There are around 54.4 million people with arthritis pain in the United States, making it the leading cause of disability. Many of those affected are looking for ways to counter this pain. There is growing support for CBD products and their ability to help ease the pain of arthritis. How is this possible and how do you know if you should give CBD at try?
CBD, a term used to refer to cannabidiol, is an active compound found in the cannabis plant that is not intoxicating. Most CBD products are extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis that has traces of THC (up to 0.3%). The compound is extracted from the cannabis plant and placed primarily into creams, pills and sprays to help relieve the stiff joints associated with arthritis.
Studies are inconclusive at best on this issue. Although some studies in animals have shown some improvement in arthritis pain, nothing is consistent. There is no scientific evidence to prove conclusively that CBD is an effective treatment for arthritis in humans. The problem with arthritis is there are more than 100 types. If you combine that with the fact that everyone responds to pain differently, it would be nearly impossible to find one CBD product, or any product for that matter, that could help all types of arthritis. That being said, numerous people are finding, anecdotally, noticeable pain relief, sleep improvement and/or anxiety reduction from using CBD products.
Here are some suggestions from the Harvard Medical School Health Blog on treating arthritis pain with CBD products:
- 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 is if you are interested in trying CBD for arthritis pain, you should consult with your doctor first. Remember CBD is not a substitute for disease-modifying treatment given by your doctor. After several weeks of treatment if you do not see relief using CBD products, this may not be a good treatment for you. People should always check their state laws, because CBD products are not legal in every state. Pain from arthritis is a horrible chronic issue and if CBD can safely improve your symptoms, it is worth a try.