According to common statistics, there are more than 31 million Americans who suffer from arthritis, which comes in two varieties that both cause pain, swelling, and limited movements to the joints.
The Two Types of Arthritis
The two different types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by the malfunctioning of the patient's immune system, and osteoarthritis (arthritis of the bones) which is found mostly in elderly patients whose cartilage has been eroded through use. Both types may Arthritis may also manifest itself in the form of chronic joint inflammation, generally due to injuries.
Cannabis and Arthritis
There has been a lot of research which shows that cannabis and cannabinoid drugs may be effective for arthritis, as well as for other degenerative joint, hip, and connective tissue disorders. Since all of these conditions involve frequent bouts of extreme pain, the ability of cannabis to help fight chronic pain makes it especially useful, either on its own or used in conjuction with opiate painkillers. In fact, the use of marijuana as a treatment for musclo-skeletal pain has been a documented part of western medicine since the 1700s.
In addition to pain-relieving qualities, however, cannabis also has strong anti-inflammatory and immune-modulation properties which mean that it might be a valid form of direct treatment for any number of chronic inflammatory diseases (including arthritis). More than one source shows that a Chinese text dating from around the year 2000 BC mentions cannabis "undoing" rheumatism.
Contemporary research on one of the non-psychoactive components of cannabis, CBD (cannabidiol) has found that, in tests with mice and rats, it suppresses the immune response that triggers a disease which is similar to arthritis, protecting the rodents from severe joint damage, and improving their conditions.
Human studies have backed up the data from the rodent trials, showing that cannabis is an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, which is one of the conditions for which medical marijuana is allowed in those parts of the United States where it's use is legal. In addition, patients using cannabis have been able to reduce their use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) , which have potentially harmful side effects.
The bottom line? Medical marijuana may be a benefit to arthritis patients because:
- It relieves the pain associated with swollen joints and eroded cartilage.
- It attacks the immune response that actually triggers arthritis.
- It relieves the inflammation - the actual swelling - of arthritic joints
- Unlike NSAIDs, it has no potentially harmful side effects
- It has a long track record of being safe; no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose.