Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease of the autoimmune system. The immune system of someone suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis mistakenly attacks the joints of the person. This attacking by the immune system results in inflammation, which in turn result in the tissues inside the joints (synovium) to thicken, causing swelling and pain in and around the joints.
More than 30 million individuals in America alone suffer from some form of Arthritis. Researchers have been trying to figure out why so many people get affected by Arthritis, and their studies have led them to believe that there are some elements which contribute to the ever-rising rate of people with this disease.
One of the key contributing factors is, of course, aging. Men and women between the ages of 30 to 60 are more prone to getting Arthritis than others. Tough living environments and lifestyle accompanied with stress also increase the chances of a person developing Arthritis. With the current trends, sadly kids are also becoming victims of this disease. The cases of juvenile arthritis have crossed over 300,000.
Arthritis in brief
There are 2 types of Arthritis – Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis. This article will mainly deal with RA.
RA is generally when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints of the body causing pain and swelling. This inflammation sends off signals to the immune system and in turn, sends in white blood cells to fight the intruders. The white blood cells proceed towards the tissues of the joints and start damaging the cells of the tissue, destroying them completely. This continues to a point when the cartilage of the joint wears down so much that friction between the 2 bones cause immense pain and discomfort, and eventually, erosion. RA usually attack symmetrically, so the joint would be affected on both sides equally.
Like most autoimmune diseases, the cause for RA is yet to be determined. Most of the research, for now, is focused on developing medication to suppress the pain it causes. Since synthetic medication does not provide the optimum relief to a patient, Cannabinoid therapy might just be the answer.
The field of therapeutic marijuana has grown a lot in the past few years, with more researchers investing time into studying the benefits of this medicinal herb. Even though marijuana is a psychoactive drug, it has over 80 different strains, with their own medicinal and therapeutic properties. CBD and THC are the most known ones. THC is mainly responsible for the psychoactive effect of marijuana. But CBD on the flip side is the non-psychoactive cousin of THC, with medicinal properties.
So how does Cannabis help?
Cannabis has been used to treat RA since about the 19th century. CBD tinctures were extremely common in pharmacies of North America and were used as painkillers for Arthritis. The anti-inflammatory effect of Cannabis comes from the 2 compounds THC and CBD. They have been found to possess highly analgesic properties, but also carry high efficacy immune modulation and anti-inflammatory properties. When we look at Arthritis, we find that the TCH acting is a very strong analgesic, constantly working to bring down the inflammation and recharging the mental condition of the human mind.
CBD too has the same effect, just not with the psychoactive properties of THC. This property of CBD reduces the stress and anxiety cause alongside Arthritis as well.
CBN (cannabinoid) is another strain of marijuana which also helps reduce the pain caused by Arthritis. It also acts as a mild sedative and helps with a sound sleep.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical trial
The treatment of Arthritis with CBD is still in its initial stages but a series of tests have been conducted which have brought the possibilities under the spotlight. Some notable landmarks are-
- In 2011 a study was undertaken and released in the scientific journal for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, where they were able to strike the perfect balance of Cannabis and opiates for it to have strong synergistic effects. Patients exposed to this mix showed a 27% decrease in pain, compared to those who were administered only Cannabis.
- A study which took place in Canada had a number of volunteers suffering from HIV neuropathy and other neuropathic disorders. Based on the model of human neuropathic pain, the results of these tests were promising as Cannabis helped them a lot, as compared to synthetic prescription drugs.
- A study conducted on rats and mice showed that CBD was able to suppress the immune response system, greatly reducing the pain caused by Arthritis.
- Hebrew University, Jerusalem conducted a study where the researchers were successful in figuring out that when CBD is metabolized, it created a compound which had great anti-inflammatory properties. It was also noted that the effects of this compound had all the properties of synthetic drugs, but not the side-effects.