Medical Cannabis – What People with Arthritis Need to Know

Medical Cannabis - What People with Arthritis Need to Know

By: Arthritis Society

Doctor Jason MacDougall (BSc PhD) is a Professor of Pharmacology and Anesthesia at Dalhousie University, the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of The Arthritis Society. In this video he gives an expert insight into the current possibilities of treating arthritis with medical cannabis.

He explains that cannabis is the scientific name of the hemp family but marijuana is merely a slang term. This is why it is usually connected with smoking cannabis, a popular trend.

The origins of cannabis actually trace back to anti-cannabis propaganda. Cannabis was a Mexican wild tobacco. William Randolph Hearst used the new name to associate crime with Mexican and Black men, claiming cannabis made Mexican and Black men violent.

Medicinal Cannabis Science

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that act on cannabinoid receptors in the human body. There are three types of cannabinoids. They are:

  1. Phytocannabinoids
  2. Synthetic Cannabinoids
  3. Endocannabinoids

Phytocannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered to mimic the effects of other cannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are our naturally occurring cannabinoids, produced by our body to regulate the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The Endocannabinoid System is modulated chiefly through two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2.

One cannabinoid in particular has been found to contain properties which can be of significant benefit to those suffering from arthritis; cannabidiol. Better known as CBD, this chemical is a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.

There are different ways to administer CBD. Each method will effect the patient in a different way. For example, some will be more fast acting, while others more long lasting. Some will also have more localized results, while others will spread the benefits across the body.

Different methods of administering include:

  • Smoking
  • Vaporizing
  • Ingesting orally
  • Topical

There are many different strains, or different types, of medical cannabis. They have different impacts, relative to various sub-population of patients. For example, some strains have been found to be more effective for the pain relief which arthritis patients seek, while others are more effective at the mood stabilization which mental illness patients desire. This is one area which Dr. MacDougall believes requires further investigation.

Using Cannabis for Arthritis

The health benefits of cannabis have been studied in some depth in recent years. In fact, the first every cannabis-based drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. By all accounts, it is expected that this is just the first of many.

Like any drug, cannabinoids can have adverse side effect , though they are rare and largely managed through lowering dosage. Due to side effects, medical cannabis may not be appropriate for all arthritis patients.

There have been experimental studies, the findings of which suggest that cannabis is effective in treating the pain caused by arthritis. However, there is a need for further clinical studies and general research into the benefits and potential limitations of cannabis before conclusive recommendations can be made, says Dr. MacDougall.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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