By 2040, it is expected that more than 78.4 million adult Americans will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. It corresponds to 25.9% of the projected adult population in the country. Arthritis results in chronic and debilitating pain, which requires an effective management strategy.
The conservative and non-surgical treatments of arthritis include using anti-inflammatory medicines, pain relievers, physical therapy, and therapeutic injections. Over the years, several innovative approaches have become prevalent for pain management, and one of them is the use of CBD.
What does the current evidence say about the use of CBD for arthritis? Will it help older folks manage the pain and minimize the symptoms? Read on and learn from some of the insights we’ll share in this guide.
What Is CBD?
Knowing the essential things about CBD is fundamental to understanding how it can help older people in managing arthritis.
In a nutshell, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids or naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. What makes the cannabis plant controversial, however, is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive compound that gives that “high” sensation. It’s important to note, however, that most medical CBD products include only a maximum of 0.3% THC, so they will not give you that “high” feeling.
There is no evidence indicative that CBD is prone to abuse or dependence potential. Plus, no public health problems have been related to its use. If you have doubts, you can check actual user experience and reviews from online sources like Hinterland Co. Doing so will let you learn from the real-life experiences of other people, making it easier to decide if CBD is indeed right for you.
Despite the emergence of many CBD products in the market, note that there is only one currently approved by the FDA. It is for the treatment of a rare seizure disorder.
To date, experts are still investigating the effects of CBD on the body but very little is known. Despite the emergence of anecdotal evidence, high-quality scientific studies are still warranted to prove claims regarding the effectiveness of CBD in arthritis, especially among older people.
What Current Research Says
One of the most recent studies was published in the Journal of Cannabis Research. A group of participants was recruited through online methods, and they were given a survey to answer. Aside from the survey, literature reviews were also used by the researchers. Below are some of the main findings:
- 70% of the participants have tried using CBD for symptomatic relief of arthritis
- Most of the participants who used CBD are younger, although the studies also included respondents who are 58 years old and above
- Majority of the participants who used CBD noted an improvement in arthritis symptoms
- Reduction of pain, improvement of sleep quality, and improvement of physical function were noted by most participants
Another study from Cell Death and Disease also offers an interesting look at how CBD affects arthritis. It is small-scale research with only 40 patients with an average age of 66.9 to 67.8 years old. Nonetheless, below are some of the highlights of the findings:
- CBD increases calcium mobilization
- It reduces the production of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts, which is a major contributor to joint destruction
Meanwhile, one of the earliest trials involving the use of CBD for rheumatoid arthritis has also shown favorable results. The research involved 58 patients, who were given cannabis-based medicine over five weeks. Here is a summary of the results:
- There was a significant analgesic effect and suppression after the treatment
- The drug effectively reduced pain and inflammation
- Quality of sleep improved as well
- Most side effects are mild and did not have a huge impact on the quality of life
How to Use CBD for Arthritis
Photo by Crystal Weed Cannabis from Unsplash
Even if scientific research remains scarce, the results have been promising. As such, many are interested in trying CBD as an alternative treatment. We are in no position to recommend such, and consulting with the doctor is the best thing you can do.
Should you decide to try using CBD, however, there are some important things to remember. For instance, make sure that it is legal where you are from. Check state laws to be sure.
You have different options when it comes to how to use CBD. Below are some of the most popular:
- By Mouth: You can consume it in the form of CBD oil, capsules, or edibles, among others. When taken under the tongue, effects can start showing up within 15 to 45 minutes.
- Inhalation: Inhaling CBD via vaporizing is another common route of consumption. Nonetheless, since vaping has been associated with severe pulmonary diseases and widespread hospitalization, this is one thing that the elderly might want to avoid.
- On the Skin: Applying topical CBD through balms, lotions, and similar products is another possibility. You must apply it directly on the painful joint. Nonetheless, it is still unknown if it can deliver CBD under your skin.
It is also crucial to be careful, especially for the elderly who are taking other medications. Some drugs can have a possible interaction, including naproxen, tofacitinib, celecoxib, corticosteroids, and tramadol. So far, however, no significant safety concerns were linked to the use of CBD in moderate doses for treating arthritis.
In sum, several studies have examined the potential of CBD to deliver pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits against arthritis. Nonetheless, these studies are minimal, and hence, warrant further investigations.
Anecdotally, however, many people who have tried CBD are sharing positive effects, especially when it comes to pain management, improvement of sleep quality, and reduction of anxiety. Despite such, caution must be observed, especially for older folks. It is best to consult a doctor and follow professional recommendations on how you can best manage arthritis.