We know that CBD has a variety of benefits for the human body. More and more people are using CBD products to improve their overall health and wellbeing: one 2019 study should that 11% of the adult population of the UK had consumed CBD at least once in the past year.
Along with helping with relaxation, improving sleep and focus, and better digestion, one of the most common reasons that people use CBD is to help with pain management. Although research is on-going, early indications point to the relationship between CBD and the body’s endocannabinoid system which allows it to deliver these benefits. Read our full article of CBD and pain management here.
But what about one particular form of pain: arthritic pain?
One of the most common types of pain that many people suffer, especially as they get older, is arthritis. Arthritis can vary in terms of its severity and also the type of arthritis. The recommended treatment therefore varies from patient to patient. Some patients may need medication or even surgery in severe cases, while others can manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes and natural supplements. In many cases, a combination of medical and supplemental solutions can be most effective.
Given the popularity of CBD for helping to manage pain, many people are wondering if CBD oil can be used for arthritis.
In this post, we are going to walk you through the uses of CBD oil for arthritis in the UK, how to best take it, and important tips for CBD oil and arthritis, including whether you should be aware of potential side effects.
Let’s start with taking a closer look at arthritis, symptoms and different types of arthritis.
What is Arthritis?
Over 10 million people in the UK suffer from arthritis or similar conditions, including people of all ages, from children to the elderly. Characteristic symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, swelling of the joints and stiffness. Although arthritis can affect people of all ages, these symptoms typically worsen as you age.
The best treatment option for this chronic condition varies depending on the type of arthritis. Therefore, it’s important to seek early diagnosis by a medical professional and discuss the best treatment options.
The two most common types that affect a majority of arthritis patients are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Let’s take a closer look at each condition.
Osteoarthritis is closely linked to age, occurring mostly in older people. However, joint injuries, obesity, and other health conditions which put a lot of pressure on your joints can also cause inflammation in one or more of your joints, leading to osteoarthritis. The condition mostly affects the spine, hips, knees and feet.
With osteoarthritis, the pain in your joints typically develops gradually and worsens over time and with age. As part of this condition, the cartilage that provides support to your joints breaks down. This usually occurs when you put a considerable amount of stress on your joints, squeezing the cartilage between the bones.
The damaged cartilage can makes it difficult for you to move, while affecting your mobility and causing inflammation. The symptoms of this chronic medical condition depend on the joints affected but common symptoms include difficulty with movement, severe pain, inflammation and stiffness in the joints.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, isn’t associated with obesity and other physical conditions, but is rather an autoimmune disorder. In this chronic medical condition, your body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells and organs, leading to inflamed and swollen joints. Common symptoms include stiffness, severe pain, inflammation, and swelling in the knees and ankles. 1 in 5 people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis also get severe lumps on the affected area.
There is no clinical evidence that proves the root cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis, but experts believe that the condition can develop following infection by a rare bacteria or virus. The immune system gets confused and attacks the healthy cells in your body.
The symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis are typically more severe than osteoarthritis. Furthermore, RA does not affect a single or limited number of joints. Since it is an attack from your immune system, each joint in your body can become inflamed. You might notice pain and stiffness in your knees and ankles, but it can also affect your elbows, wrist, feet, shoulders and neck.
Things get even more complicated for arthritis patients when the pain and inflammation occur along with other, co-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and obesity.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat the condition, and natural health supplements can also be helpful. That’s when CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis UK comes into play.
We’ll take a look at this in more detail in the next sections.
How Does CBD Oil Work?
CBD is a cannabinoid, one of over 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike that other famous cannabinoid, THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive or addictive properties. In other words, it will not get you high.
Like all cannabinoids, CBD has an impact on the human body because it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Like the digestive system and the cardiovascular system, this is an integral human system that is responsible for regulating and balancing many of the body’s processes, including immune response, cellular communication, memory, appetite and metabolism.
CBD interacts with different cannabinoids in the body and attaching to cannabinoid receptors. This helps to boost the functioning of the body’s natural endocannabinoid system in a variety of ways including better digestion and improved sleep. CBD acts on the endocannabinoid systems by binding to receptors in the system, including those that relate to pain and inflammation.
When you take CBD oil, the CBD compound attaches itself to CB1 receptors, which are found in the brain and spinal cord and help to manage pain, and CB2 receptors throughout the body that play a role in reducing and managing inflammation as well as relating to the immune system. Therefore it is logical that CBD can have an impact on not only the symptoms of both osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, but also the underlying causes of RA as an auto-immune condition.
When you take CBD oil, the active compound is transported to different parts of your body through the bloodstream. From there, it can bind to the CB2 receptors throughout the body and the CB1 receptors in the brain and spinal column. As mentioned, these receptors play important roles in pain management, inflammation and the immune system.
In binding to these receptors, the Cannabidiol molecule can alter the way the receptors respond to the pain and inflammation signals. In other words, CBD hampers the transmission of pain signals, reducing the sensation of pain.
That is the theory, but what about in practice? Does research show that CBD helps to manage pain from arthritis? Let’s take a look at what the studies say.
Does CBD Help Alleviate Arthritis Pain?
Stiffness, pain, inflammation, and painful movements are common symptoms of arthritis. These symptoms can worsen over time if left untreated.
The question is “Is CBD oil an effective option for arthritis pain and inflammation”?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, CBD oil is widely used by people suffering from fatigue, sickness, pain, and other symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Furthermore, according to a 2019 study conducted by the foundation, 29% of the respondents mentioned that they used CBD in its edible and topical form. 80% of the people were either consuming CBD or had used this health supplement in the past.
People who were consuming CBD reported some improvements in their health, sleep, and overall well-being. Some respondents also mentioned the effects of CBD on their chronic pain and stiffness. Another 2017 study focusing on the effects of CBD oil on arthritis patients found that CBD products can benefit patients suffering from joint neuropathy and osteoarthritis. Finally, a 2016 study into the transdermal effects of CBD on inflammation and pain-related behaviours in rats with arthritis found that a dose of 6.2mg per day significantly reduced both swelling and pain symptoms.
In short, research is still in its early stages and further investigation is needed. However, a number of studies have shown links between CBD oil and reducing pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
How to Use CBD Safely for Arthritis
Another important question is “is CBD safe”? Again, research is still in its initial stages, but no serious side effects or risks have been found when taking moderate doses of CBD. There are important considerations, however, for certain individuals, including pregnant women and people taking medication or who have certain health conditions. If you fall into any of those categories, be sure to consult your doctor before taking CBD.
Another common question is “Is CBD oil safe for arthritis patients”? Firstly, it is important to remember that CBD isn’t a substitute for medicines and other treatment options for arthritis. While it may be helpful in alleviating mild symptoms, or helping to manage pain and inflammation along with other prescribed treatments, never replace your medicine with CBD and always consult your doctor before using it.
CBD is generally safe to take and has no known side effects if taken in moderate doses. However, as will any supplement, it is important to follow certain guidelines in order to make the most of it.
Here are some tips for safely using CBD for arthritis:
- Go Slow: There is official guideline or established dosage for CBD for patients suffering from inflammatory pain in general or arthritis in particular. In general terms, it’s best to start low and take only a few milligrams (usually a drop or two of CBD oil). Note that CBD in the edible and topical forms takes time for the effects to show. Limit your dosage to a few milligrams for the first few weeks and stop taking it immediately if you notice any side-effects, and contact your doctor.
- Do not Replace DMARDs with CBD: CBD oil shouldn’t be confused with medication that could prevent joint damage or relieve pain. Cannabidiol is believed to be effective in easing the symptoms of arthritis and promoting general wellbeing, but this is a health supplement. For example, vitamin C can help to boost your immune system and help you to recover more quickly from illness, but it is not a replacement for the medication you may use to treat the illness.
- Beware of Drug Interactions: Some medicines can interact with CBD so this is one of the reasons why you must keep your doctor fully informed of your CBD consumption. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take CBD even if you are on other medications, but it’s important to pay attention to interactions and be guided by your GP.
- Shop Carefully: CBD can now be found in spas, salons, restaurants and even retail stores. Unfortunately, the rapidly-growing popularity of CBD coupled with limited understanding of the compound has make the sector particularly prone to scams. It is important to thoroughly research products and only buy from a reputable supplier.
How Much CBD Oil to Use for Arthritis
Scientists are still conducting research in this area, so it is difficult to know the correct dosage of CBD for arthritis patients. However, experts recommend a low dosage for beginners, so stick to a low dosage, around 5m to 10mg for the first few days. The dosage and method of consumption influence the effects of CBD in your body.
Therefore, a small amount of CBD might not offer the best results, but it is important to start with the minimum dose and work your way up. How soon you will see its effects on arthritis symptoms depend on how your body responds to CBD oil and everyone is different.
How you take CBD and its bioavailability also play a role: learn more in our guide to CBD and bioavailability.
Once again, CBD should not be confused with a substitute for arthritis medication. It is, therefore, important to discuss whether and how much CBD to take with your doctor. They will help you figure out the right dosage of CBD, the best method for consumption and the best time to consume CBD oil. Make sure you note the CBD intake and the dosage every day to track its effects.
If taking CBD oil or tincture, start with a few milligrams. If you don’t get the desired results in a few weeks, double the dosage. You can do small increments to the CBD dosage. If you experience the side-effects of the product, inform your physician immediately. Always check with your doctor before increasing the dosage or consuming CBD with medication or other health supplements.
Tips for Using CBD Oil for Arthritis
As mentioned above, when you take CBD oil, the CBD compound is absorbed into your bloodstream and from there is transported to your organs and tissues. It interacts with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, including those responsible for pain response, inflammation and aspects of the immune system.
CBD for Rheumatoid Arthritis and osteoarthritis are available in different forms. You can take CBD oil or capsules, consume it in the form of an edible such as CBD gummies, or inhale CBD in a vape. If you have severe joint pain, you could also consider using CBD lotions, creams or balm, which you can apply to the stiff and inflamed joints. Your doctor might recommend CBD in a particular form to best manage inflammation and pain.
You can also add CBD oil to your food or use it in cooking. Many people find this a very convenient way to take CBD, you should be aware that CBD in the edible was the lowest bioavailability.
CBD creams, lotions, serums, salves, and gels that can be applied to the affected area directly can be used for not only arthritis and joint problems, but also certain skin issues, such as eczema and psoriasis. The receptors that respond to the pain and inflammation can be found throughout our body, which means CBD can interact with the endocannabinoid receptors through your skin, albeit for that localised area only.
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can take CBD for arthritis:
Orally (CBD Oil and Edibles)
If you take CBD capsules, gummies, and other edibles by mouth, then the CBD oil will enter your bloodstream through the digestive tract. The absorption through the digestive system is a bit complex and this can take longer than some other forms of CBD. Taking CBD oil under the tongue is a little more direct, as the CBD has a faster track to your bloodstream and you should notice the effect with 15 to 40 minutes.
Even still, many people prefer CBD capsules as these are easy to take, store and to keep dosage consistent. CBD edibles can make it harder to establish the right dosage and to make sure that you are taking a consistent amount of the compound. On the other hand, once you have discovered the ideal dose for you, you can take the correct number of capsules or drops of CBD oil every day.
Topically (Creams, Lotions, etc)
If you are looking to use CBD for inflammatory pain, then a good option to get the compound into your system is through the skin. CBD is widely available in the topical form: you will find plenty of lotions, balms, creams, and serums containing the cannabinoid. You can apply the lotion or cream directly to the painful joint.
There have been many reports from users that they have experienced positive benefits from using CBD in topical form. However, there has been very little research into topically-applied CBD, and so the efficacy of this method is still unconfirmed. Research hasn’t proved whether or not Cannabidiol is delivered below your skin through topical products.
Additionally, topical CBD products like creams and lotions usually contain a range of other ingredients, such as capsaicin and menthol. Therefore, be sure to carefully check the label and ingredients list to make sure they don’t contain any compounds or chemicals you’d rather avoid.
Another option is to try a deep massage using a CBD oil rather than a cream or lotion. Many users like to do a CBD oil massage before going to bed, leaving CBD to soak into the affected joints overnight. Two or three drops of the CBD oil should be sufficient to start. As with other doses, you should start low and gradually increase the dosage as necessary.
Last but not least, CBD can be inhaled through a vape or vape pen. However, many experts don’t recommend vaping CBD. This is partly because there has been very little research into CBD vapes and some people worry that they may involve unknown risks.
Another reason that vaping is not a good option for CBD for arthritis is that inhalable CBD is typically a CBD isolate. This means that you miss out on the entourage effect of the range of different cannabinoids found in broad-spectrum CBD products such as CBD oil. This effect allows you to reap the full benefits of not only the CBD compound but also the other cannabinoids in this kind of CBD oil, and the combined positive effect of them all acting together.
Studies and research around CBD oil for Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, although in their early stages, are showing promising signs. There is evidence that cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoid system, and in particular the CB1 and CB2 receptions, which relate to pain management, inflammation and the immune system.
In this way, it is likely that CBD oil can be helpful in managing pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and similar conditions. It is critically important to note, however, that CBD is not medicine and is not a replacement for medical arthritis treatments. It may also interact with your other medications, so be sure to consult your doctor before starting to take CBD for arthritis.
Additionally, always remember to check the legal status of CBD in your country to make sure you don’t run into any issues. If you’re not sure, check our guide to CBD and legality in the UK and beyond.Did you find this article useful? Browse our other posts to learn more about CBD, its benefits, risks and doses and keep checking back for the latest updates!