Research shows arthritis suffers turning to vaping CBD, cannabis for pain relief

Some 20 percent or 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis, and many of them are now turning to vaping cannabis products to help manage the associated chronic pain.  Some people use marijuana to supplement their current medications while others are eliminating their dependence of prescription painkillers entirely. 

While there are very few U.S. peer-reviewed studies on the use of cannabis for arthritis pain relief, there is evidence that the endocannabinoid system found in most mammals, including humans, responds extremely well to the THC in marijuana products.  A recent article published in Arthritis Today even seems to endorse cannabis while boasting of its perceived anti-inflammatory properties.

“Several decades ago, scientists discovered that mammals, including humans, have a pain-regulating system (the endocannabinoid system) with receptors in nervous system tissue, immune cells and bone and joint tissue. These receptors respond to cannabinoids, a set of compounds that include endocannabinoids, which the body creates on its own; and phyto-cannabinoids, plant-based compounds found in marijuana that are very similar to endocannabinoids.
The best-known cannabinoids are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in cannabis) and CBD (cannabidiol, a major constituent of the plant thought to act as a sedative and reduce inflammation, nausea and convulsions). They have complex mechanisms, but in a nutshell, cannabinoids can reduce pain by acting on certain receptors.”

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Due to the lack of abundance in qualitative scientific research currently available, the article also references four different randomized clinical trials involving placebos.   In 2011, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology also reviewed another 18 similar projects and determined that smoked, vaped, topically applied, edible, and even synthetic marijuana strains have shown to provide measurable pain relief without measurable negative side effects.

CBD alternatives for arthritis pain relief without the high

One of the drawbacks (or benefits, depending on one’s point of view) is that smoking or vaping marijuana can sometimes leave the patient feeling a bit euphoric.  Since many cannabis strains are psychotropic in nature, many patients are now turning to CBD or Cannabidiol as a more user-friendly alternative without the often-associated high.  

Not all rheumatologists are confident in the perceived pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits that proponents of marijuana and CBD tend to claim.  Many physicians are simply remaining open-minded until more U.S. research takes place.  However, one study currently being conducted in Canada is already attracting some rather positive attention from within the U.S. medical community, and the study will not even be complete until 2019.

The CAPRI study (Cannabinoid Profile Investigation of Vapourized Cannabis in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee) is designed to measure and compare six different cannabis strains consumed through vaping.  The researchers will be evaluating their varying THC dosages and profiles for their associated pain relief benefits or disadvantages in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. 

The study is being funded by the Canadian biopharmaceutical company Prairie Plant Systems (Canada recently became the second nation in the world to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Uruguay was the first).  The research team conducting the CAPRI research will include a highly respected group of scientists from McGill University, Dalhousie University, and a competing pharmaceutical company Algorithme Pharma. 

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