How to Prevent Arthritis: Can Medical Marijuana Help?

So, you want to learn more about how to prevent arthritis, huh?

Patrick Stewart. The 76-year-old veteran actor revealed that he uses medical marijuana daily to manage his arthritic hands. He also said that he experienced no side effects from this treatment and that it has significantly reduced the pain and stiffness in his hands.

Now, if you’ve been researching how to prevent arthritis, you may be wondering if cannabis is as effective as advocates say it is. Here, we’ll talk about some studies, as well as the possible risks.

The Sativex Study

2005 study published in the journal Rheumatology looked at the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of Sativex for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain. Sativex is a spray derived from the leaves and flowers of cannabis.

The randomized, double-blind, parallel group study compared Sativex with a placebo. There were 58 participants, who completed 5 weeks of treatment.

And the results were promising. The researchers observed a significant pain-relieving effect in the Sativex group. They also noted a significant suppression of disease activity.

This led the researchers to conclude that CBM or cannabis-based medicine has clinical relevance in the treatment of RA. The researchers also urged further investigation in this indication.

Cannabis and CB2 Receptors

Here’s another study you might have stumbled upon while looking up how to prevent arthritis. It was published in 2014 and it gave a glimpse into how cannabis can reduce inflammation in the joints.

According to the researchers, CB2 receptors are abnormally high in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and RA. Now, take note that cannabis activates two types of pathways. CB1 receptors are those that give marijuana smokers “high,” while CB2 receptors are being investigated for their role in regulating inflammation.

Dr. Sheng-Ming Dai, who was the study’s lead researcher, explained that historically, cannabis has long been used to treat a broad spectrum of diseases. In their study, they tried to use a chemical to activate these specific receptors. What they found out was that they were able to isolate molecules that cause inflammation, specifically, those responsible for cartilage erosion.

From the results, we can infer that CB2 receptors can be a possible therapeutic target of RA.

Medical Marijuana and Joint Repair

Can medical marijuana actually repair arthritic joints?

That’s what Dr. Jason McDougall aims to find out. With a three-year research grant from the Arthritis Society, McDougall, a pharmacology and anaesthesia professor at the Halifax university, is currently studying how cannabis compounds can ease arthritis pain.

If you live in Canada and you’re serious about finding out how to prevent arthritis, this is the study you should be keeping tabs on. McDougall’s research will not only look at how various dosages and methods of administration can help all types of arthritis patients. It will also focus on how patients can move away from smoking marijuana.

The society recognizes that there are a lot of anecdotal evidence in support of cannabis for relieving joint pain. But of course, it’s no match for evidence backed by hard science. This is why they used a peer review process to select McDougall’s research.

Marijuana Risks

It’s no secret that marijuana comes with risks. That’s why in a lot of countries including Canada, it’s illegal to use, sell, or produce cannabis (unless it’s for medical purposes).

And yes, while there have been no reports of people dying from a marijuana overdose, you can’t discount it’s short- and long-term effects. The psychoactive effects of cannabis, which are responsible for that “high” feeling, can also come with hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis. Taking too high doses can land you in an emergency room.

Marijuana use has also been associated with breathing problems, especially among those who smoke it frequently. It can irritate the lungs, just like smoking tobacco.

In older people who smoke marijuana, there is an increased risk of a heart attack because it can raise one’s heart rate. If you have heart problems, you should consider other ways to consume cannabis.

How to Prevent Arthritis: Your Other Options

If the studies we’ve mentioned so far didn’t do enough to convince you to give medical marijuana a try, that’s okay. There are other things you can do to ease the pain or prevent flare-ups.

For example, you can make sure you eat a diet that’s rich in omega-3s. According to Arthritis Foundation, omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and even help with heart health and brain function.

Another thing you can do is maintain a healthy weight. This is especially helpful if you have OA. The heavier you are, the more weight your joints have to bear.

If you can bring your weight to a healthier range, the less likely you’ll be experiencing flare-ups. Of course, to achieve this you can’t just rely on diet alone. You also need to exercise.

Just make sure the activities you do are low-impact and won’t cause injury. Even with daily activities, your goal should be to protect your joints. That includes not using your back to pick up objects and making sure your back, legs, and arms are always supported if you have to sit long hours at work.

Cannabis for Arthritis: Yes or No?

The only one who can answer that is you. Based on anecdotal evidence and the studies we’ve mentioned here, medical marijuana as a treatment for arthritis is worth considering.

But if you’re concerned with risks and side-effects, the best advice we can give is to talk to your doctor. There are many alternative forms of consuming cannabis and your doctor or pharmacist can advise you based on your therapeutic needs.

If You Want to Give Medical Marijuana a Try…

And you live in Canada, book an appointment with us. Our clinic supports patients who wish to access medical marijuana under Health Canada’s ACMPR or Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations program.

We will assess your eligibility through chart review. We can also discuss your case with your primary care physician or specialist.

Here at All Access Medical Clinic, we believe in patient education. We push alternate methods for safe consumption of cannabis and we also provide information on Grow for Self regulations.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 604-559-8022.