Arthritis. My English teacher always told me to look for the clues within words. ITIS for instance refers to inflammation. There are different kinds of arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, characterized by serious inflammation of a joint’s interior lining, and there is osteoarthritis characterized by loss of cartilage in the joints. Both deal with ‘itis’ …inflammation.
Arthritis appears to be one of the earliest illnesses for which cannabis was employed as treatment (certainly in England by 50 CE for restoring the “softness in joints”). Separately and together, THC and CBD, as well as terpenes found in cannabis, reduce the cytokine activity that is believed to be responsible for the deterioration of joint tissue in arthritis.
But how does this work?
Let’s take a quick overview of our body’s endocannabinoid system. Receptors for Cannabis’ cannabinoids are located throughout our nervous system and immune system. There are two types of receptors. CB1 receptors for THC are found mostly in the brain and change the perception of pain (like morphine would but without the dangers of opiates), and CB2 receptors for CBD are found mostly in the immune system that act as an analgesic and reduce inflammation.
As it happens, CB2 receptors are found in unusually high levels in the joint tissue of arthritic patients. The use of cannabis is shown to fight inflammation and pain in the joints by activating the pathways of the CB2 receptors. So, if you don’t like feeling ‘high’ from THC, you can still help to alleviate arthritic symptoms through the use of non-psychoactive CBD. If the pain is high or sleep is an issue, look into maybe adding THC slowly and methodically.
The largest segment of the population switching or adding medical cannabis to their pain and inflammation treatment are 55-64 year olds. This growing segment is looking for ways to control their aches and pains while enhancing, not detracting from, their lifestyles.
Sarah, 58, a NHS patient who was looking to wean off her arthritis medications wrote to us with her life changes. “I feel like I’ve been given a second chance to live my life. After years of pain I finally got to the point of desperation to take the steps I did with diet and cannabis. Looking back, what I thought of as desperate steps were really just managing my health in a proactive way. Compared to all the pain I was in, it’s not a hardship following this lifestyle regime. Beyond cutting down on gluten and wheat and sugar, I take 0.5 mLs of CBD oil twice a day to control pain and inflammation. I also vape a hybrid with some THC in the evenings so I can be more active after dinner.” Sarah knew little about cannabis when she visited NHS. With a little guidance, and in a matter of months, she was able to determine the dose, strains, and ingestion methods that would best suit her individual needs.
Cannabis strains that may help treat arthritis symptoms are many and varied. It’s always advisable to see how your unique biochemistry reacts with varying strains. Indicas, sativas and hybrids are all contenders, as is strictly CBD to balanced blends to higher THC levels. Most important is that you experiment first with small doses and take notes.
As always, methods of ingestion need to be considered when introducing cannabis into your pain and inflammation protocol.
- Ingestible oils are discreet and easy to titrate and can last for 6-8 hours at a time.
- Vaporized dried flower (using a vape) has a quicker onset, is not combusted and therefore not carcinogenic.
- OR, you can purchase capsules through LP’s like MedReleaf, or make your own capsules through Hydropothecary’s encapsulator and decarbed milled flower.
This may all sound rather daunting, but small steps will allow you to make progress, and take control of your health and wellbeing.
We can help.
Join us Wednesday evenings 6:30-7:30 PM MST for our Education Events at our Education Centre, 5809 MacLeod Trail S. You can join us in-person or by phone / online.