This article was originally posted on CBD Seniors.com. To view the original post about CBD & seniors with arthritis, click here.
In the United States, 23 percent of adults suffer from arthritis. Around the world, 350 million people have this condition. While most people who have arthritis are age 65 or older, there are still many young and middle-aged adults who also have this condition.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for arthritis. The best thing that scientists can currently do for the condition is alleviate the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. By reducing the body’s inflammatory response, doctors can help you live in less pain for longer. While every drug carries some risks and side effects, cannabidiol (CBD) is showing promise as a way to treat the pain of arthritis and reduce the progression of the disease.
How Does CBD Help?
Thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers can now grow and process hemp in the United States. Because of this, CBD is now widely available online for people across the country. In addition to helping with conditions like insomnia and anxiety, research also shows that CBD can help alleviate pain as well.
CBD is a chemical compound that is naturally found within cannabis plants. While this compound will not make you high, it does have other useful benefits. Since cannabis was completely illegal until very recently, scientists are still working to understand the effects of using cannabis. CBD is only one out of dozens of different cannabinoids in cannabis, so other cannabinoids may have additional effects as well.
In the United States, people can readily buy CBD balm, tinctures, vaporizers and gummies. One study by Harris Poll found that 85 percent of Americans have already heard about CBD. Out of these adults, more than 20 percent have actually tried it.
Once CBD is extracted from cannabis, it can be used to treat ailments ranging from anxiety to chronic stress. CBD works by targeting receptors in the endogenous cannabinoid system. The cannabinoid system consists of neurotransmitters that naturally bind to cannabinoid receptors. These cannabinoid receptor proteins are naturally made in the human body. CBD targets the same receptors in order to alleviate pain, anxiety and stress.
Currently, about 55 percent of users state that they take CBD in order to relax. An estimated half of people use CBD for anxiety and stress. The next most common reason why people used CBD was for pain. In addition, some people use CBD for menstrual symptoms, migraines, nausea and sexual enhancement.
What Does the Research Say?
Because CBD was illegal like the rest of the cannabis plant, researchers are still trying to gain a better understanding of how effective this drug is for various conditions. In addition, researchers still need to figure out effective dosages. In rats, moderate doses of CBD have been shown to produce an anti-anxiety effect.
Another rat study shows that oral and topical solutions of CBD can help to alleviate pain. This particular study involved scientists exposing the rats’ sciatic nerves using an incision. Then, they constricted the nerves. Another part of the study involved injecting bacteria into the rats’ paws to cause inflammation. Afterward, the scientists gave the rats CBD or a placebo for a week. They applied pressure or heat to the rats’ legs to see how their reaction changed in comparison to their pre-study reactions. The rats that received CBD had less pain than the control group.
In a 2010 study of human patients, 177 people experiencing cancer-related pain were given extracts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. The patients who received extracts with THC and CBD were twice as likely to experience pain relief as the patients who received just THC. This seems to indicate that CBD alone or the combination of the two is the component that leads to pain relief.
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CBD and Arthritis Pain
An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from arthritis. Out of this number, 24 million Americans have to limit their daily activities because of arthritis. While people may say they just have arthritis, arthritis is actually a term that covers more than 100 different conditions. All of these conditions involve some level of swelling, pain and stiffness. With certain kinds of arthritis, the organs can also be affected.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is the form that causes cartilage to deteriorate. Since this cartilage helps to protect your bones from friction, it can lead to pain and joint damage. People who experience this condition can develop inflammation as well. Because it takes time for cartilage to deteriorate, this condition typically affects the elderly more than it affects young adults.
Inflammatory arthritis like psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis are connected to autoimmune conditions. These kinds of conditions develop because the immune system thinks that it is under attack from invaders. Instead of attacking invading viruses, the body attacks organs or bones. This leads to severe pain and inflammation.
Once someone experiences joint deterioration, the symptoms tend to get worse over time. Other than treating joint and nerve pain, many patients also need help with inflammation. By using CBD, you might be able to limit your joint pain, inflammation and mobility issues. Arthritis symptoms like stiffness, decreased joint movement and pain tend to respond well to CBD.
How the Endocannabinoid System Works
The endocannabinoid system is a fairly recent discovery. It was discovered after researchers started learning about the way cannabis affects the body, which is how this system got its name. People have used cannabis for therapeutic purposes for centuries. In 1964, researchers finally managed to isolate THC. Amazingly, this was the first time scientists learned how cannabis made people high.
Out of all of the cannabinoids, THC is the most abundant in the plant. THC affects neuronal signaling in the body. During the 1990s, researchers found different cannabinoid receptors in the body. Researchers discovered that THC binds with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. Outside of the central nervous system, THC binds with CB2 receptors. CBD is also thought to work closely with CB2 receptors, which are known to regulate the immune system.
The human body does not have cannabinoid systems and receptors by accident. These receptors were designed to work with natural cannabinoids that your body produces. There are actually two other types of endocannabinoid receptors, but scientists are still uncertain about what these receptors do.
Your cannabinoid system is responsible for processes involving learning, executive function, memory, emotions, sensory reception, motor function and decision making. Your cannabinoid receptors are located in the central nervous system and peripheral nerves. By making changes to the endocannabinoid system by taking CBD, you may be able to reduce your perceived pain and change any processes that are affected by the cannabinoid system.
The Benefits of CBD for Arthritis
Recent studies show that 42 percent of Baby Boomers already use CBD to help with their joint point. In animal research, CBD has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. By taking CBD, you may be able to reduce the signs and symptoms of arthritis.
One of the major reasons why people use CBD for arthritis is to reduce pain. Recent studies show that 62.2 percent of marijuana users took marijuana for pain relief. Almost all seniors experience some kind of pain later in life, and CBD can help reduce this pain. Cannabis and CBD are especially useful for joint pain from conditions like arthritis.
Interestingly, CBD can also protect your nerves. It helps to reduce joint neuropathy. This is one of the reasons why it is useful for conditions like arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Another one of the ways CBD can help is by supporting the joints. Taking CBD can reduce the inflammation around your joints. Reduced inflammation can also improve the symptoms of other diseases as well.
When you are in a lot of pain, it can feel impossible to sleep at night. In one study of Sativex and rheumatoid arthritis, many participants were able to sleep better when they used the drug. Cannabinoid products can help reduce physical discomfort and inflammation, which can naturally improve the quality of your sleep.
How Can You Use CBD?
You no longer have to roll a joint to use cannabis. Instead, there is a wide variety of different methods available for taking CBD. From edibles to topicals, you can choose the option that works best for you.
- Topical rubs, lotions and creams.
- Edible candy, gummy bears and baked goods.
- CBD pills and sprays.
- Joints and vaporizers.
- CBD oils and isolates.
Is CBD Legal?
Until recently, the legality of CBD was in question. Some states legalized medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, but marijuana was still illegal on a federal level. Since CBD is made from the cannabis plant, this essentially meant that CBD was illegal.
More recently, the 2018 Farm Bill finally became law. This bill essentially legalized hemp under federal law with a few important caveats. While growers could produce hemp and CBD, they were not allowed to produce THC. Farmers can legally grow hemp, but the hemp is not allowed to have any THC in it.
Is CBD Safe?
One of the biggest problems with CBD is knowing how much to take and which drugs to avoid. Because CBD has not gone through major clinical trials yet, there are still many unknowns about things like the dosage and other factors. If a medication is strong enough to cause a cure, it is safe to assume that it is also strong enough to cause side effects and drug interactions. Current research and anecdotal reports generally indicate very few side effects associated with CBD, but there are some potential risks to keep in mind.
Because of the potential side effects, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking CBD. This is especially important if you have other medical conditions or take any medications. CBD can change how prescription medications are processed in the liver. This means it can potentially cause drug interactions with medications like Zofran, Clozaril, Endometrin, Luminal, Valium, Prilosec, Motrin, Celebrex, Paxil and Allegra.
In general, most experts agree that CBD is safe to take. It carries very low risks. Currently, there has never been a reported case of a CBD overdose. CBD can potentially cause drowsiness for some users, so you should remember this if you plan on operating heavy machinery or driving.
How Can You Use CBD for Arthritis?
When you first start using CBD, it is a good idea to start with a low dosage. By doing this, you can give your body time to adjust to the medication. If you do not see results, you can always increase your dose later on. Most people take CBD twice a day. In the beginning, people often start with a dose between 5 and 10 milligrams. If this does not alleviate your symptoms, you can gradually increase your dosage incrementally until you reach up to 100 milligrams a day.
While scientists still do not know how all of the cannabinoids work, it seems like some cannabinoids work better when they are taken together. For example, taking THC and CBD at the same time may increase the effectiveness of your dose. With a full-spectrum oil or isolate, you can get a range of cannabinoids instead of just CBD.
For arthritis pain, some people start by just using the product at night so that they can sleep better. You can also start by using a topical product or vaping so that you get immediate effects. Then, you can use edibles. Candies and edible products take longer to take effect, but the effects last longer. Vaping the extract allows CBD to get into your bloodstream quickly, which is useful for acute pain relief.
If you use CBD orally, remember that your body may be unable to absorb the CBD for around an hour. Once the oral CBD is absorbed, it can last for a long time. If you have localized pain, you may want to use a topical remedy like a salve, lotion or balm instead. When you apply a CBD gel on the affected area, you can instantly get relief for acute pain, swelling and inflammation.