Does CBD help with arthritis pain?
If you have chronic arthritis pain, you may be wondering about cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment. CBD, along with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals, is found in marijuana. But unlike THC, CBD is not “psychoactive” — that is, it does not cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use.
There’s a good chance you’ve tried it already: according to a Gallup poll in August of 2019, about 14% of Americans report using CBD products, and the number one reason is pain. The Arthritis Foundation conducted its own poll and found that 29% reported current use of CBD (mostly in liquid or topical form), and nearly 80% of respondents were either using it, had used it in the past, or were considering it. Of those using it, most reported improvement in physical function, sleep, and well-being; of note, a minority reported improvement in pain or stiffness.
Perhaps you’ve been tempted to try it. After all, most types of arthritis are not cured by other treatments, and CBD is considered a less addictive option than opiates. Or maybe it’s the marketing that recommends CBD products for everything from arthritis to anxiety to seizures. The ads are pretty hard to miss. (Now here’s a coincidence: as I was writing this, my email preview pane displayed a message that seemed to jump off the screen: CBD Has Helped Millions!! Try It Free Today!)
What’s the evidence it works? And what do experts recommend? Until recently, there’s been little research and even less guidance for people (or their doctors) interested in CBD products that are now increasingly legal and widely promoted.
But now, there is.
A word about arthritis pain
It’s worth emphasizing that there are more than 100 types of arthritis, and while pain is a cardinal feature of all of them, these conditions do not all act alike. And what works for one may not work for another. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and stiffness and maintaining function for all types of arthritis. But for certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, conventional prescription medications are highly recommended, because these drugs help prevent permanent joint damage and worsening disability.
In addition, individuals experience pain and respond to treatment in different ways. As a result, it’s highly unlikely that there is a single CBD-containing product that works for all people with all types of arthritis.
What’s the evidence that CBD is effective for chronic arthritis pain?
While there are laboratory studies suggesting CBD might be a promising approach, and animal studies showing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, well-designed studies demonstrating compelling evidence that CBD is safe and effective for chronic arthritis pain in humans do not exist. A randomized trial of topical CBD for osteoarthritis of the knee has been published, but in abstract form only (meaning it’s a preliminary report that summarizes the trial and has not been thoroughly vetted yet); the trial lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed at best. One of the largest reviews examined the health effects of cannabis and CBD, and concluded that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” But there was no specific conclusion regarding CBD, presumably because definitive studies were not available.
Of course, there is anecdotal evidence and testimonials galore, including reports of dramatic improvement by people who tried CBD in its various forms (including capsule, liquid, topical, and spray) for their pain. But we are still waiting for well-designed, scientifically valid, and rigorous clinical trials (such as this one in progress) that are so badly needed to answer the question of just how helpful CBD may be to people with chronic arthritis pain.
Are there downsides to CBD treatment?
As with any treatment, there can be downsides. CBD is generally considered safe; however, it can still cause lightheadedness, sleepiness, dry mouth, and rarely, liver problems. There may be uncertainty about the potency or purity of CBD products (since they are not regulated as prescription medications are), and CBD can interact with other medications. For pregnant women, concern has been raised about a possible link between inhaled cannabis and lower-birthweight babies; it’s not clear if this applies to CBD. Some pain specialists have concerns that CBD may upset the body’s natural system of pain regulation, leading to tolerance (so that higher doses are needed for the same effect), though the potential for addiction is generally considered to be low.
There is one definite downside: cost. Prices range widely but CBD products aren’t inexpensive, and depending on dose, frequency, and formulation, the cost can be considerable — I found one brand that was $120/month, and health insurance does not usually cover it.
Are there guidelines about the use of CBD for chronic arthritis pain?
Until recently, little guidance has been available for people with arthritis pain who were interested in CBD treatment. Depending on availability and interest, patients and their doctors had to decide on their own whether CBD was a reasonable option in each specific case. To a large degree that’s still true, but some guidelines have been published. Here’s one set of guidelines for people pursuing treatment with CBD that I find quite reasonable (based on recommendations from the Arthritis Foundation and a recent commentary published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research):
- If considering a CBD product, choose one that has been independently tested for purity, potency, and safety — for example, look for one that has received a “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMP) certification.
- CBD should be one part of an overall pain management plan that includes nonmedication options (such as exercise) and psychological support.
- Choose an oral treatment (rather than inhaled products) and start with a low dose taken in the evening.
- Establish initial goals of treatment within a realistic period of time — for example, a reduction in knee pain that allows you to walk around the block within two weeks of starting treatment; later, if improved, the goals can be adjusted.
- Tell your doctor(s) about your planned and current CBD treatment; monitor your pain and adjust medications with your medical providers, rather than with nonmedical practitioners (such as those selling CBD products).
- Don’t make CBD your first choice for pain relief; it is more appropriate to consider it if other treatments have not been effective enough.
- Don’t have nonmedical practitioners (such as those selling CBD products) managing your chronic pain; pain management should be between you and your healthcare team, even if it includes CBD.
- For people with rheumatoid arthritis or related conditions, do not stop prescribed medications that may be protecting your joints from future damage; discuss any changes to your medication regimen with your doctor.
The bottom line
If you’re interested in CBD treatment for chronic arthritis pain or if you’re already taking it, review the pros, cons, and latest news with your healthcare providers, and together you can decide on a reasonable treatment plan. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, it may be quite important to continue your conventional, prescribed medications even if you pursue additional relief with CBD products.
We may not have all the evidence we’d like, but if CBD can safely improve your symptoms, it may be worth considering.
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Using CBD for Pain Management
Many people are still reluctant about the beneficial effects of CBD in relieving pain. Even though it is becoming increasingly popular in the medical field, more scientific research is needed to make sure that it is safe. But what do we really know about CBD oil? In today’s blog, let us delve into CBD oil and how it helps deal with pain management.
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An Overview on CBD
CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is an active compound that can be found in cannabis plants. While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, however, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. Although CBD is a prevalent ingredient of cannabis, however, it does not exactly cause a “high” or a psychoactive effect. As a matter of fact, in a report published by the World Health Organization, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.
Many scientific research is still underway to prove the safety of CBD. To date, no serious safety concerns have been associated with moderate doses of CBD. In addition, there is no evidence that ties the recreational use of CBD on any public health-related problems. Currently, cannabis is still in Schedule 1 drugs. This means that it still has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Cannabidiol can easily be obtained in most parts of the United States. Most states have laws legalizing the use of CBD, however, it has varying degrees of restriction.
The Health Benefits of CBD
More scientific research and experiments are needed to have definite answers on how beneficial CBD is. However, CBD has been recommended for a wide variety of health problems. The strongest scientific evidence for its effectiveness is its application in the treatment of some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes. In fact, in 2018, the FDA approved a CBD-based drug for childhood epileptic conditions.
In an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, it says that CBD is commonly used to address anxiety and is beneficial to those who have insomnia. There are studies that suggest that CBD can help with both falling asleep and staying awake. Furthermore, CBD may also limit inflammation in the nervous system which benefits those who are experiencing certain immune system problems.
How Does CBD Provide Chronic Pain Relief?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that approximately 50 million U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% or 20 million or of U.S. adults had high-impact chronic pain. The most debilitating symptoms of those who suffer from chronic pain are the stiffness and the decreased movement of their joints which can be severe over time. There are some treatment programs and medications that can reduce the pain and the discomfort that comes with different chronic illnesses.
Although many people are already using it, there are still doubts about its effectiveness because of the debates surrounding medical marijuana. However, one of the treatments that are becoming popular in pain management is the CBD oil. It is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. It is gaining popularity in the health and wellness industry with some scientific studies to support how it can alleviate symptoms of ailments like chronic pain.
Other Health Benefits of CBD
CBD oil may benefit a person’s health in various ways. One of the benefits of cannabidiol is that it relieves arthritis pain. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers studied the potential benefits of CBD oil to arthritis patients. The findings were promising. Researchers have found that indeed it can decrease joint inflammation and serve as a protectant to the nerves. Aside from arthritis, CBD oil also eases other chronic pain conditions. For instance, research indicates that CBD oil is helpful in easing the pain for patients who are suffering from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. There are also studies that support the positive effects of CBD oil for those who have fibromyalgia pain.
Although CBD is generally considered safe, it may cause unpleasant reactions in some people. The side effects may include tiredness, diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in appetite and weight. It is important to consult a doctor first before trying any CBD-based medications to ensure safety.
Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons as to why people take CBD. If you are suffering from chronic pain conditions and would want a medication that has minimal side effects, then you might consider CBD oil for pain management. Before doing so, discuss it with your pain specialist first.
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