The use of cannabis to relieve arthritis pain has been supported by anecdotal evidence and animal studies. The cannabinoid CBD, short for cannabidiol, is an active compound found in the cannabis plant that has anti-inflammatory effects that could reduce arthritis pain. CBD does not cause an intoxicating feeling, but research suggests that it may help ease symptoms of arthritis. CBD is extracted from hemp, a cannabis strain that has only traces (up to 0.3%) of THC, the active compound that causes people to get high.
THC is responsible for the “high” that people get with marijuana, which may also play a role in relieving pain. If you're interested in trying CBD or THC to control pain, talk to your doctor and experiment to see if CBD or THC (or both) ease the pain a little. CBD and THC activate different cannabinoid receptors in the body that can stimulate or inhibit brain chemicals and cause certain effects. THC is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, that feeling of euphoria or of being “high”.
It can cause drowsiness and lethargy, increased appetite, increased heart rate, coordination problems, dry mouth, red eyes, slower reaction times, memory loss, anxiety and mood changes. The Arthritis Foundation has created a free course on the health effects of THC and CBD, created by Dr. Kent Hutchison, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It is recommended to purchase cannabis edibles through a federally regulated medical cannabis channel.
The Arthritis Foundation's Guide to CBD for Adults with Arthritis provides information and can be used as a starting point for a conversation with your doctor. CBD is thought to have the potential to interact with some medications commonly taken by people with arthritis. Dr. Daniel Clauw, professor of anesthesiology, rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan and director of the Center for Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research, leads research on arthritis and fibromyalgia pain, and the effects of cannabis, especially CBD, on pain. CBD is not “psychoactive” like THC, meaning it doesn't cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use.
Some people may live in states where THC is illegal, while others simply don't want the substance's psychoactive effects. If you are considering consuming cannabis edibles to help relieve arthritis pain, it is important to consult your doctor first and be aware of potential side effects. The National Conference on Juvenile Arthritis is a great place for families to connect, share and learn about this condition.