Recently, we took a look at some of the best cannabis strains for pain because the simple fact is, most people who use cannabis for medical purposes are looking for pain relief. While there are a lot of reasons people have pain, arthritis is one of the most common. And, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one type of arthritis known for causing severe pain.
Several states have included conditions like RA on their lists of qualifying conditions to get a medical marijuana card, Mississippi allows people to apply who have been diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating disease that causes chronic pain, which may mean RA will help individuals get approved for medical use. Could cannabis be good for people with rheumatoid arthritis? Let’s take a closer look at the facts below.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects about 1.3 million Americans. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, RA is often diagnosed earlier in life between 30 and 50 years old, and, unfortunately, RA is considered a highly debilitating type of arthritis. RA commonly causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in smaller joints throughout the body, but can also affect larger joints. Additionally, problems with long-term swelling and inflammation can cause joints to become deformed due to erosion of the bones.
Common Symptoms of RA
The joint swelling, stiffness, and pain associated with RA are the most common symptoms. The condition usually affects small joints found in the feet, hands, or wrists, but can also occasionally affect knees, shoulders, and even organs like the lungs and eyes. People with RA often suffer from extreme joint stiffness, especially in the morning. However, unlike something like osteoarthritis, RA can also cause joint stiffness that lasts for many hours.
Other symptoms of RA can include:
- Chronic fatigue or lacking energy levels
- Rheumatoid nodules that grow around joints
- Loss of appetite
- Issues with low-grade fevers periodically, especially at inflammation sites
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Researchers are not sure what causes RA, but genetics does seem to be partially responsible. Three of four people diagnosed with RA are women, and there may be a higher risk for people with a family history of the condition. Obesity and smoking also increase the risks.
Cannabis and Rheumatoid Arthritis – A Closer Look
According to a recent publication from Medical News Today, cannabis has been gaining noteworthy traction as a potential therapeutic agent for people with RA. As noted earlier, quite a few states accept RA as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. And, there are ample anecdotal reports from cannabis consumers that claim cannabis helps with RA symptoms.
Thankfully, there have also been a few studies to shed more light on how effective cannabis may be for supporting individuals diagnosed with this debilitating form of arthritis.
Benefits of Cannabis for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Cannabis naturally contains compounds that may be especially valuable for RA symptoms simply due to the established therapeutic benefits. A large-scale review that looked at over 10,000 studies found that cannabis may be effective for effectively helping with chronic pain. This may be due to the anti-inflammatory actions of certain cannabinoids. Of course, chronic pain is one of the most problematic symptoms for patients living with RA.
RA can also be highly likely to lead to problems with your mental health due to living with chronic pain. Around 30 percent of people who are diagnosed with RA develop secondary mental health conditions like depression, and 20 percent develop anxiety.
Cannabis, and especially certain cannabinoids, may be good options for the mental health woes that come along with RA. For example, CBD (cannabidiol) is thought to offer mood-stabilizing properties, and CBG (cannabigerol) is commonly used by people targeting anxiety and depression. Therefore, using a CBD:CBG 1:1 Cherry Pie Vape Cart could be beneficial for combating anxious thoughts and pressed feelings.
Individuals with RA commonly struggle with sleep due to pain. Certain cannabinoids are known to offer sleep support. For example, CBN (cannabinol) is thought to be good for sleep support, as is CBD. Therefore, taking something like CBD/CBN Sleep Gummies may be an option for people with RA who struggle with sleep.
The Research Behind Cannabis and RA
In the last few years, there have been a few studies that have shown how cannabis may be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis, even though more research needs to be done.
One way that cannabis is thought to be important to examine in RA studies is how certain cannabinoids affect the immune system. RA is an autoimmune disorder that is characterized by heightened levels of pro-inflammatory markers in the blood. These markers are essentially a sign that the immune system thinks the body is under attack, but in the case of RA, it is not. Therefore, treating RA effectively is in part focused on reducing pro-inflammatory markers.
A review of animal studies in 2021 discussed how different cannabinoids consistently reduced the number of pro-inflammatory markers in the blood. While combined cannabinoids like THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD did yield improvements, THC alone did not perform these actions on its own.
In 2021, 319 participants with RA were examined by researchers to determine if cannabis affected things like sleep quality scores and pain assessment. Medical cannabis was found to have a positive effect in both areas. Earlier in 2006, Sativex, one of the few cannabis-based pharmaceuticals available, was also found to offer positive effects on pain and sleep scores for people with rheumatoid arthritis. To date, however, this medication has not been approved for use to treat RA patients.
Learn More About Medical Cannabis from Southern Sky Brands
For individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, cannabis may offer a viable option for support. If you are looking for hemp-based products until you have access to medical cannabis, be sure to check out our full collection at Southern Sky.
As Mississippi’s medical cannabis industry gets up and running, it will be ever-important to have a guiding voice along the way. At Southern Sky Brands, we’re glad to be one of the forerunners to offer helpful information for everyone interested in cannabis as medicine. Be sure to take a look at our blog for more helpful information about cannabis.