How CBD Can Help Treat Arthritis

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is widely used for its ability to relieve pain and anxiety. Some researchers have also found that it also improves sleep, reduces stress levels, and boosts mental focus, according to a recent survey featured in the Journal of Cannabis Research. As the scientists note, this compound is unlikely to cause addiction and has few or no side effects. In clinical trials, it has been shown effective for people with social anxiety, epilepsy, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and chronic pain.

This naturally occurring substance comes from the cannabis plant. What makes it stand out is its high safety profile and unique mechanism of action. Clinical evidence indicates that CBD can reduce oxidative stress and boost antioxidant levels, which in turn may hamper inflammation, according to the journal "Antioxidants." What's more, it may protect against cancer and improve the symptoms of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other health conditions.

If you have arthritis, you may be thinking about using CBD for pain relief. The question is, does it really work? And how much should you take to reap the benefits? 

Can CBD improve arthritis symptoms?

Arthritis impacts nearly one in four Americans of all ages, from teens to seniors. Depending on its severity, this disorder can cause debilitating joint pain and interfere with your daily life. You may find it difficult to work, exercise, or get out of bed. Medications can offer some relief, but they often carry serious side effects ranging from hives and skin boils to bone loss and heart failure, warns WebMD.

Given these risks, it's easy to understand why so many consumers turn to CBD. Unfortunately, there's not enough evidence to support its use in arthritis treatment. For example, a 2016 study published in the European Journal of Pain found that cannabidiol reduced joint swelling in mice when applied topically, but these findings may not apply to humans. Another study suggested that CBD may reduce the proliferation of arthritis synovial fibroblasts, a class of cells that contribute to joint damage and inflammation, reported the journal "Cell Death and Disease." The research was conducted in vitro, or outside a living organism, so further investigation is needed to confirm its results.

In a clinical trial, researchers asked 136 people with two common forms of arthritis to take either CBD or a placebo for three months. Both groups experienced similar levels of pain relief, but the effects were negligible. Based on these findings, it's hard to draw a conclusion regarding the efficacy of CBD in treating arthritis, explains the journal "Pain." 

Should you take CBD for arthritis pain?

CBD is generally well-tolerated and safe, but it may not work for everyone. So far, evidence suggests that it may reduce chronic pain and inflammation, decrease anxiety, and make it easier to fall asleep, notes Harvard Medical School. These findings, however, come largely from animal studies and may not apply to human models. Additionally, it's unclear what dosage should be used and for how long.

Based on previous studies, this compound may help reduce or eliminate the need for opioids, says Arthritis New South Wales. Plus, it has fewer side effects than opioid medications and other painkillers. In rare cases, it may cause nausea, vomiting, and other mild to moderate adverse reactions. Not all CBD supplements are created equal, though. Some products may contain fillers or delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound with psychoactive properties.

Your best bet is to research the market and buy CBD from a trusted supplier whose products undergo third-party testing. Try different forms of CBD, such as edibles, tinctures, gummies, or topicals to see what works best for you. Start with the lowest effective dose, track the results, and adjust the dosage accordingly. For example, you could take anywhere between 5 and 10 milligrams daily for a couple of weeks and work your way up to 20 to 35 milligrams per day, explained physician Hervé Damas in an interview with CreakyJoints. He also recommends using CBD products made from organically grown hemp, with as few ingredients as possible.