There are over 100 distinct types of arthritis and associated conditions with the two most common being osteoarthritis, which causes cartilage to break down, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder affecting the synovium, the soft tissue that lines the spaces of joints and tendon sheaths. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. with over 50 million adults and 300,000 children exhibiting symptoms of pain, swelling, and decreased mobility.
Generally used to describe any joint pain or joint disease, arthritis occurs in people of all ages, sexes, and races, but is more prevalent among women and often occurs with age. Symptoms may appear sporadically, range from mild to severe, or stay the same for years. Severe cases cause chronic pain, making it difficult for individuals to complete normal daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or even opening a jar.
An aging population in the U.S. has increased the number of people diagnosed with arthritis, and the need for pain relief has pharmaceutical companies and the medical community creating new products and treatments, increasing “the rate of disease treatment rather than symptoms treatment.” Many of the current medications and those that are in development may lessen the pain associated with arthritis, but they do little to treat the actual cause of the pain.
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Legal issues surrounding the use of cannabis has impeded research, but recent shifts in policy and public perception have opened the door for the study of medical benefits the plant offers. Studies have found that both marijuana and hemp share many of the same therapeutic compounds, with marijuana having high levels of THC, giving it it’s psychoactive properties, while hemp has THC levels that are below 0.3% and no psychoactive properties. All cannabis plants share over 100 different compounds known as cannabinoids, which work in conjunction with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. Research has identified Cannabidiol (CBD) as possessing remarkably potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Dr. Blake Pearson, the founder of Greenly Medical Consulting in Ontario, Canada and a medical doctor specializing in cannabinoid medicine notes that CBD is promising as a treatment for arthritis because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and is unique because it is not intoxicating or addictive. Dr. Pearson cites his experience with the compound and growing research providing evidence that CBD reduces pain and improves symptoms related to inflammation, including inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The anti-inflammatory and healing properties of CBD have captured the attention of professional athletes and the sports world at large. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently removed CBD from its list of banned substances providing many athletes with an alternative to over the counter pain medications. Top athletes undergo intense physical training which often causes pain and inflammation of the muscles and joints. Professional athletes, such as mountain biker Teal Stetson-Lee and ultrarunner Avery Collins, have discovered that CBD effectively treats the discomfort that rigorous training can cause and is a safer alternative to over the counter medications.
Arthritis causes inflammation of the joints which can be extremely painful, and while a common illness, the cause is not well understood. Traditional treatments attempt to provide relief through the use of medications and drugs which mask the pain. CBD delivers an exceptional treatment by alleviating pain while its anti-inflammatory properties work to reduce the inflammation causing the discomfort. While more research is needed, CBD promises to be an effective treatment for arthritis and the pain associated with inflammation.
“Arthritis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Mar. 2018.
Averill, Graham. “Why Athletes Are Ditching Ibuprofen for CBD.” Outside Online, Outside Magazine, 20 Apr. 2018.
Burstein, S. “Cannabidiol (CBD) and Its Analogs: a Review of Their Effects on Inflammation.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Apr. 2015.
Persistence Market Research Pvt. Ltd. “Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Market to Reach US$ 37,800 Mn by 2025 – Persistence Market Research.” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, PRNewswire, 28 Mar. 2018.
Witcamp, R., and J. Meijerink. “The Endocannabinoid System: an Emerging Key Player in Inflammation.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine.