Millions of people in America alone suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Cannabis has been shown to ease the pain of these painful conditions and has, in fact, been used for thousands of years by Chinese and Indian folk to treat rheumatism and for pain-relief.
Common symptoms for arthritis are joint and musculoskeletal pain. The inflammation of joint lining can cause redness, swelling, heat and pain. This can mean debilitating pain and even loss of mobility for sufferers.
Anecdotal evidence for relief of arthritic pain using marijuana
Strong anecdotal evidence exists showing that medical marijuana can certainly help to treat the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients who have opted to use medical marijuana report increased mobility, less pain and less reliance on pharmaceutical medications.
Consider the example of Steve, an active gardener. In addition to tending to a wide range of plants in his garden, he specifically grows marijuana to relieve his rheumatoid arthritis pain and discomfort. According to Steve “If my pain is at a 10, it (marijuana) will take it down to a 6 or 6.5”.
Juicing raw cannabis helped a young woman named Kristen who was diagnosed at the age of 16 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Her condition developed into an auto-immune disorder that left her bedridden for four years. She claims that after only one month, her pain stopped and her recovery began.
Anecdotal evidence does not convince the scientists, so what studies have been undertaken to prove medical marijuana’s effectiveness?
Scientific studies on marijuana and rheumatoid arthritis
Clinical trials involve studies of a medication or potential medication with real patients. The gold standard for drug-approval is to have randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials, in order to validate whether or not such a drug will be effective. Lack of clinical trials means that cannabis continues to be seen as a dangerous drug. The US federal government has made it almost impossible to research the therapeutic value of cannabis. While research on cannabinoids has mostly been limited to animal models, some studies do provide evidence that medical marijuana does have the ability to reduce joint inflammation and provide pain relief.
A few years ago, GW Pharmaceuticals sponsored a clinical trial to ascertain the effect of marijuana derived compounds on patients suffering with arthritis. The study involved 58 patients who were finding little relief using conventional medications. After using an oral spray containing cannabinoids THC and CBD over a 5 week period, patients reported significant improvements in managing their symptoms, including better sleep quality and pain relief when mobile or at rest.
In a study published in 2006, the researchers used a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex. They found that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers patients who received the drug also reported less pain and good sleep quality. The journal Rheumatology concludes: “In RA-FLS, proinflammatory mediators up-regulate the expression of CB2R, which negatively regulates the production of proinflammatory cytokines and MMPs. These data suggest that CB2R may be a potential therapeutic target of RA.”