I’ve written about arthritis before but focused more on arthritis in general. Today let’s look at rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nearly 54 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States have been diagnosed with RA, according to the arthritis foundation. There are two distinct types of arthritis:
Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disease that attacks joints, causing inflammation. It commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.
Osteoarthritis: A degenerative disease that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee and thumb joints.
CBD and your immune system
Symptoms of RA manifest as swelling, pain and stiffness in joints, including hands, feet, wrists, elbow, knees, hands and fingers. These symptoms are caused by inflammation of the joint tissue as a result of the autoimmune disease. Generally, the pain is more pronounced when inflammation irritates the joint. Studies have shown that RA pain may be relieved with CBD.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of 60 compounds found in the hemp plant. It interacts with our bodies’ endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help restore its balance. The ECS has two receptors, CB1 and CB2, which bind with CBD to help reduce inflammation and pain, among other things. The CB2 receptor also helps keep your immune system balanced. As we’ve already noted, RA is a disease of the immune system.
When it comes to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which inflammation is a factor, the immune system can’t differentiate between foreign intrusions and the body’s normal functions, so it literally attacks itself.
CBD, however, can help the immune system suppress the inability to distinguish harmful intrusion from normal function. As a result the immune system regains its proper homeostasis or balance—getting rid of what doesn’t belong and keeping what does by stimulating the body’s own CB2 receptors.
CBD and inflammation
CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s also been found to be a powerful antioxidant. So what, you ask? Inflammation can be caused by excessive oxidative stress, which is relieved with, you guessed it, antioxidants.
By ingesting hemp oil, or using a CBD-infused topical, it’s possible to reduce the inflammation and the associated pain. In addition, a study being conducted by Canadian researcher Dr. Jason McDougall, a professor of pharmacology and anesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and supported by the Arthritis Society, is working to find out if CBD can actually repair the joints as well as relieve some of the pain. Stay tuned on that.
Treat RA pain with CBD
Often medications prescribed for RA have serious side effects. CBD on the other hand has few, if any. Of course, its effectiveness varies among individuals, so trial and error is still the best way to find out if it works for you.
Topicals and CBD oil used together can enhance symptom relief. Start with lower doses and work up gradually. For more information about dosing, read my blog: Dosing with CBD.
Ultimately, because most of the studies on CBD and arthritis have been done on rodents, it’s clear more studies must be conducted with human beings. However, as more people become interested in using CBD for its medicinal properties, more research is bound to follow.