CBD for arthritis and inflammatory conditions
Flora Fusion does not make any medical claim about its products and cannot advise you on which CBD product(s) to use for any medical condition(s). Make sure you do your research and consult a trained medical professional, or your GP before using any CBD supplements.
Arthritis affects millions of people in the UK and is generally a painful condition affecting the joints. However, there are many different arthritic conditions caused by inflammation and immune system issues. Arthritis and other related illnesses can cause debilitating and life-altering pain. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, more than a third of all adults with arthritis say that it limits their daily activities and 25% say that they have severe pain – a rating of seven or higher, on a scale of 0 to 10. It is clear that arthritis has a huge impact on people’s quality of life.
In this blog post, we discuss the ways in which CBD might have an impact on the lives of those suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Types of arthritis
This is the most common form of arthritis caused by the protective layer of cartilage inside your joint breaking down. Eventually, this can mean that your bones rub directly against one another which causes extreme pain and limited or no mobility. Osteoarthritis is localised around the joints and usually affects the cartilage, bone, synovium and ligaments.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
This is an inflammatory condition where the immune system starts to attack the body, causing inflammation and pain. The condition usually affects the joints, causing arthritis, enthesitis and skin conditions like psoriasis. Not only does this condition cause painful movement, but it also can cause severe itching. It can be embarrassing if it’s visible or has caused hair loss.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
This is one of the less understood arthritic conditions. It is a condition that, like psoriatic arthritis, causes the body to attack its own immune system. As the immune system is responsible for protecting a person from viruses, bacteria and other invaders. This means RA sufferers become more vulnerable to infections. The condition can have a heavy impact on general health. It attacks the synovium which triggers persistent inflammation and breaks down the joint, damaging it permanently. Unlike OA, which is localised to a specific joint or area, RA affects the whole body. It can limit movement and cause pain throughout the whole body. This means that a person may be in constant pain even without moving.
RA is a degenerative illness which means that the condition worsens over time. As those with RA know, the stages of treatment get progressively more aggressive and can have long-term effects on your health (particularly stomach, heart, kidney and liver health). Doctors tend to combine potent painkillers with anti-inflammatory medication to help manage the condition as there is no cure for this type of disease.
Complications can include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (Numbness, pain and loss of movement orpower in the hands and limbs)
- Inflammation of other areas of the body (such as the lungs, heart and eyes)
- An increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
CBD for arthritis and inflammation
Many health benefits are attributed to cannabinoids. CBD, in particular, is understood to be an excellent anti-inflammatory. It interacts with your endocannabinoid system and acts as a sedative and powerful anti-oxidant. It also helps to regulate your body’s inflammatory response. Cannabinoids such as CBD are understood to help with your basic bodily functions and induce homeostasis, or balance, as part of your body’s repair system. This is why CBD is often used during chemotherapy and is associated with helping to reduce the symptoms of arthritic conditions.
CBD plays a role in the regulation of pain. Although the majority of the information that can be found is anecdotal, it is believed that CBD can help manage chronic pain conditions. One study posted to Neurotherapeutics suggests that CBD actually does very little to directly regulate pain. Instead, it either activates or inhibits other compounds found in the endocannabinoid system.
In the case of PsA, some cannabinoids have been proven to reduce both the itching and appearance of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and could be a good supplement to work in tandem with other more conventional medications. The CBD is often applied topically to the affected areas and has been proven to improve the quality of life for those that suffer from debilitating, embarrassing and painful skin conditions. When taken orally, CBD can have a general affect on your body’s autoimmune response and can help reduce inflammation in sore joints.
In the case of RA, the patient will not only have a lowered immune system but will also suffer from the inflammation, pain and lack of mobility that sufferers of OA and PsA experience. CBD interacts with the CB2 in our endocannabinoid systems and could help to boost a lowered resistance to unfriendly bacteria and viruses.
It will also help to reduce the inflammatory response from your body and significantly reduce pain alongside giving patients a better sleeping pattern (sufferers often struggle with sleep because of pain and morning stiffness). Better news still, CBD has been seen to slow down, or even stop the progression of RA. See the study for further information.
CBD has been shown to help reduce the symptoms and can be used as a supplement for pain medication, alongside conventional pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications.
CBD with pain killers
Some strong painkillers have long-term side effects including liver and kidney damage, stomach irritation, severe nausea and addiction. CBD is a known sedative and natural painkiller but can it be combined with other pain medication?
Most pharmaceutical drugs are metabolised by cytochrome P450 complex enzymes in the liver. As CBD absorption tends to take a lot of processing power other drugs don’t always metabolise as expected. Preliminary studies have found that CBD may increase the concentration of other drugs in the bloodstream which may make these medications more potent than expected. This can cause adverse side effects. However, if this process were to be further understood and if medications were tailored alongside CBD use, the impact could be positive. There is limited research on this subject, but it is entirely possible that using too much CBD could result in toxic levels of other medications in the bloodstream. For instance, anticoagulant drugs also use the p450 metabolic system, and if taken with CBD, increased serum levels could prove fatal.
Painkillers should only be taken with CBD using extreme caution. Speak to your GP before combining any pain medications with CBD oil. In theory, however, CBD can be used in pain management and could reduce the doeage of pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD and Naproxen
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treat pain and inflammation. Unlike analgesics, these drugs can also help to prevent joint damage. They are the most common form of medication as they come in both oral and topical form and do not have sedative side effects. These medications include aspirin, Ibuprofen (which affects some asthma sufferers) and Naproxen.
Most NSAIDs have negative side effects such as:
- Stomach irritation, erosion, or ulcers (can lead to stomach bleeding and death)
- Kidney problems
Naproxen is one of the more potent medications for those suffering from advanced arthritic conditions. It is associated with a number of side effects alongside those listed above:
- stomach pain
In higher dosages Naproxen is not compatible with some other medications. Naproxen and CBD users need to be aware that the wrong combination of medication can cause damage to the liver.
Stevia Corp has recently filed for the use of a combination of CBD and prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. The theory is that if you can reduce the dosage of pharmaceutical drugs that may be harmful and substitute with CBD (which has not been found to have any adverse effects) the lifestyle of the patient will be improved. These medications do not have a conflict with CBD, but on the contrary can work alongside it.
“We believe that there will be significant advantages of using these four very effective drugs in combination with cannabidiol as opposed to using these drugs alone. Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin ….We strongly believe that our intellectual property strategy, if successfully implemented, will provide us a competitive advantage over other healthcare companies using cannabinoids for human healthcare,” commented George Blankenbaker, President of Stevia Corp.
Once again, please do not use CBD products without consulting a GP beforehand.
Speak to your GP before taking CBD supplements
Always consult your specialist or GP before trying CBD products in tandem with any other medication associated with arthritis. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that arthritis patients have been helped by using CBD, there are many variations in the way certain drugs work. You may have a different reaction to another person. It is certainly not advised to use CBD products alongside an immunosuppressant as potent as Methotrexate Minocin, Azulfidine, or Plaquenil (used by PsA and RA sufferers) without speaking to a medical professional. Methotrexate is notorious for leaving RA sufferers vulnerable to infections and not working well with lots of medications.
Unfortunately, there are few studies giving categorical scientific evidence on the impact of CBD while using prescription pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, we cannot predict for certain the impact CBD might have on medications.