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CBD for Arthritis: Everything You Need to Know

CBD is an alternative treatment for arthritis that is quickly gaining popularity…and for a good reason.

Mar 7, 2018 - Michelle Janikian

OCTOBER 7, 2014. LAGUNA WOODS, CA. Benji Johnson, age 62 rolls a marijuana cigarette in her home in
OCTOBER 7, 2014. LAGUNA WOODS, CA. Benji Johnson, age 62 rolls a marijuana cigarette in her home in Laguna Woods, CA on Oct 7, 2914. She says she smokes to releive discomfort from breast cancer chemotherapy treatment and to lessen arthritis pain in her back. (Photo by Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

OCTOBER 7, 2014. LAGUNA WOODS, CA. Benji Johnson, age 62 rolls a marijuana cigarette in her home in
OCTOBER 7, 2014. LAGUNA WOODS, CA. Benji Johnson, age 62 rolls a marijuana cigarette in her home in Laguna Woods, CA on Oct 7, 2914. She says she smokes to releive discomfort from breast cancer chemotherapy treatment and to lessen arthritis pain in her back. (Photo by Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

CBD for arthritis is becoming a popular treatment option for the 52.5 million Americans affected by the chronic pain condition. Whether it be Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid, we’ve broken down how CBD for arthritis can help with pain, inflammation, and overall quality of life.

What is CBD?

CBD is one of more than 80 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Another famous cannabinoid is THC. But, unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and so won’t get users “high.” Basically, CBD is all the medical benefits of cannabis without the head high, making it a natural treatment alternative for all kinds of people.

Afraid CBD for arthritis isn’t an option for you because you live in a state where cannabis is legal? Not to worry. CBD derived from industrial hemp plants with 0.3% of THC or less is legal to ship to all 50 states. Read more on the legality of CBD here.

34590718954 ab768f36fa o The United Nations just warned member states to keep recreational cannabis illegal
Photo by lets vapeandsmoke/ Via Flickr

Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis: What’s the Difference?

There are over 100 different types of arthritis, including Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis, and it’s one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S. But, luckily, CBD can help with both.

Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disorder that affects people of all ages. The immune system attacks the body thinking it’s fighting bacteria and virus but ends up breaking down soft tissue in the joints and surrounding the bones. This also causes serious inflammation that leads to tissue deterioration, scarring, and pain.

GettyImages 167068985 The United Nations just warned member states to keep recreational cannabis illegal
Photo by: Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

Osteoarthritis is a bit different. Osteoarthritis isn’t an autoimmune disease, but rather, the effect of aging and living a very active life. It’s the most common form of arthritis and often affects seniors and aging adults. Other factors can also cause osteoarthritis, such as past injury, obesity, genetics, and constant overuse.

In Osteoarthritis, the cartilage that protects joints and bones wears away slowly over time. It’s a degenerative disease that gets worse with age and causes symptoms like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Stiffness
  • Grinding sensation in joints
  • Tenderness
  • Bone spurs
  • Loss of flexibility

How CBD for Arthritis Works

The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is what makes CBD for arthritis so effective. The ECS is the body’s largest regulatory system. Mammals have natural endocannabinoids and receptors all over the body, including in the brain, organs, glands, and immune cells. Its complex interaction with our bodies’ immune system is key. Cannabinoids produced naturally by the body minimize pain and inflammation near injured sites. Therefore, it’s not surprising that CBD for arthritis works in the same way. CBD binds to the bodies’ natural endocannabinoid receptors to basically supplement the body’s own natural response.

A 2003 study looked at the effects of CBD on rodents that were given a “pro-inflammatory” compound meant to mimic arthritis. When the animals were also given CBD orally, it was found to decrease inflammation.

What’s more, a 2010 clinical trial that looked at smoked cannabis for neuropathic pain found similar results. Subjects were given a single puff of cannabis with 9.4% of THC three times a day, and researchers discovered the microdose reduced pain intensity and improved sleep. This suggests that smoking cannabis is also beneficial for treating arthritis.

Arthritis not only causes pain, it can cause other related symptoms as well, such as:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Fatigue

But that’s another way CBD for arthritis can help. CBD is also proven to help people relax and fall asleep, improve GI health and increase appetite, plus, there are even daytime CBD products that can help with fatigue.

How are People Using CBD for Arthritis?

There are a lot of options when considering CBD for arthritis, such as cannabis topicals, CBD oil, CBD capsules, and smoking and vaping strains high in CBD. How to choose which is right for you?

Herb spoke with Kathleen May, a 45-year-old woman with arthritis who uses CBD oil and a CBD topical that she absolutely swears by.

“I am a runner and I used to play soccer up until I had ACL surgery approximately 10 years ago,” May says. “My right knee was always sore after I worked out. I would ice and take ibuprofen, but nothing ever really seemed to make my knee feel better. Approximately 4 years ago my other knee started giving me problems. Nothing torn and X-rays looked good, but always sore, even when walking down stairs. I live in Wisconsin so the only products available to me legally are CBD hemp products. Within 3 months of using CBD oil my knees felt amazing! I was dealing with some other joint issues as well, and the CBD took care of the pain associated with those issues too.”

May explained how she stopped taking CBD while she was researching other products to try, and you might be able to guess what happened.

“Within a week of ceasing use of CBD the knee that I had ACL surgery on blew up to the size of a grapefruit. I was in so much pain that I could not even WALK on a treadmill. Between November and December, I went to see my knee doctor three times. He indicated that I was dealing with arthritis in my knee, and most likely in my wrists and elbows (I was also experiencing pain in those areas, but the knee was the worst).”

May’s doctor prescribed her oral steroids to help with the pain. She was still off CBD.

“The steroids helped a bit with the pain, but the swelling in my knee was not decreasing,” says May. “I still could not run, and I could barely handle yoga.”

Then, her massage therapist recommended a CBD topical made by Fab CBD. It changed her life. She told Herb she also tried their CBD oil.

Screen Shot 2017 10 08 at 11 The United Nations just warned member states to keep recreational cannabis illegal
Photo courtesy of fabcbd.com

“It was amazing,” says May. “I am not exaggerating when I say within days of using the oil the swelling in my knee went down, and along with that my pain became tolerable. I ran for the first time since October last week. I thought for sure I was going to be in extreme pain after, but minor discomfort for a couple of days was all I experienced.”

For May, and many others, taking CBD oil orally as well as applying CBD topical cream to painful joints drastically improved the quality of their lives. May told Herb, without CBD she couldn’t run at all and had extreme pain when walking down stairs, bending, putting pressure on her knees, and doing other exercise like yoga and planks. Now, with the help of CBD for arthritis, she’s able to live her life and even go running again.

CBD for Arthritis Products to Check Out

When buying CBD online, it’s important to check that it’s been tested by a third party lab. This ensures safety as well as quality.

Those who don’t live in legal cannabis states can still order CBD-only products legally. Check out brands like Green Roads World for CBD oils, capsules, and edibles.

If you’re specifically interested in trying a cannabis topical for pain, check out Herb’s list of 10 cannabis topicals designed for chronic pain management.

For those who do live in states where adult use or medical cannabis is legal, you’ve got a lot more options. Products and strains with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio seem to be best for pain relief. Some cool brands that use the 1:1 ratio to check out include:

Some people prefer vaping for fast acting pain relief, and that’s okay too! Select CBD makes great vape pens without THC so they can be shipped to all 50 states. Plus, check out Herb’s full coverage on the 10 best vape pens for chronic pain here.

Cannabis and CBD for arthritis are gaining popularity for good reason – it works! Not to mention, CBD is less harmful to the body than taking NSAIDS, like Tylenol, or prescription pain painkillers, like opioids. Let us know how CBD for arthritis works for you in the comments below!


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