Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
While arthritis involves the painful inflammation of one’s joints, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease (a condition in which the individual’s own immune system attacks itself) characterized by chronic and systemic inflammation throughout several parts of the sufferer’s skeletal system and body. It is a severely disabling ailment that often comes with chronic pain. The ailment is not restricted to just one’s joints, but may also affect one’s skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, and or nerves.
The exact cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown, although genetics, diet, hormonal, and environmental factors are all believed to contribute to its development in sufferers. The disease affects everyone differently and it may develop gradually or quickly. Current medical advances do, however, offer a number of treatments and therapies aimed at tackling the symptoms of RA as well as with helping the disease go into remission.
Using Cannabis to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. Its usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and its versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.
With that said, studies have shown that cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis for the following reasons: reducing joint pain and swelling; suppression of joint destruction; and with helping to prevent progression/worsening of the disease.
Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for treating the painful symptoms of RA. Many of the current studies and research surrounding cannabis as a treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis are focused on the anti-inflammatory properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) and on the usefulness of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as an effective pain-reliever. In one study by Malfait et al., published in March of 2000 it was stated that, "Taken together, these data show that CBD, through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions, has a potent anti-arthritic effect in CIA (collagen-induced arthritis)."
With that said, the following list also denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit. It may be beneficial to seek out strains that contain these cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Understanding medical cannabis. Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.
Cannabinoids for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials. Lynch, Mary E., et al.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2011 Nov, 72(5): 735-744.
Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial. Ware, Mark A., et al.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2010 Aug 30, 182(14): 694-701.
Characterisation of the cannabinoid receptor system in synovial tissue and fluid in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Richardson, Denise, et al.
Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2008, (online article).
Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine. Russo, Ethan B, et al.
Chemistry & Biodiversity, 2007 Aug, 4(8): 1729-1743.
The use of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Wright, S, et al.
Oxford Journals: Rheumatology, 2006 Jun, 45(6): 781 (correspondence).
Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Blake, D.R, et al.
Oxford Journals: Rheumatology, 2006 Jan, 45(1): 50-52.
Arthritis and cannabinoids: HU-210 ad Win-55,212-2 prevent IL-1 ?-induced matrix degradation in bovine articular chondrocytes in-vitro. Mbvundula, Estery C., et al.
Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2006 Mar, 58(3): 351-358.
Standardized extracts of cannabis for treatment of arthritis and migraine. Darmstadt, K.G.
BIOforum Europe, 2005 Jul, (online article).
Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics. Klein, Thomas W.
Nature Reviews Immunology, 2005 May, 5: 400-411.
Oral anti-inflammatory activiy of cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive constituent of cannabis, in acute carrageenan-induced inflammation in the rat paw. Costa, Barbara, et al.
Naunyn-Schmiedberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, 2004 Mar, 369(3): 294-299.
The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Malfait, A. M., et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2000 Mar 10, 97(17): 9561-9566.