasional recent advance in “official” clinical research, the lack of structured data on the efficacy of cannabis as an alternative treatment for arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis prevents healthcare providers from providing specific treatment protocols. At the same time, there is a wide range of reliable cannabinoid products available designed for human health that, beyond statistics, are effective. That being said, the effects of herbal medicines on chronic pain, and pain reduction therapies in general, can vary greatly depending on the specific condition of the patient.

Marijuana edibles, oils, and extracts can help relieve a variety of joint pains. Balms and topical preparations with cannabis allow the patient to focus on the painful area. These preparations are said to provide almost instant relief. These promising results are driving research into new cannabinoid-based therapies, which are expected to combat arthritis. More testing and treatment protocols are needed to help patients get the most out of what they are already experiencing with marijuana-based self-medication.

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