Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the body’s immune system attacks itself - this is obviously a bad thing!
Frustratingly, autoimmune conditions cannot typically be cured, and so people suffering from them have to learn to live with them, and treat the symptoms as best they can.
These diseases are an area of exploration for medicine as there is a lot of progress to be made! One promising compound that has been investigated for a while is cannabidiol or 'CBD' - a so-called cannabinoid because it is found in the cannabis plant.
This compound, CBD, has been shown to interact with the human ‘endocannabinoid system’ which is a communication system in our bodies that uses cannabis-like compounds to send signals and interacts with other body systems, like the immune system and the nervous system.
Today we look at the evidence for using CBD for arthritis pain, and some of the other benefits that CBD oil products may provide.
CBD OIL FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
What is CBD oil?
CBD is an abbreviation of ‘cannabidiol’ and can now be found in a variety of products. It is also the active component in Epidiolex, a cannabis based medicine for treating rare forms of epilepsy.
Cannabidiol CBD is extracted from cannabis plants - typically ‘hemp’ which is cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC, the other cannabinoid in cannabis that is known for the ‘high’ it gives. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
The benefits of CBD arise from the interactions with the endocannabinoid system, which helps to regulate communication across the entire body. This could be the reason that CBD appears to have a positive impact on many bodily functions.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and stiffness in the joints, leading to pain. It happens when the body’s immune system attacks the cells that line the joints, which can cause damage to the joints themselves, as well as cartilage and bone.
As CBD has been shown to reduce the inflammatory response, it could be that using CBD reduces the number of inflammatory cells sent to a joint, leading to reduced inflammation, less damage done to the cells, and less pain!
How does CBD oil affect the body?
We experience pain as signals that are part of the nervous system, and CBD interacts with receptors in our brains that changes the signalling, which can result in an analgesic (pain killing) effect.
Inflammation itself can be a cause for pain and occurs when the body is trying to fight infection and repair damage. When this occurs, CBD can reduce the amount of pro-inflammatory white blood cells that are sent to the site of infection, reducing the degree of inflammation.
How to use CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis?
When it comes to people with arthritis, there is some evidence that the process occurring in rheumatoid arthritis can be mitigated by the action of CBD.
Studies examining the effect of using CBD for arthritis pain in animals found that CBD might decrease chronic inflammation and pain by a number of possible methods, though the exact mechanism is not certain.
It is clear that some people dealing with forms of chronic pain, like arthritis pain, may really benefit from using CBD in their pain management routine. The current evidence indicates that the amount of CBD taken can impact the effectiveness, too.
The other factor is the method of delivery - different CBD products provide different advantages; some may be more suited to treat certain issues than others! CBD is available in gummy form to eat, oral drops to drop on the tongue, vape liquids for vaping, or a topical CBD cream to apply right at the source of pain!
Eating CBD gummies means they have to pass through the digestive system before you see the benefits, with reports that this takes at least 30 minutes. Oral drops can take between 15 and 30 minutes to kick in, but the fastest way to get CBD into the system is by vaping, with users reporting feeling effects within 5 minutes.
Topical cream containing CBD is a favourite for use in joint pain as it can be applied right to the area it is needed, and according to the Arthritis Foundation, gets to work in 15 to 45 minutes!
As there are no official guidelines for dosing, it is recommended that you start dosing CBD in small amounts and increase the dose over time until you see an effect. Three drops of the SMOKO 500mg oral CBD oil would work out to be 7.5mg - taken twice a day would be 15mg. Compare this to the SMOKO CBD gummies, which contain 25mg CBD each - so one a day would be a good start.
Is it safe and legal to use in the UK?
The legality of CBD is, understandably, a little confusing due to the fact it is a cannabis derived product. While medical cannabis is now available in the UK, CBD products offer a way of getting the benefits of the cannabis plant, but without the psychoactive ingredient, THC - so that means CBD products shouldn’t get you high!
For this reason, CBD products with only trace amounts of THC are legally available on the retail market.
CBD can be extracted from any cannabis plant, but different extraction methods, as well as different strains of the plant, may result in an amount of THC getting into the product. For CBD products available in the UK, there is a maximum level of THC allowed for that reason, and the level is currently 1 microgram per packet (of any size!). This is too small to produce a psychoactive effect.
Things are a little different in the US and due to the discrepancies between state laws and federal laws, the legality of THC is subject to the state that you are in - though this is constantly changing.
While CBD is tolerated well in most people, some users may experience a side effect or two. These can include dry mouth, reduced appetite, drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhoea - so if you experience any unpleasant side effects, try reducing the dose, or stopping use altogether.
What does the research say?
Clinical CBD studies suggest a number of different ways that CBD interacts with the body to produce these positive effects, and no one is quite certain which one is the winner!
One mini review of the available evidence indicated that CBD could interact with glycine receptors to reduce inflammation and the body’s response to pain in rats. Another proposed mechanism was that CBD reduced the overall immune response in mice with diabetic neuropathy.
Whatever mechanism is truly at play, not everyone sees benefits from taking CBD, and sometimes getting the right dose takes some time, so even users who could benefit might take a while to see any improvements.
Creakyjoints.org asked arthritis patients to share their experience with using CBD for arthritis pain and other symptoms, and the results were varied. One user experienced improvements after the second dose, feeling calmer, having less pain, and seeing improved sleep.
Another respondent tried CBD pills for a while with no results - though at her doctor’s recommendation, she tried high quality CBD oil products alongside her medication and found that they worked well together.
Do keep in mind that CBD can have drug interactions that can impact how medications behave in the body - so if you are taking any medication, you should consult your doctor before starting on CBD as well.
CBD OIL FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: CONCLUSION
The use of CBD is becoming more prolific, but there is still much to learn about it: the right doses for the condition, why some people see benefits and others don’t, and the precise mechanisms that are at play in any given situation where CBD is involved.
For this reason, we cannot consider CBD as one of the effective treatments for arthritis until a sufficient amount of evidence has been medically reviewed - but the current evidence suggests CBD could help to improve the quality of life of some people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other neurological conditions by reducing the perception of pain, reducing inflammation, helping with depression and improving sleep!
If you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and wonder if using CBD for arthritis pain could help improve your quality of life, then try the SMOKO CBD range for a high quality CBD product made using CBD cryogenically extracted from cannabis sativa L plants responsibly grown in Oregon, USA. With product testing certificates available for our products, you know you can put your trust in the SMOKO CBD range!
If you would like advice on how to get the best shelf life from your CBD Oil and gummies, check out our guide to storing your CBD!
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