Arthritis and cbd: how to use it


Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have questions about a medical condition.

Arthritis is a common chronic health condition that refers to a number of different (but related) diseases. By definition, it refers to a disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints, usually affecting the weight-bearing parts of the body. The areas most commonly attacked by arthritis are the spine, hips and knees, but other areas such as the fingers, wrists and feet can also be subject to attack. While chronic joint pain is often resistant to pain management treatments, studies have shown that cannabis helps with arthritis pain and inflammation.

Cannabis and Arthritis 101

Contrary to what many people believe, arthritis can affect anyone at any age, from very old to very young. As a chronic disease, there is no single cure for arthritis. Instead, a range of different medications and therapies are often prescribed to help manage symptoms. If arthritis progresses unchecked, over time it can lead to impaired movement and other body functions.

Numerous studies and research on medical cannabis have revealed the many health benefits of cannabis. These benefits have contributed to its increasing recognition as a medicine and its gradual legalization in the United States. Here we will discuss how cannabis helps with arthritis. We will outline how the properties of medical cannabis can be applied to different types of arthritis to successfully relieve symptoms.

Benefits of Hemp + CBD for Arthritis

Arthritis is extremely common in the United States alone, with 23% of all adults (over 54 million people) having arthritis. Arthritis refers to more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect the joints, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus and gout. Pharmaceutical drugs such as narcotics, steroids and injections are often used to treat arthritis, but they often have harmful side effects and can even lead to addiction. That’s why many people are turning to CBD in the hopes of naturally managing the pain and inflammation associated with their arthritis.

How does cannabis help arthritis? Let’s start with the basics. You’ve probably heard a lot about THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, but CBD is gaining popularity due to its wide range of therapeutic benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause psychoactive effects. Instead, some evidence suggests that CBD acts through anti-inflammatory and analgesic pathways in the body to provide relief to those in pain. Some companies are even developing CBD with anti-inflammatory effects.

Cannabis offers a safer and more natural approach to managing various types of arthritis and their accompanying symptoms due to its beneficial ingredients. There are multiple ways to consume cannabis depending on your preference. You can apply CBD Oil creams and gels to the skin, such as cbdMD’s topical inflammation blend for joint pain. In fact, most cbdMD products can be used as painkillers.

You can also take CBD orally by taking capsules or tinctures. We love SeaBeDee’s tinctured oil for inflammation.

You can also take a bath rich in CBD products for extra freshness. For some inspiration, check out our guide to CBD bath products.

To deal with arthritis and other ailments, be sure to get the best CBD products available on the market from licensed retailers.

In fact, according to California-based Project CBD, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to promoting and supporting research into the medicinal uses of cannabidiol (CBD),” the uses of CBD go far beyond simple pain relief.<"Scientific and clinical research, much of it supported by the US government, confirms CBD's potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy and other neurological disorders."

CBD affects the immune system, making it a natural for use in autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis – and science doesn’t lie. A study published in the journal Rheumatology by Dr. Sheng-Ming Dai of China’s Second Military Medical University found that CB2 receptors are found at abnormally high levels in the joint tissue of arthritis patients, making them more sensitive to the action of cannabinoids such as CBD. Cannabis use has been found to combat joint inflammation by activating these CB2 receptor pathways: “Chronic pain is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, and when it comes to chronic pain, we have 9,000 patient-years of data showing that THC [the active ingredient in cannabis] effectively treats it,” says Dr. Jahan Marcu, chief scientific officer at Americans for Safe Access, an organization dedicated to legalizing cannabis for therapeutic use: “Cannabinoids stop pain transmission and reduce inflammation, which is very important for people with joint problems.” At a basic level, THC is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (relieves pain and the inflammation it usually causes) and is also known to reduce anxiety and depression that often come with chronic illnesses (especially those that cause loss of movement, such as rheumatoid arthritis).

Have you ever read about how smoking weed physically relaxes patients with seizures and makes their brain function more normal? Based on similar physiological principles, people with chronic pain and stiff joints may find that their bodies naturally relax when they use marijuana

Essentially, all of this research supports one of the core principles of medical marijuana: Both non-psychoactive CBD and psychoactive THC work wonders for people suffering from joint pain .

Cannabis acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory

The two components of cannabis (called cannabinoids) primarily responsible for medical marijuana’s anti-inflammatory role are cannabidiol (CBD) and caryophyllene. These two components differ from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): they are non-psychoactive, which means that their consumption will not cause ‘intoxication’. Caryophyllene and CBD function by activating CB2 receptors both directly and indirectly. These receptors are among the many receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for many vital regulatory functions in the body, including sleep patterns, hunger and satiety, mood, immune response, temperature, pain perception and signaling, and inflammatory response. By acting on these receptors, medical cannabis may help reduce swelling associated with arthritis.

Science also supports anecdotal patient reports. A recent study showed that cannabinoids found in cannabis are up to 20 times more effective than aspirin in limiting inflammation. In addition, THC may help suppress inflammation as it alters critical molecules during metabolism by the body.

Cannabis osteoarthritis (OA)

The term “osteoarthritis” refers to damage to joint tissues (usually over time, although causes vary). This damage can cause pain and occurs when cartilage wears away from the ends of bones, causing them to rub against each other. In healthy joints, elastic cartilage protects the ends of the bones from rubbing against each other. In its absence, joints become painful, swollen and stiff.

CBD oil, which can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp, helps reduce joint pain by acting as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. CBD, and therefore hemp, helps with arthritis pain by blunting the perception of pain and reducing the inflammation that causes it. It also helps prevent nerve damage in osteoarthritic joints by acting as a neuroprotectant.

CBD also provides an additional benefit to people with rheumatoid arthritis (or RA). It suppresses T-cell function, which is a major cause of the progression of RA (an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues). CBD can protect the body from further damage by reducing the destruction of cartilage and joint tissue.

Cannabis relieves anxiety and depression

Arthritis is closely linked to anxiety and depression. This is because all forms of arthritis can cause debilitating pain that can lead to a feeling of helplessness. In addition, anxiety and depression can worsen the condition of arthritis. Thus, by dealing with anxiety and depression, you are well on your way to reducing some of the common symptoms of arthritis.

The prevalence of anxiety and depression in people with arthritis varies depending on factors. Some of the factors include the size of the study population. Overall, data suggest that anxiety and depression are present in two out of ten people with arthritis. It is easy to understand why this pain has a depressive effect on the individual.

In many states, people with a medical cannabis prescription are allowed to grow their own cannabis plants. Authentic sources such as the American Seed Bank ILGM and many other stores allow patients to grow these plants and use their pain-relieving effects to treat their severe anxiety from chronic pain.

CBD oil is gaining popularity for its effectiveness in helping to alleviate mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It does this by binding to receptors in the brain. CBD triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating social behavior and mood. The effectiveness of CBD in calming anxiety can be seen in the reduction of social anxiety symptoms in people with social anxiety disorder. Consumption of CBD oil not only reduces anxiety in these patients, but also changes the way their body responds to stress.

Cannabis helps with arthritis and sleep

Lack of sleep is very common among people with arthritis, affecting more than 80% of patients of all types. It is often caused by stiff and painful joints and makes it difficult to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night.

Inadequate sleep can exacerbate arthritic pain and can also put you at risk of developing depression and disability. Sleep disturbance affects pain. This is because sleep disturbance leads to abnormalities in pain processing and pathways. This is why arthritis sufferers have a harder time trying to sleep.

You can use CBD for sleep to ease your anxiety, relieve your pain and inflammation, and it also interacts with melatonin in your system. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is sometimes called the “dark hormone” because its production is triggered by darkness. The anxiolytic and hypnotic effects of CBD help reduce emotional and subconscious anxiety. Its anticonvulsant effects create a feeling of relaxation in the body, minimizing muscle tension. Therefore, the combination of CBD and melatonin can be very helpful in improving sleep in people with arthritis.

How to use CBD for joint pain and arthritis

When formulating a CBD use regimen for a specific disease or condition such as arthritis, it is important to understand that CBD should be used regularly for maximum relief. This means that it should be used primarily as a preventative measure – it can also be used to manage acute flare-ups of symptoms, but preventative care is most important! Think of it like any other nutritional supplement or medication – you want to create a baseline concentration in your body.

To manage the symptoms associated with different types of arthritis, we recommend using a multi-pronged approach based on oral CBD intake and topical CBD application in the form of topical ointment for maximum relief. We recommend taking full-spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of tinctures or gel capsules. The ingredients in both products are the same; the only difference between them is the form factor and dosage – tablets and sublingual tinctures.

We recommend that arthritis patients start with 15 mg of CBD per day. If no relief is felt at this dose, we recommend increasing the dose by 5-10 mg until the desired effect is achieved. You will notice that the gel capsules are pre-filled and contain 15 mg or 25 mg CBD per tablet. There is no harm in starting above the 15 mg CBD threshold as you cannot overdose with CBD and there are no serious side effects.

These ingestible products provide lasting symptom relief for several hours – many people find that they provide relief for the whole day! The only thing to keep in mind with ingestible CBD products is the delayed onset – it can take up to 90 minutes for the full effects of tinctures or capsules to be felt.

We recommend supplementing oral CBD oil with a CBD-infused topical balm. The ointment should be applied directly to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation. The effect of the ointment should be felt very quickly, reapply as needed.

Managing acute flare-ups of symptoms

In addition to the daily arthritis management program described above, many people find that they still need a safe way to manage acute flare-ups. Regardless of the triggering factors, we recommend CBD vaporization to combat these acute arthritis flare-ups. The advantage of vaporizing or rubbing CBD is that relief can be felt almost immediately. We recommend 99% pure CBD isolate or pre-filled CBD vaporizer cartridges because they provide a wave of relief that can be felt throughout the body.

You can also apply additional topical ointment or ingest more CBD in the form of tinctures or tablets to combat these attacks; just keep in mind that the onset time will be significantly longer than vaporization.

We recommend that those interested in trying CBD for arthritis start with 15 mg of CBD per day. If this dose does not relieve symptoms, we recommend increasing it by 5-10 mg until the desired effect is achieved. CBD tincture makes this easier as you can adjust the dose in small increments. Alternatively, CBD gel capsules are pre-measured, so starting with the lowest dose (such as ten milligram capsules) is usually the best way to go. Feel free to start with the standard dosage offered by the CBD capsules of your choice, as you cannot overdose on CBD and it has no serious side effects.

Once you have established a basic dose, you can increase it as needed to control symptoms. When adjusting your dose, it is important to keep in mind the delayed onset time of these ingestible products. It can take up to 90 minutes to feel the full effect of tinctures or gel capsules. Of course, the slow start translates into a long-lasting effect. Many people report that the effects of CBD tinctures and capsules provide relief that lasts all day! Choose the strength of the product depending on the severity of your condition and then apply as needed to help manage pain episodes.

CBD vaporizers are a little different as it can be difficult to measure exactly how much you are taking. However, CBD vaporizers kick in quickly, so it’s easy to monitor the effects before increasing your dose. Just take a puff and wait ten minutes for the full effects to kick in. From there, you can decide if more CBD is needed and quickly put another fast-acting puff in.

Methods of Using CBD for Arthritis

One thing is for sure: for those suffering from chronic joint pain, a little chronic can go a long way. Try CBD – you might like the effect and the worst case scenario is that nothing happens. We rely on CBD after every ski day, backpacking trip and workout – there is nothing better in terms of natural pain relief and relaxation.

Vaporizing or vaporizing

You can use CBD oils to vaporize (just be careful with propylene glycol!) or even raw organic hemp flower (like Canna Comforts’ Lifter strain) can be vaporized or smoked to get a fast-acting dose of CBD for quick symptom relief.

This is often the easiest way to get CBD, especially if you’re in a state with less favorable marijuana laws, where products can be secretly shipped to your home. Be sure to check out our CBD consumption guide to find out which CBD intake method is best for you.

Topical Ointments

Like IcyHot or Tiger Balm, a topical CBD ointment will help relieve joint and muscle pain. Of course, they are easy to find in dispensaries in legal states, but in states without a legal cannabis program they probably need to be ordered online.

Don’t worry, you can buy an ointment specifically designed to treat joint pain and have it shipped directly to you in a safe, legal and discreet way. A few of our favorites are the very nice Arnica Pain Cream from Serene CBD and the very effective CBD Freeze Pain Relief Roll-On from cbdMD.

We also like to use CBD soap every day to keep our finger dexterity young.

Try every type of strain

Sativas, indicas and hybrids all have their strengths and weaknesses. Sample different strains like a wine taster and see what works. You will be surprised at how strains high in CBD feel – they have a soothing, relaxing, powerful calming effect, which is a godsend for people with aching muscles and joints. If you live in a state without medical hemp, don’t worry! With raw hemp flower you can continue to enjoy the benefits of whole flower and full spectrum CBD strains. Our favorite source for hemp flower is Canna Comforts – their organic, batch-tested strains provide a wide range of cannabinoid compositions, creating an option for every need and purpose.

Try THC and CBD ratios

If you’re buying hemp from a dispensary, you’ll often notice that they list both THC and CBD content. Heavy, THC-dominant strains are usually in the 20-25% range, but may contain small traces of CBD.

Alternatively, CBD-dominant strains may have 10%+ CBD and little or no THC. There are also blends and hybrids that occur somewhere in between. Our favorite high CBD strain is Lifter from Canna Comforts.


Nothing is as old-fashioned as using a method of consumption that has been trusted for thousands of years. Despite being extremely old-fashioned, the method is still incredibly effective and is one of our personal favorites – tinctures can be a complete solution for joint pain.

The effects of tinctures last much longer than CBD inhaled through smoking or vaping – it can even give some people all-day symptom relief.

Results of CBD research for arthritis

The discovery of CBD is a phenomenon that dates back nearly a decade, but unfortunately research efforts into its health potential have only recently begun to emerge.

Researchers now have enough evidence that the endocannabinoid delivery system is involved in inflammation and pain processes to suspect a direct link between CBD and arthritis symptoms. Research is still in its infancy, but is expected to increase rapidly as legislation and consumer interest progresses. Most of the research on the use of CBD in arthritis involves mice, but there are also reports of human experience with CBD in arthritis symptoms. Research is examining the effects of CBD for two main types of arthritic conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and confirms that CBD has similar therapeutic potential for both.

In addition, research shows that cannabidiol is potentially useful for treating arthritis-related pain and inflammation in the field, as well as for use as a preventative measure. One study even suggests that CBD may prevent nerve damage by inhibiting inflammation, meaning that CBD may help reduce the long-term, serious effects that arthritis can create over time.

Research into the endocannabinoid system and its role in the fundamental processes that regulate inflammation and pain caused by arthritis or related conditions provides a solid foundation for future research efforts. Research efforts related to CBD for arthritis are expected to continue to increase, and many CBD brands are using this new knowledge to create a variety of CBD products designed to treat arthritis-related discomfort. The following studies help illuminate the relationship between CBD and arthritis:

1. Cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic

A 2000 study examined the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD), the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis, in murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). “CBD was administered after the onset of clinical symptoms, and in both models of arthritis the treatment effectively inhibited the progression of arthritis. CBD was equally effective when administered i.p. or orally. Dose-response showed a bell-shaped curve, with the optimal effect achieved at 5 mg/kg per day i.p. or 25 mg/kg per day orally. Clinical improvement was associated with protection of the joint from severe damage. Taken together, these data suggest that CBD has a potent anti-arthritic effect in CIA through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects.”

For more information:

2. Preliminary Evaluation of Cannabis for Rheumatoid Arthritis

A 2006 study evaluated the efficacy of Sativex, a cannabis-based drug containing a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD, in the treatment of pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. “In the first controlled study of a cannabis-based drug in arthritis, a significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed after treatment with Sativex.”

For more information:

3. Cannabinoid Expression in Rheumatoid Arthritis

A 2014 study revealed that CB2 receptors are found at abnormally high levels in the joint tissue of arthritis patients, making them more sensitive to the action of cannabinoids such as CBD. Cannabis use has been found to combat inflammation in joints by activating these CB2 receptor pathways.

For more information:

4. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation

A 2015 study examined the effectiveness of administering CBD via a transdermal patch instead of oral administration. “Transdermal gel containing CBD significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture assessment such as spontaneous pain score, immune cell infiltration and synovial membrane thickening in a dose-dependent manner. These data suggest that topical application of CBD has therapeutic potential to alleviate arthritis-related pain behavior and inflammation without significant side effects.”

For more information:

5. Suppression of early phase inflammation

Here we analyze a 2017 study: “Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial joint disease involving joint degeneration, recurrent inflammation and peripheral neuropathy. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-euphoria-producing cannabis component that has the potential to relieve pain. The aim of this study was to determine whether CBD is antinociceptive in OA and whether inhibition of inflammation with CBD can prevent the development of pain in OA and joint neuropathy. The data presented here show that topical application of CBD blocks pain in OA. Prophylactic treatment with CBD prevents the subsequent development of pain and nerve damage in joints with OA. These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe and beneficial therapy for the treatment of neuropathic joint pain in OA.”

For more information:

6. Cannabidiol reduces acute arthritis in rats

A 2011 study evaluated the effects of CBD on laboratory rats with arthritis and found that CBD reduces pain by affecting the way the body responds to pain-causing stimuli. The study concluded: “This research clearly demonstrates that atypical cannabinoid receptors are involved in joint nociception and that these novel targets may be advantageous for the treatment of inflammatory pain.”

For more information:

Essentially, all of this research supports one of the core tenets of medical marijuana: both non-psychoactive CBD and psychoactive THC work wonders for those suffering from joint pain. Several studies confirm the effectiveness of CBD as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever for arthritis management.

A note on CBD and drug interactions

Cannabidiol has been declared safe by several leading organizations, including the World Health Organization. However, it is important to consider the unique characteristics of your health and fitness to determine any potential risks.

A common concern is the risk of drug interactions between CBD and prescription medications. This is because CBD is metabolized by the same group of liver enzymes, or cytochrome P450 liver enzymes, as many other drugs. As CBD passes through the liver, it can reduce the number of these enzymes available to metabolize other substances, reducing the potency or some drugs.

The interaction can involve many of the prescription drugs taken for arthritis, such as opioids, which are metabolized by the same liver enzymes.

The interaction between these drugs is not serious unless the drug is prescribed to treat life-threatening symptoms. CBD can only reduce the amount of medication that can reach the bloodstream.

In this context, this effect is only temporary. Many people notice that there is no significant reaction between CBD and their regular medication. You can also avoid interactions by taking CBD at separate times from other substances. If you are concerned about drug interactions or are already taking daily medications, you should talk to your doctor about CBD to help you get started.

CBD and Drug Testing

If drug testing is part of your job requirements, you may be concerned about the possibility that CBD could cause a positive test for THC. This is not an unfounded concern – but there is no surefire way to address it.

Most of the data we have on CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, but there appears to be a small risk of false positives for some users. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing trace amounts of THC may reduce the risk of false positives, but may not eliminate the risk entirely.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you should consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you.

To learn more about CBD and the science of drug testing, check out our article for a more detailed discussion of how to minimize the risk of false positives.

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