Affecting more than 10 million people in the UK, arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in our joints.
Contrary to popular belief, it affects people of all ages, including children and young adults, causing chronic pain and swelling in areas such as the hands, knees and spine.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, with the NHS website instead suggesting treatments like physiotherapy, prescription medication and lifestyle changes to help sufferers ease their symptoms.
Now, with most feeling little to no relief and the number of arthritis sufferers continuing to grow, a new remedy is emerging as a frontrunner to alleviate symptoms of the condition – CBD. But can it really help arthritis pain?
While studies may have been relatively lacking so far, early indications would certainly suggest that it can.
CBD has been found to affect brain activity by interacting with two receptors to reduce pain and the effects of inflammation. It also plays a role in the immune system, which can often be under fire from rheumatoid arthritis attacking the tissue in our joints.
In addition, the remedy’s anti-inflammatory effects could also help to slow down the progression of the condition, as well as reducing other symptoms including fever and fatigue.
An early controlled trial to evaluate the use of cannabis-based medication to treat arthritis concluded that, after five weeks of use, a cannabis-based medicine reduced inflammation and significantly improved pain. Participants also reported improved sleep, and most side effects were mild.
It is worth noting that the majority of scientific trials into the effects of CBD on arthritis pain have been conducted using animals as subjects, however we should recognise the significant, positive results these studies offer.
For example, a 2011 study suggested that CBD helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way pain receptors respond to stimuli.
Researchers in a 2017 study, once again conducted on rats, also found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment option for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.
While the subjects of these studies may be limited, the forms of CBD which have been tested certainly aren’t, allowing us to gather an insight into how these various types may differ in their effects.
Meanwhile, a 2016 study using CBD gel on rats found that the remedy reduced both joint pain and inflammation without any side effects.
It’s clear that more research – particularly using human participants – is needed to allow us to fully understand the effects of CBD on arthritis pain, however early indications are that CBD is likely to be an effective treatment for relieving pain and inflammation in arthritis sufferers.
Formal research may be lacking, but with the number of arthritis sufferers anecdotally praising the remedy as an effective treatment, it’s likely that usage will only continue to grow as research emerges.
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