The headline for the Arthritis Foundation’s website declares: “You are not alone” — and that statement couldn’t be more true for sufferers of the chronic disease. While the pain and inflammation of arthritis can feel debilitating and isolating, sufferers can take a small measure of comfort in the fact that they’re in very good company.
An estimated 54 million Americans (one in five) have been diagnosed with arthritis. From ankylosing spondylitis to fibromyalgia; from gout to lupus; from juvenile arthritis to osteoarthritis; from psoriatic arthritis to rheumatoid arthritis — all forms of arthritis and their associated ailments affect people of all ages, and in a variety of debilitating ways.
It’s little wonder, then, that according to a survey of 2,600 arthritis sufferers conducted by the Arthritis Foundation, a whopping 80 percent of them have either tried CBD to treat their arthritis, are currently using it or are considering using it in the future.
Perhaps the “You are not alone” solidarity statement should be extended to apply to people who see the potential of using CBD to treat arthritis!
It’s true: Word is spreading fast about the potential of CBD as an effective weapon in the lifelong battle against arthritis. The anecdotes are overwhelmingly positive. The peer-reviewed studies are increasing in number, and their results are promising.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into how CBD can be used to find relief from the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
Why CBD? A Brief Intro To The Powers Of This Popular Substance
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the 113 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis or hemp plant. Though it’s often discussed in the same breath as marijuana, hemp or its fellow cannabinoid THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD causes none of the psychotropic effects so widely associated with those substances. That’s because the “high” feeling that makes marijuana so controversial is caused by THC, and CBD products — including New Coastal’s — are Farm Bill Compliant, and contain less than 0.3% THC.
In the past decade or so, people have been using CBD in increasing numbers to help with anxiety, appetite, trouble sleeping, pain, inflammation and more. Companies are eager to meet the exploding public appetite for this versatile therapeutic substance, offering up tinctures, softgels, topical products, gummies, suppositories and other CBD products.
Arthritis sufferers have been singing the praises of CBD for pain relief and inflammation reduction for a long time now. But is there something there?
CBD And Arthritis: The Evidence So Far
People who have already tried CBD to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis can’t stop talking about how effective the substance is. But while anecdotes and ringing endorsements are quite convincing, they lack the certainty of scientific evidence. Luckily, there have been a number of rigorous research projects to provide us with data about the efficacy of CBD in treating arthritis.
A landmark study, supported by the American Cancer Society, was published in the European Journal of Pain in 2016. In introducing the research, its authors noted that the most effective known treatment for rheumatoid arthritis — injectable fusion proteins — can stop the progression of the disease, but will cause side effects like immune suppression and can lead to its recurrence.
Enter CBD. In the words of the study’s authors: “Cannabidiol (CBD) attenuates inflammation and pain without side effects.” Further, by applying the CBD topically rather than taking it orally, arthritis sufferers achieve a more consistent treatment outcome because they avoid first-pass metabolism and experience more constant plasma levels.
In order to arrive at their findings, the scientists tested how effective CBD was at reducing pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. (The rats were given arthritis through an injected mixture of mineral oil, detergent and an antigen — a common protocol in arthritis treatment studies.)
The study’s authors applied CBD gels at concentrations of 0.6, 3.1, 6.2 or 62.3 mg/day for four consecutive days after arthritis induction. Following administration, the authors measured the rats’ joint circumference and recorded what kind of immune cell invasion their bodies were experiencing. They also made note of the rats’ reflexes upon feeling a hot surface and noted how active the rats were following CBD treatment.
The key results: “CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, [decreased] spontaneous pain, [lowered] immune cell infiltration … and revealed reductions of pro-inflammatory biomarkers.” While the low doses — 0.6 mg/day and 3.1 mg/day — showed no significant impacts, CBD doses at 6.2 and 62 mg/day were effective doses. The CBD did not appear to impact the rats’ higher brain function.
Put simply by the study’s authors: “These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation, without evident side-effects.”
Recommended CBD Treatment Methods And Dosages For Arthritis Sufferers
Due to the fact that CBD is such a new and fast-growing industry, there’s a lot of public misconception and some disagreement about the best ways for arthritis sufferers to take advantage of this wonder substance.
Kevin Boehnke, a research investigator working in anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, was instrumental in creating the Arthritis Foundation’s recently published guidelines on how arthritis sufferers can best utilize CBD. The guidelines, published September 2019, represented a first: No major patient advocacy group had publicly offered its opinion on CBD usage to treat arthritis before.
“It was important to acknowledge the public’s interest, and put out some guidelines on the state of the science,” Boehnke said.
The first piece of guidance from the Foundation: Arthritis sufferers wanting to try CBD should start taking the lowest dose possible, and assess the impact before increasing dosage. Patients should also pay careful attention to how their symptoms change or improve over time.
But it doesn’t all have to be guesswork: New Coastal has partnered with EndoCanna Health to offer a unique CBD DNA test, which is the only one on the market that can accurately measure:
- Your current CBD levels
- How much and when you should supplement your body with CBD
- How taking CBD, or any cannabis product, can interact with medications you may already be taking
Regarding what kind of CBD to take, the Arthritis Foundation recommends people try CBD sprays and sublingual tinctures (liquid drops held under the tongue for about one minute). These CBD products are considered a good choice for treating arthritis because they allow the active ingredient to go right into the bloodstream, which will yield the highest possible dose efficiency and the shortest time to relief.
The Foundation considers edible products containing CBDs and CBD lotions as less than ideal for arthritis relief, as those products may cause unpredictable impacts in different people. The Foundation does not recommend vaping CBD.
As always, it’s important to consider how CBD may interact with any existing medications, from over-the-counter painkillers to corticosteroids to prescription anti-depressants.
How To Choose The Right CBD Product To Treat Your Arthritis: Get Started
CBD has shown promising results in decreasing inflammation and pain in arthritic rats. An important takeaway from the European Journal of Pain study is that dosing can be sensitive, and diminishing returns can be observed. That is: Depending on the person, it may not take a lot of CBD to start experiencing relief from the pain and inflammation of arthritis, and taking a higher dose could deliver relief, but not any more than you would experience at the lower dose.
That’s the basis for the Arthritis Foundation’s recent guidance on how to use CBD for arthritis relief. Start low and titrate your dose up slowly, carefully observing how your body handles the CBD at each concentration. Avoid vaping, and opt for sprays and tinctures rather than consumables and transdermal applications.
The biggest, most empowering piece of advice for using CBD to treat arthritis? Just go ahead and try it. With the body of evidence and anecdotes favoring CBD for arthritis use reaching a critical mass, and with the availability of trustworthy, high-quality CBD health and wellness products at an all-time high — there’s no better time to fight your arthritis symptoms with CBD than right now.