Researchers still don’t know a lot about how marijuana affects your body. But there is substantial evidence that it can help relieve long-term pain. And pain is a major symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With the growing use of cannabis as an alternative treatment for medical conditions, some researchers are curious as to it effect on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other rheumatoid diseases. With states moving to legalize marijuana and the heated media debates the ensue, what do we really know about the cannabinoids effects on the human body? Rheumatologists, have seen a lot of media excitement about drugs with tons of benefits and no side effects but we now know better. We expect the cannabanoids to deliver immune modulatory benefits, perhaps some pain reduction and improved quality of life. But will there be some people who will become addicted to it and have other side effects? So let’s hope the media eagerness to sensationalize does not replace common sense and good science.
Cannabis and Pain
The pain associated with rheumatic diseases is considered a prevalent indication for medicinal cannabis. Clinical trials performed by Daphna Katz Talmor have explored the effects of cannabis on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia; preliminary evidence has also found an association between the cannabinoid system and other rheumatic conditions, including systemic sclerosis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The potential medicinal effects of cannabis could be attributable to its influence on the immune system, as it exerts an noninflammatory effect on various immune cells, including T cells, B cells and macrophages. However, the available evidence is not yet sufficient to support the recommendation of cannabinoid treatment for rheumatic diseases. In 2016 another review in the German publican Der Schmerz about rheumatoid pain management ws conducted. The findings of a superiority of cannabinoids over controls (placebo, amitriptyline) were not consistent. Cannabinoids were generally well tolerated despite some troublesome side effects and safe during the study duration,” Fitzcharles and the other researchers wrote. “Currently, there is insufficient evidence for recommendation for any cannabinoid preparations for symptom management in patients with chronic pain associated with rheumatic diseases.
Why More Study of Cannabinoids Can Be Useful
Due to their anti-inflammatory effects cannabinoids have been considered as a potential therapy for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. A majority of patients with arthritis reported beneficial effects of the drug, for example less pain and an opiod-sparing effect, Torsten Lowin and colleagues wrote. Lowin and colleagues said ” in vitro data and results from animal experiments suggest that cannabinoids might have a reduction of pro inflammatory cytokine production and signaling without an overt risk of infection and that would be a preferable treatment of RA. The researchers noted that the use of cannabis might not only reduce inflammation and pain, but may also help RA patients with comorbidities , such as depression, hypertension and osteoporosis.
CBD Creams and Rubs, Oils and Candies
Mami Groves, NSN, NP-C, an assistant in rheumatology at Vanderbilt Department of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. said that she does feel cannabinoids can be beneficial to patients with RA to reduce joint pain. ” I have had patients who have utilized CBD and hemp creams, rubs, oils and candies and they do tell me that they feel like their joint and muscle pain is less and more tolerable.” There are still a few drawbacks… Some patients may not be able to afford the cost of cannabis. And the true content of the oils, creams, rubs and candies are not verified because they are not FDA regulated. And the drug may produce a positive drug screen. The common theme in all the published reviews is that more research is needed.
The Journal of Rheumatology published a Position Statement… A Pragmatic Approach for Medical Cannabis and Patients with Rheumatic Diseases. Their conclusion was that despite a lack of evidence for use of medical cannabis in rheumatology patients, we acknowledge the need to provide empathetic and pragmatic guidance for patient care. This position statement aims to facilitate the dialogue between patients and healthcare professionals in a mutually respectful manner to ensure harm reduction for patients and society.
Although not Cannibus Related… The Cincinnati Rheumatic Disease Study Group are Running Specific Trials for RA, Psoriatic Arthritis, Lupus, and Ankylosing Spondylitis now… Click Here to Learn More
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About Cincinnati Rheumatic Disease Study Group
The Cincinnati Rheumatic Disease Study Group (CRDSG) is an organization of practicing rheumatologists dedicated to improving the care of patients with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. It strives to do this by performing rigorous and ethical clinical research with the goal of developing better treatments for all patients with these conditions.
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