What’s the evidence it works? And what do experts recommend? Until recently, there’s been little research and even less guidance for people (or their doctors) interested in CBD products that are now increasingly legal and widely promoted.
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What’s the evidence that CBD is effective for chronic arthritis pain?
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While there are laboratory studies suggesting CBD might be a promising approach, and animal studies showing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, well-designed studies demonstrating compelling evidence that CBD is safe and effective for chronic arthritis pain in humans do not exist. A randomized trial of topical CBD for osteoarthritis of the knee has been published, but in abstract form only (meaning it’s a preliminary report that summarizes the trial and has not been thoroughly vetted yet); the trial lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed at best. One of the largest reviews examined the health effects of cannabis and CBD, and concluded that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” But there was no specific conclusion regarding CBD, presumably because definitive studies were not available.
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Your dosage depends on a number of factors:
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.
CBD may also raise levels of other medications in your blood by the same mechanism that grapefruit juice does.
Look for the following when choosing a CBD product:
Interactions can occur with these medications:
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.
Do not stop taking any other treatments without consulting your doctor. Additionally, CBD shouldn’t be a replacement for other therapies you are using.
Journal of Medical Toxicology: “Medical Marijuana and Driving: A Review.”
News release, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.”
Some lab testing suggests that cannabinoids may help tamp down the body’s immune response. But the studies have been limited to animals, not humans.
Where to Get It
Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Treatment with medical cannabis,” “Marijuana,” “What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?” “Rheumatoid arthritis.”
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: “Drug Scheduling.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can make your joints stiff, tender, and painful. RA also can affect your lungs, eyes, skin, and other body parts.
Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience: “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Health.”