The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Arthritis is a disorder that causes inflammation and pain of one or more
joints. Studies have shown cannabis has anti-arthritic effects and can help
manage pain and inflammation associated with the disorder.
Overview of Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition characterized by joint pain. There are 100
different types of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation, but
common symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint
disease, and is the wearing down of the protective cartilage on the ends of
bones. Another common type is rheumatoid arthritis, which is when the body’s
immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, including the synovium that
lines the joints. Other more common types of arthritis include juvenile
arthritis, which develops in children, psoriatic arthritis, which affects
people with psoriasis, infectious arthritis, which is an infection that
spreads to a joint, and gout, which is caused by the build up of uric acid.
The pain, swelling and stiffness associated with arthritis can fluctuate in
severity and varies between individual. Severe arthritis can cause such
intense chronic pain that the ability to maintain daily activities is
Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving pain and swelling with medications,
physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Arthritis
Preclinical trials suggest that cannabis can help limit the damage of
different types of arthritis. In an animal trial, cannabidiol (CBD), a major
cannabinoid found in cannabis, effectively blocked the progression of
arthritis. Researchers found that CBD protected joints against severe damage
and concluded that CBD offers a potent anti-arthritic effect (Malfait, et
al., 2000). Other studies have found that synthetic cannabinoids offer
strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties and reduce joint
damage in mice with osteoarthritis (Sumariwalla, et al., 2004) (Sumariwalla,
et al., 2009). Most recently, cannabinoid treatments were found effective
for reducing osteoarthritis-related cartilage breakdown (Kong, et al.,
Research has also shown that cannabis can help manage the pain and
inflammation associated with arthritis. CBD and another major cannabinoid
found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), activate the two main
cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) of the endocannabinoid system within the
body. These receptors regulate neurotransmitter release and central nervous
system immune cells to reduce pain (Woodhams, Sagar, Burston & Chapman,
2015). Activating the CB1 receptor has been specifically found to reduce
pain sensitivity in the osteoarthritic knee joints of rats (Schuelert &
McDougall, 2008). One study found that cannabis-based medicine significantly
improved pain during joint movement, pain while at rest, and quality of
sleep in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (Blake, et al., 2006). Numerous
preclinical studies have confirmed cannabis’ anti-inflammatory and
pain-relieving effects and they support the idea that the endocannabinoid
system is involved in alleviating pain associated with arthritis (La Porta,
et al., 2014).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Arthritis
Currently, Arkansas, California, Illinois (osteoarthritis,
rheumatoid arthritis), and New
Mexico have approved medical
marijuana for the treatment of arthritis. However, in Washington
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, various other
states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the treatment
of arthritis with the recommendation from a physician. These states include: Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
Island (other conditions
subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
have approved medical marijuana specifically to treat “chronic pain,” a
symptom commonly associated with arthritis. These
states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Arthritis
Activating CB2 receptors reduces osteoarthritic knee pain.Cannabinoid
Regulate Central Sensitization and Pain Responses Associated
with Osteoarthritis of the Knee Joint.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24282543)
CBD found to have anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive
effects, and therefore shown to be a potent anti-arthritic.The
nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral
anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis.(http://www.pnas.org/content/97/17/9561.full)
Arthritis. (2014, July 15). Mayo
Clinic. Retrieved from
Arthritis. (n.d.). MedlinePlus.
Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/arthritis.html#cat51.
Blake, D.R., Robson, P., Ho, M., Jubb, R.W., and McCabe, C.S. (2006,
January). Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of
a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by
rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology,
Kong, Y., Wang, W., Zhang, C., Wu, Y., Liu, Y., and Zhou, X. (2016, June).
Cannabinoid WIN‑55,212‑2 mesylate inhibits ADAMTS‑4 activity in human
osteoarthritic articular chondrocytes by inhibiting expression of syndecan‑1. Molecular
Medicine Reports, 13(6), 4569-76.
La Porta, C., Bura, S.A., Negrete, R., and Maldonado, R. (2014, February).
Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. The
European Journal of Neuroscience, 39(3), 485-500.
Malfait, A. M., Gallily, R., Sumariwalla, P. F., Malik, A. S., Andreakos,
E., Mechoulam, R., & Feldmann, M. (2000). The nonpsychoactive cannabis
constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine
collagen-induced arthritis. Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97(17),
Schuelert, N., and McDougall, J.J. (2008, January). Cannabinoid-mediated
antinociception is enhanced in rat osteoarthritic knees. Arthritis
and Rheumatism, 58(1), 145-53.
Sumariwalla, P.F., Gallily, R., Tchilibon, S., Fride, E., Mechoulam, R., and
Feldmann, M. (2004, March). A novel synthetic, nonpsychoactive cannabinoid
acid (HU-320) with antiinflammatory properties in murine collagen-induced
and Rheumatism, 50(3), 985-98.
Sumariwalla, P.F., Palmer, C.D., Pickford, L.B., Feldmann, M., Foxwell, B.M.,
and Brennan, F.M. (2009, January). Suppression of tumour necrosis factor
production from mononuclear cells by a novel synthetic compound, CLX-090717. Rheumatology
(Oxford), 48(1), 32-8.
What Is Arthritis? (n.d.). Arthritis
Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php.
Woodhams, S.G., Sagar, D.R., Burston, J.J., and Chapman, V. (2015). The role
of the endocannabinoid system in pain. Handbook
of Experimental Pharmacology, 227, 119-43.
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