Arthritis can be one of the most frustrating illnesses to live with—simple tasks like opening a jar, standing up after sitting, and walking around a grocery store can become almost unbearable due to chronic pain. One important question we will answer is: can cannabis treat arthritis pain and inflammation?
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Few treatments have provided effective relief for arthritis sufferers, forcing patients to rely on painkillers to manage symptoms and exposing them to harmful side effects. Fortunately, recent medical research points to marijuana as a potential solution.
Here’s how weed can ease stiff joints and help prevent bone weakness:
Cannabis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is first and foremost an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body attacks itself rather than fending off bacterial and viral invaders. RA is quite painful, causing excessive inflammation as your immune system continues to break down the soft tissues in your joints and surrounding your bones.
Marijuana can help. One 2013 study published in Rheumatology discovered something fascinating about the types of cells found in RA patients: patients with RA had more CB2 cannabinoid receptors on their cells than those suffering from other forms of arthritis.
The CB2 receptor is one of two primary cannabinoid receptors in your body. These receptors are binding sites for the active compounds found in the cannabis plant, such as THC and CBD. When THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids bind to these cell sites, the compounds spur changes in your body.
In the case of RA, marijuana acts as a strong anti-inflammatory, reducing pain by activating the CB2 receptors present both at pain sites, as well as throughout the rest of your body.
Tired of waking up with stiff, sore joints? Try rubbing on a little weed cream before bed, and once again as soon as you wake up to increase circulation and eliminate swelling.
Cannabis and Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis out there, affecting seniors and aging adults as joint cartilage is worn away slowly with age. Cannabis, it turns out, may help reduce bone and cartilage loss, while also encouraging new bone growth.
As early as 2005, scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany discovered that CB2 receptors may play a critical role in whether or not you develop bone weakness as you grow older. In the study, researchers monitored the bone dentistry of genetically engineered mice missing CB1 or CB2 receptors, and found that mice without these receptors were more likely to have bone weakness, a precursor to both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Further, mice without CB2 receptors showed accelerated age-related bone and cartilage deterioration in comparison to their CB1 deficient counterparts.
But that’s not all. A 2008 study hints that bone-forming cells express CB2 receptors, and actually secrete CB2 binding anandamide, a compound naturally produced by our bodies which utilizes the same cell receptors as our good friend THC.
So, what does all this mean? While more research is desperately needed to pinpoint exactly what part cannabis and the endocannabinoid system can play in arthritis treatment, we have discovered that the active components in cannabis seem to positively interact with our biological bone-building process.
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