Cannabis has been studied extensively for its potential to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Research has shown that the two main cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD, interact with the body's endocannabinoid receptors to reduce pain and improve sleep. While CBD and THC don't cure arthritis, they can go a long way in reducing pain, improving sleep and reducing inflammation throughout the body. The drugs Marinol and Syndrol, which contain a synthetic form of THC called dronabinol, are approved by the FDA to treat nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.
However, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about all medications before taking cannabis as a treatment for arthritis. Carolina Landolt-Marticorena, MD, PhD, rheumatologist at FRCPR Rheumatologist Summertree Medical Clinic Runnymede Healthcare Center, states that preliminary studies show that CBD and THC can also improve fracture healing in patients with arthritis, but more clinical trials need to be completed first. When taken in sufficient doses, THC has side effects that affect sensory processing, cognition and fine motor coordination. For this reason, it is recommended that people with arthritis start with CBD-dominant products and introduce THC in small amounts if needed.
This allows the patient to enjoy both the benefits of CBD and THC, while promoting efficacy by taking them together. In some trials, patients with arthritis took 10 mg of CBD and 10 mg of THC, the same proportion used in the pharmaceutical cannabinoid called Sativex, twice daily. CBD works to improve circulation, relieve inflammation and calm the nervous system, while THC works together with it to relieve pain and sedate for better sleep. For cannabis-infused foods, it's important to be careful and take small amounts with lower doses of THC, as the effects of edibles can be stronger than other types of cannabis and cause more pronounced side effects. CBD and THC can even be used to treat the side effects of your current medication by promoting weight loss, relieving anxiety and promoting better sleep. But unlike THC, CBD is not “psychoactive”, meaning it doesn't cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use.
While cannabis may not cure arthritis, it can be an effective treatment for reducing pain and inflammation associated with the condition.