Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint space that results in stiffness and pain. About 60 million people, mostly between the ages of 40 and 80, suffer from some form of arthritis. While there are a number of current treatments of arthritis, they are all associated with adverse side effects.
Aspirin, one of the most commonly prescribed over-the-counter medications for arthritis, is thought to be the cause of up to 1,000 deaths annually. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like Ibuprofen result in about 7,500 annual deaths and as many as 70,000 hospitalizations due to complications. These methods also frequently cause gastrointestinal complications, including diarrhea, stomach pain, and, in up to 15% of patients, peptic ulcers.
Fortunately, there's an alternative.
Research Suggests Medical Marijuana Can Help
Medical marijuana is superior to traditional methods of easing arthritis pain for a number of Reasons—chief among them is the fact that cannabis doesn't have the history of deaths or side effects that aspirin or Ibuprofen do. And a research paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States found that medical marijuana is particularly effective at reducing inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.
In the paper, the researchers describe the discovery that medical marijuana "effectively blocked progression of arthritis" when it was given to mice with induced inflammatory joint pain. Medical marijuana prevented the mice from developing any further joint damage once it was administered.
The Science Behind Medical Marijuana
Marijuana contains a unique set of compounds called cannabinoids, and the brains of humans and other mammals have receptors that these compounds fit into like a key into a lock. When the cannabinoids attach to these receptors—defined as CB1 and CB2 by researchers—they trigger a series of beneficial effects in the body, including pain relief, appetite stimulation, and more. Chief among these effects is the reduction of immune reactions like inflammation, which is closely associated with many of the symptoms related to arthritis. In this way, medical marijuana can provide relief to patients suffering from arthritis.
Medical marijuana can offer a safe alternative to over the counter drugs for the following conditions with no side effects and no risk of death:
- arthritis symptoms
- psoriatic arthritis
Cannabis can be taken in a variety of forms: smoked, ingested orally or taken via oil tincture under the tongue. This gives people suffering from arthritis many options if they want to try marijuana as a treatment.
Photo Credit: Alan Levine