Many people relied on opioids to manage chronic pain and rheumatoid arthritis. But after the opioid crisis worsened, authorities imposed restrictions and bans on narcotic painkillers. Since then, an imminent need for viable and effective alternatives has emerged. What about CBD for RA, let’s find out?
Now more than ever, the conversation surrounding CBD oil is increasing. News outlets have dubbed the compound the “it” drug because of its purported ability to treat various conditions, from diabetes and pain to anxiety and depression.
So, what is cannabidiol and does it work for Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic pain?
What is CBD oil?
Cannabis Sativa is a group of pants that contains more than a hundred therapeutic chemicals called cannabinoids. These compounds influence the activity of critical neural pathways and tap into the human endocannabinoid system. The human endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining the homeostasis of the human body.
Two cannabinoids have garnered special attention in the past decade. These include THC or tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD or cannabidiol.
THC is intoxicating and therefore classified as a scheduled substance by the Food and Drug Administration. It is also thought to cause negative psychological symptoms, such as delirium and hallucinations.
On the other hand, CBD has an excellent safety profile. It doesn’t alter consciousness or cause euphoric effects. On the contrary, there’s evidence to suggest that the compound counteracts the psychoactive properties of THC. Also, while THC is extracted from marijuana, CBD is sourced from hemp.
Marijuana contains high concentrations of THC, whereas hemp contains high concentrations of cannabidiol and only trace amounts of THC.
The CBD oil that is an integral element of many holistic treatments is produced from hemp flowers. This type of oil contains THC but under the legal threshold of .3%. It is available in the form of tinctures and capsules in the market.
While you can use CBD oil for Rheumatoid arthritis, the evidence on the compound’s effectiveness is lacking. Most studies are based on animal models and therefore not translatable in humans. However, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence indicating that CBD may help with RA symptoms, mainly chronic pain.
Benefits of CBD oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There’s a growing body of research that suggests that CBD has therapeutic properties to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis pain. Many of these studies are centered on Sativex, a CBD-based oral solution administered sublingually (placed under the tongue) for immediate absorption into the bloodstream. Sativex is currently unavailable in the US, but you can find it in many other countries.
Placebo-controlled studies have shown that CBD may help with curbing pain in cancer, RA, and neuropathy. This type of drug can work when other conventional medications have failed.
Cannabidiol is also being increasingly touted as a sleep aid. It has proven to have a huge impact on sleep quality. As RA patients have to live with insomnia because of RA associated pain, this could also prove to be a major breakthrough.
Is it legal?
Generally, CBD oil is illegal across the US. However, the compound’s underlying legality has some provisions you need to keep in mind.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed farmers to harvest CBD from hemp. Before this time, CBD remained lodged in the Scheduled 1 category of drugs — the same category containing LSD and heroin.
Then in 2018, congress inoculated the 2018 Farm Bill and things changed. For the first time, the stigmatizations surrounding the compound melted away. Hemp clenched the respectable status of the agricultural crop and distanced itself from marijuana.
The 2018 Farm Bill also allowed the transportation of hemp products across state lines. These included tinctures, oils, gummies, edibles, and a whole host of other options.
But, the story doesn’t end here. The FDA has taken up the responsibility of regulating any product that advertises to have CBD’s therapeutic qualities. This means any company who wants to bring a CBD product into the markets needs to get prior approval from the FDA.
Also, vendors can only market CBD as a health supplement and not a drug. Say, you want to label your product as a great cure for rheumatoid arthritis or chronic pain — you can’t.
You can also not sell CBD as a food ingredient. Additionally, every state has its own cannabis laws. This has created a lot of confusion in the minds of CBD consumers. Therefore, the FDA is being pressed to publish uniform guidelines to provide guidance for CBD paraphernalia.
Is it safe?
Yes. CBD is very safe. In 2017, the World Health Organization published a report stating that the compound shows no indications of substance abuse potential in humans. To date, there have been no reported incidents of the compound causing any severe side effects.
But, as is the case with most drugs, CBD may interact with other medications. The Cytochrome CYP 450 is the enzyme system responsible for processing a lion’s share of medications in the human body. Cannabidiol may interfere with this system and reduce the metabolic activity of important drugs. However, you can overcome this problem with the right dosing.
When it comes to side effects, a 2017 study found CBD to induce side effects, such as weight loss, diarrhea, and exhaustion. That said, the study also mentioned that CBD is safer than many other medications.
How to Discuss CBD with Your Doctor?
Before choosing CBD for rheumatoid arthritis or any other condition, you need to consult your doctor. As mentioned above, CBD may interfere with your medication regimen and cause unwanted complications. In some conditions, the possibility of an existing condition worsening remains high. Some physicians suggest that CBD may make bleeding worse for some individuals. So, if you’re going into surgery, taking CBD might not be in your best interests.
Keep in mind your doctor’s knowledge of the compound’s safety, concerns and risks may be limited. CBD science is still in its infancy, so there aren’t reliable guidelines on dosage and formulations. However, your doctor still needs to be aware you’re taking CBD. Chances are your physicians may be interested in your reaction to the compound and how effective it has been in managing chronic pain or rheumatoid arthritis.