Can CBD oil help arthritis?

Monday September 13, 2021

In the UK, approximately 10 million people have arthritis, so can CBD oil help with arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, tenderness, inflammation and stiffness; and muscle weakness and wasting around affected joints. The pain of arthritis can lead to sleepless nights, moving less, anxiety and depression – all of which are shown to exacerbate pain.

More and more people are turning to CBD oil for help with their arthritis pain. The Arthritis Foundation poll found that 29% of respondents were currently using CBD and nearly 80% were either using it, had used it, or were considering it.

Is CBD Effective for Arthritis Pain?
Arthritis treatment, whether with CBD Oil or more conventional pharmaceuticals, is aimed at reducing pain and stiffness and maintaining physical function.

The Arthritis Foundation poll found that most of those currently taking CBD reported improvement in physical function, sleep, and well-being. Laboratory studies suggest CBD might be a promising approach for treating chronic pain and animal studies show anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. However, there is currently not enough clinical research into using cannabinoids in reducing musculoskeletal pain in humans and further research is needed.

CBD for Arthritis-Associated Depression, Anxiety & Fatigue?
Two separate UK studies in 2017 found that 30 – 39%% of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis developed depression within 5 years of diagnosis. One of these studies also showed that around 20% of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis experienced anxiety. There is abundant evidence that anxiety and depression worsen pain or make it more difficult to manage pain.

These results are not surprising; pain causes stress, and stress causes a release of chemicals that make it harder to sleep. Lack of sleep causes the experience of pain and of stress to increase. This creates a cycle of pain-stress-sleeplessness-more pain. This is why pain clinics focus on reducing anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness when working with patients.

A 2019 study reported evidence that CBD can be an effective treatment for anxiety. A 2015 study study found that “existing preclinical evidence strongly supports the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders.” A Permanente Journal published study reported that 79% of participants experienced a reduction in anxiety when taking CBD.

With regards to depression, a 2019 animal study found that CBD has a fast and sustained antidepressant-like effect. Authors of a 2018 review of studies noted that many animal studies showed CBD to reduce stress and depression. More research is needed in humans, but so far the studies are promising.

There isn’t sufficient research yet, but it might be the case that the reduction in reported pain by those using CBD oil for arthritis might be gaining the benefit from the CBD reducing anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.

CBD for Arthritis – Key Points
We are still in the early days of researching whether and how CBD oil can help with arthritis. There is promising evidence from animal studies and from anecdotal evidence.

It is important to remember that CBD is not a substitute for prescribed disease-modifying treatments for arthritis and that anyone interested in trying CBD should first talk to the medical professional treating their arthritis. This is especially important because CBD is not suitable for use with some medications.

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