Millions of people across the UK suffer from joint inflammation and pain due to arthritis or other similar conditions. Although it’s typically associated with getting older, these problems can affect people of any age. And given the chronic and debilitating effects, is CBD good for arthritis and joint pain?
Currently CBD is classed as a food supplement rather than a medical treatment, due to the relatively small number of clinical studies with human subjects. But it’s increasingly being discussed as one of the ways to alleviate chronic joint pain and arthritis in the press, among online support groups, and by organisations including the Arthritis Foundation in the U.S, and Versus Arthritis in the UK.
And there are a growing number of medical studies which suggest CBD could potentially help reduce inflammation and joint pain for those suffering from arthritis and similar conditions. As well as also helping to alleviate related symptoms including depression, alongside conventional medical treatment and steps to improve your general wellbeing.
Types of arthritis and joint pain
The most common type of arthritis in the UK is Osteoarthritis, which affects nearly 9 million people, most commonly women in the mid-40s or older. It tends to affect the joints in the hands, spine, knees and hips as it roughens and thins out the smooth cartilage lining of your joints, causing swelling and bony spurs.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 400,000 people in the UK, often between the ages of 40 and 50. And women are three times more likely to be affected by the body’s immune system targeting affected joints, which can cause the bone and cartilage to break down.
Other related conditions including ankylosing spondylitis which mainly affects the spine, cervical spondylosis which is more concentrated in the neck, and enteropathic arthritis which is associated with sufferers of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. We’ve previously looked at CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia, which is a related chronic condition which also causes pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons.
- joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
- inflammation in and around the joints
- restricted movement of the joints
- warm red skin over the affected joint
- weakness and muscle wasting
Some arthritis conditions may last a relatively short time, particularly when it can occur in children. For others it will be something that you will need to manage throughout your life, which is why it’s important to eat healthily, exercise and take care of your joints to avoid further damage. Lots of support is available through your GP, the NHS, and dedicated organisations such as Versus Arthritis, so make sure you accept all the help available.
Does CBD help your joints and arthritis?
CBD can be bought and used legally as a food supplement in the UK, as it’s a naturally occurring product which has had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) removed so it doesn’t cause a high. CBD products aren’t licensed as a medicine, but the existing scientific research suggests that it may help with managing some types of pain.
Versus Arthritis has said that “we know anecdotally from some people with arthritis, that CBD has reduced their symptoms”. And like them, we’d welcome more medical research into CBD products could potentially help with joint pain and arthritis.
How do CBD products work?
The cannabidiol in CBD products interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body, which is made up of receptors, enzymes and endocannabinoids. CB1 receptors are mainly in the central nervous system, managing things like co-ordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory and mood. The CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system, including pain and inflammation.
Research suggests that CBD interacts with these receptors to potentially provide reduced symptoms by either binding to the CB2 receptors, or promoting your body to produce more cannabinoids itself, to achieve the same effect. At the same time, studies are starting to suggest that CBD also interacts with receptors for other systems in your body. This includes serotonin receptors, which means it may also help with depression and anxiety.
Studies have shown that a synthetic compound which binds to, and activates, the CB2 receptor can reduce simulated osteoarthritis pain behaviour in rats. This includes transdermal application (when CBD is applied through the skin, such as with the We Are Kynd balm) in a 2016 study. And whether CBD could be effective in early-stage osteoarthritis to prevent both pain and nerve damage.
CBD isn’t addictive, as reported by the World Health Organisation, and while full spectrum CBD oil may contain trace elements of THC to potentially achieve a halo effect in combination, you can also opt for zero THC CBD oil for your own peace of mind.
Is CBD an anti-inflammatory?
Medical studies have suggested that cannabinoids could work as an anti-inflammatory treatment for more than a decade, such as this 2009 paper. It proposes that CBD might change the production of cytokines, which are proteins secreted by immune cells and manage levels of inflammation. Initial studies into CBD and the onset of type 1 diabetes in mice, and multiple sclerosis in mice, have both shown potential evidence for CBD as an anti-inflammatory treatment for both conditions.
Another complementary medicine which has been studied for anti-inflammatory properties is turmeric, which was the subject of a research trial on people with knee osteoarthritis. Our CBD capsules actually combine the two ingredients to offer the potential benefits of both.
How long does it take for CBD oil to work for joint pain or arthritis?
The time it may take for CBD oil to work for joint pain or arthritis will depend on a range of factors. Some people may feel the effect quite quickly, but we would always recommend being patient and allowing up to a few weeks for your endocannabinoid system to adjust to the addition of CBD to your diet or routine.
Can you rub CBD oil on pain areas?
CBD oil is a food supplement which you can take orally each day as part of general health and well-being.
However, CBD Balm can be applied directly to the skin if you’re suffering from joint pain or muscle soreness, whether that’s from arthritis and similar conditions or recovering from sport and exercise. Along with being able to apply the CBD Balm on the areas causing you problems, it’s also long lasting, as our 800mg tin also contains Rosemary extract as a natural preservative to mean it will be effective for up to two years.
Is it safe to use CBD oil every day?
All of the available medical and scientific research into CBD use has concluded that it’s perfectly safe to use on a daily basis, and in terms of effectiveness, we recommend taking CBD oil or capsules once or twice every day for a sustained period of time.
In 2017, a World Health Organisation report on CBD concluded that it is ‘generally well tolerated with a good safety profile’, and ‘to date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD’.
Some people do experience side effects from taking a CBD supplement including drowsiness, decreased appetite and fatigue. And it’s not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you’re making any significant change to your diet or lifestyle, or adding any specific food supplements, it’s always worth checking with your doctor or GP. Particularly if you’re already on a prescribed medication, as prescription drugs can have a wide range of interactions with various foods and other substances. Your doctor may be able to help you switch to a safer combination to trial CBD as a complementary supplement.
What drugs should not be taken with CBD?
It’s important to consult your doctor before taking CBD if you are already taking any prescribed medication, as although CBD by itself is largely deemed safe, it interacts with liver enzymes which can cause some medication to be broken down more quickly or slowly.
More research is needed to establish exactly which medications might have interactions with CBD, but you’re likely to experience increased side effects if you’re taking antidepressants, heart medication, some antibiotics, or epilepsy treatment. It’s particularly important for older people to check with their doctor, as your liver and kidney functions will already have slowed over time, and you’re more likely to be taking multiple medications already.
Useful links for arthritis and join pain:
We’ve published a range of guides to buying and using CBD, and how it may be beneficial alongside conventional medical treatment for various situations including: