Treating Arthritis With Cannabis
The CDC states from 2013–2015, an estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7%) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis. By 2040, an estimated 78 million (26%) US adults aged 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
That's a lot of soreness in twenty years! Not to mention those that may have arthritis, but didn't see the doctor! We hope to see smooth cannabis regulation nationwide in those twenty years, as the magical plant has a tendency to help with arthritis.
Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
There are a number, and sometimes combination, of factors that cause arthritis. This could be genetics, obesity, joint damage (from an accident or equivalent), infections and daily tasks from types of jobs that involve repetitive movement that puts stress on joints. Dysfunction of the immune system and an abnormal metabolism can also lead to various forms of arthritis as well.
There are many things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life--with or without the help of cannabis. The Arthritis Foundation says learning about the disease and treatment options is the best place to start, as arthritis is a commonly misunderstood disease.
They also recommend making time for physical activity, to strengthen your body (like paced walks, yoga, daily stretching or leisurely biking). Maintaining a healthy weight is essential, too. Having good habits surrounding these points can help prevent or decrease inflammation.
We've written about what cannabis can do for athletes and exercising. Mostly in regards to pain and inflammation from training, injury, and surgery. And awareness about marijuana being an effective anti-inflammatory is common knowledge for most cannabis users. However, it goes deeper!
In the summer of 2015, the Canadian Arthritis Society funded a three-year research grant to a Dalhousie University researcher to determine if marijuana can relieve pain or repair arthritic joints. Pain-detecting nerves are filled with cannabinoid receptors, and according to researcher Jason McDougall, cannabinoids control the firing of pain signals from the joint to the brain by sticking themselves to nerve receptors.
Another controlled study, conducted by the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease in the UK, showed that cannabinoids provided statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, and quality of sleep.
But what about the infamous marijuana induced munchies that plagues many of us with bad eating habits? That trend seems to be decreasing as awareness about the mental and physical benefits of cannabis enter the mainstream. We've been seeing more articles come out about how cannabis users are a bit more heatlhy, or thinner than non-cannabis users.
In this article published by Business Insider, it mentions a study the AJM that analyzed data from more than 4,500 adult Americans — 579 of whom were current marijuana smokers. About 2,000 had used marijuana in the past, while another 2,000 had never used the drug. They studied their body's response to eating sugars: their levels of the hormone insulin and their blood sugar levels while they hadn't eaten in nine hours, and after eating sugar. Not only are pot users skinnier, but their body has a healthier response to sugar.
To understand the findings from the study by The American Journal of Medicine, we must understand how our body processes sugars. When we consume sugar, the boy responds by releasing insulin. Insulin primes our cells to absorb the sugar and turn it into storable starches, to be used later. When we eat too much sugar over the course of our lives, the system can get out-of-whack and our cells stop reacting to insulin--this is called insulin resistance, the precursor to type two-diabetes.
In regards to the data reported, it shows that those who had used marijuana in the past month have a healthier response to insulin than the average person. Their insulin levels of recent pot-smokers were lower during fasting and they had a lower insulin resistance score. They also had more "good" cholesterol and smaller waists.
Take a look at all the wonderful products that could help your arthritis on the HERB menu. Feel free to check out our Ailment Guide to see which cannabinoids help specific diseases or pain. You could also have some joints delivered and simply enjoy life a little more!
Information referenced from Leafly, The Arthritis Foundation, The Center For Disease Control and Business Insider.
Author Credits: Mike loves writing about cannabis science, lifestyle hacks and interaction of cannabinoids in regards to mental health.