CBD For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Kimberly is a health and wellness writer with 8 years of experience in healthcare and a special passion for mental health awareness.
Scott J. Zashin, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and rheumatology. He was a volunteer clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School Dallas.
As cannabidiol (CBD) has grown in popularity over the years, major organizations like the Arthritis Foundation have released guidelines pertaining to its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis. The CBD in most products is extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis that only has traces (up to 0.3%) of THC, the active compound that gets people high. Studies have shown CBD can help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, which may also reduce inflammation.
CBD comes in different forms, including oil, vape, edible, and topical. Oils, vapes, and edibles are taken orally, while topical CBD lotions can be applied to the skin. CBD dosage varies depending on the form, the indication, and other treatments being used.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
RA is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body and causes inflammation. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees, causing the joint lining to become inflamed and damaging the tissue. This causes chronic joint pain and leads to deformity. RA can also affect other tissues throughout the body, such as the lungs, heart, and eyes.
Vera Livchak / Getty Images
” data-caption=”” data-expand=”300″ data-tracking-container=”true” />
Vera Livchak / Getty Images
Health Benefits of CBD for RA
Animal studies have suggested that CBD has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, but these effects have not been validated with quality studies in humans. Anecdotally, some people who have tried CBD for treatment of arthritis symptoms report noticeable pain relief, improved sleep improvement, and reduced anxiety.
The trials that have been conducted in humans have not yielded strong evidence for the use of CBD in managing arthritic pain.
- A randomized trial of topical CBD for treatment of knee osteoarthritis lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed.
- One of the largest reviews examining the health effects of cannabis and CBD concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. There was, however, no specific conclusion regarding CBD, as definitive studies were not available.
- More recently, a new study showed that CBD can potentially help alleviate RA pain and inflammation by acting on immune cells that are attacking healthy cells in the body. It’s important to note that this study was also not conducted with human subjects.
Research in this area is ongoing.
If you are interested in trying CBD for RA pain management, be sure to talk to your doctor first before using any CBD products.
Rising Popularity of CBD for RA
Based on a 2019 national survey of 2,600 people conducted by the Arthritis Foundation, 79% of respondents said they were using CBD, have used it in the past, or were considering using it to help with their arthritis pain.
Health Benefits Related to Arthritis
Given the lack of strong scientific evidence supporting the use of CBD, it is not recommended as the first choice for pain relief in RA.
If you have RA, you should not stop taking your prescribed medications that may be protecting your joints from future damage. You should discuss any changes you want to make to your medication regimen with your doctor.
Additional Health Benefits
The strongest scientific evidence for effectiveness of CBD as a medical treatment is for seizure prevention in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which are severe childhood epilepsy disorders that typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. Several years ago, the FDA approved the first cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.
Other potential health benefits of CBD include:
- Reduce anxiety, insomnia, and depression
- Relieve cancer or cancer treatment symptoms
- Clear acne
- Slow the progress of neurologic disease like Alzheimer’s disease
Possible Side Effects
Treatment with CBD should be started slowly and under the supervision of a doctor, who will oversee its effectiveness and side effects. There have been reports of mild side effects of CBD.
The most common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Appetite changes
It’s important to note that CBD may interact with other drugs, including some of the medications that are prescribed for the treatment of RA.
Warnings and Interactions
There are some warnings and adverse drug interactions to be aware of before beginning using CBD for management of RA-associated pain.
Do not stop taking any other treatments without consulting your doctor. Additionally, CBD shouldn’t be a replacement for other therapies you are using.
Pregnant people and children should consult a doctor before using CBD since there isn’t enough research on the effects of CBD on these populations. There has been concern about a possible link between inhaled cannabis and lower-birthweight babies, but it’s not clear if this applies to CBD.
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the safety and purity of CBD products, so you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. The product may contain other unknown elements. The most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition has not been established.
Are CBD Products Legal?
CBD products derived from hemp are no longer considered schedule I drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but they still remain in a legal gray zone. There are changes underway on federal and state levels that will ultimately clarify the laws and regulations related to CBD-based products and sales. Despite that, they’re widely available in nearly every state and online. People who want to use CBD should check their own state laws.
Studies have found moderate interactions between CBD and medications commonly prescribed for treating RA.
Interactions can occur with these medications:
- Some antidepressants, including amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, mirtazapine, paroxetine, and sertraline
- Some medications used for treating fibromyalgia, including gabapentin and pregabalin
CBD can increase your level of coumadin, a blood thinner.
CBD may also raise levels of other medications in your blood by the same mechanism that grapefruit juice does.
Medications that interact with grapefruit juice can potentially interact with CBD, including:
- Cholesterol medications
- High blood pressure medications
- Organ-rejection medications
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Heart medications
- Some antihistamines
Preparation and Dosage
If you’ve decided to try CBD for treating your RA pain, the next step is figuring out how much to take.
Your dosage depends on a number of factors:
- Body weight
- Medical indication
- The concentration and form of CBD that you’re taking
You will likely need to start with a low dose and find what works for you. Studies have found extreme differences in dosages, with some people using 5 milligrams (mg) and others as much as 600 mg.
Your healthcare provider may direct you to start with 20-40 mg per day and increase slowly each day until you feel the relief you’re looking for.
To ensure that you are using CBD safely and effectively for pain management, you should:
- Choose an oral treatment (rather than inhaled products) and start with a low dose
- Establish initial goals of treatment within a realistic period of time. For example, a reduction in knee pain that allows you to walk around the block within two weeks of starting treatment; later, if improved, the goals can be adjusted
- Tell your doctor(s) about your planned and current CBD treatment; monitor your pain and adjust medications with your medical providers, rather than with non-medical practitioners
- When preparing to take a liquid form, be aware that the CBD extract is mixed with a carrier oil, so there are two measures to know: the amount of the liquid product to take (the dose) and the amount of CBD in each dose
If CBD alone doesn’t work and you are in a state where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, you could consider talking to your doctor about taking CBD with a very low-dose THC product. Be aware that even at low levels, THC may make you feel high, resulting in cognitive, motor, and balance impairment.
If you experience any unwanted side effects when using a CBD product, immediately discontinue use and inform your doctor.
What To Look For
Look for the following when choosing a CBD product:
- Look for products manufactured in the United States with ingredients grown domestically
- Choose products made by companies that follow good manufacturing practices established by the FDA for pharmaceuticals or dietary supplements or required by the state where they are manufactured
- Buy from companies that test each batch and provide a certificate of analysis from an independent lab that uses validated standardized testing methods approved by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), or the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC)
- Avoid companies that claim their products have disease benefits
- Be aware that marketers and people behind retail counters are not health professionals. Your doctor is your best source for guidance and monitoring when using an unregulated product
A Word From Verywell
CBD may sound like an appealing option for pain relief, but do your due diligence before jumping on the bandwagon. A lot of people say CBD can help reduce pain and inflammation for those with RA, but not a lot of strong scientific data have substantiated that claim. That said, serious effects are not commonly associated with CBD use.
If this is something you are interested in, you can work with your doctor to figure out whether CBD is something you can try safely. Remember that CBD should not be used as a first-line treatment for RA pain and that it’s not advisable to stop taking disease-modifying treatments for RA.
Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, may help to relieve pain and joint stiffness in people with RA. Here’s what you need to know.
How to Use CBD Oil for Arthritis
Posted on July 8th, 2020
Arthritis involves joint-related symptoms that reduce mobility and bring on pain and stiffness . This condition can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life, making it difficult to move around and complete even simple tasks.
While traditional medicine has come a long way for arthritic patients, it’s important to understand the potential value of natural solutions such as CBD oil.
CBD oil is heralded for its anecdotal success in reducing arthritis symptoms. So, today, we’ll provide a deeper look into CBD oil, how it works, and how to use it the right way if you hope to address arthritis symptoms.
What Is CBD Oil for Arthritis?
Let’s begin by analyzing the nuances of CBD oil and why it may work well for targeting arthritis. CBD oil refers to cannabidiol, which is sourced from the cannabis plan t. This is an active compound noted for a long list of potential health-related benefits.
Many people worry that CBD will get you “high”, but this cannabis compound can’t stimulate any psychoactive effects. That’s because we extract CBD oil from the hemp plant, which contains amounts of THC (the compound which can get you “high”) concentrations below 0.3%.
Research studies completed on animals suggest that CBD may work well with arthritis symptoms. Findings show tremendous improvements in how arthritic animals move, and the amount of inflammation in their joints, after using CBD. This suggests the viability of CBD oil for use by humans with arthritis, although more research is necessary.
For now, we mainly rely on reports from people who try CBD for themselves. And, from what we hear, taking CBD helps people with arthritis see a positive change in how well they sleep and how much ache they have to deal with daily.
Now, before using CBD oil, you should always speak to your doctor. This is especially true if you have an underlying medical condition or are taking prescription arthritis medications, including paroxetine, tramadol, celecoxib, naproxen, pregabalin, and/or gabapentin.
How to Use CBD Oil for Arthritis
Once your healthcare provider clears you for CBD use, it’s time to dig deeper and understand how you should optimize your CBD oil use.
Choose the Right CBD Oil
The first thing you are going to do is find the right type of CBD oil. This is where quality matters. When you shop at a reputable CBD store like Tanasi, you know your CBD oil is sourced from high-quality hemp plants, with the right amount of CBD to deliver great results. And you know this because we conduct third-party testing and provide a certificate of analysis for every CBD product we sell.
Now, the reason this kind of transparency is so important is because this ensures that you get an appropriate CBD dose with every use. Inconsistencies in your dose or CBD concentration can detract from your experience and may not yield the results necessary to see an improvement in your arthritis symptoms.
During the selection process make sure to understand the CBD oil’s sourcing process and suggested efficacy.
Of course, aside from selecting the right concentration, you’ll also need to pick that perfect form of CBD. These include balms, lotions, oils, and creams. While you could choose to ingest your CBD in the form of a capsule or tincture, choosing a topical form of CBD is better when targeting symptoms of arthritis.
Why is that the case? When you topically apply CBD oil, your skin absorbs the active ingredients, allowing CBD to enter your bloodstream faster and deliver faster effects. For the average person, topical CBD starts working in no longer than 10 minutes.
For the optimal experience, start with a lower CBD dose.
It’s better to get a feel for how the CBD oil is going to impact your body rather than going all-in. This is a common mistake made by CBD newbies, who don’t yet know how their body will react to this powerful cannabinoid.
To avoid unwanted results, we recommend starting with a dose as low as 5-10 mg.
This will allow your body to adjust to CBD oil. If you achieve your desired results at this dose, great! Stay right there. If you want to see more noticeable effects, you can gradually increase your dose over the course of several days, allowing a few days between any dose increase.
By following this method, it will be easier to see consistent change and note what CBD dose delivers an improvement in your arthritis symptoms.
Keep in mind, most people will need to take more than that initial low dose of CBD to see results.
We typically find people with arthritis symptoms may need around 20-35 mg per day to hit that sweet spot for good results. Of course, everyone has a unique reaction to the CBD and some are going to need less than this to see a change. If that is you, it is okay to keep it at that lower dose until a change is needed.
Time of Day
As for when you take your CBD, that choice is mostly based on personal preference.
Some people prefer to take their full daily dose of CBD in the morning to properly get started with their day. Others split up CBD doses between morning, afternoon, and night, to extend their periods of relief. There is nothing wrong with any of these methods and it comes down to what you want during the 24-hour cycle.
As with any supplement, however, it’s essential that you continue to monitor how your body feels while using CBD. If you start noticing any type of decline, speak to your doctor about your dosing regimen.
CBD oil may help alleviate your arthritis symptoms, calming your joints, and helping improve your quality of life.
While you can reduce arthritis-related symptoms with strong, chemical-based medications, many prefer to work with plant-based supplements. This is why more and more people are turning to CBD oil for arthritis symptom relief.
Traditional medicine has come a long way for arthritic patients. Let's also explore more natural methods and how to use CBD oil for arthritis.