Posted on 05/14/2012 in Medical Marijuana Research
By the year 2030, sixty-seven million Americans ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Currently, there are more than thirty-one million people who are either diagnosed or suffering from arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two common types of arthritis, but both of these types of arthritis affect the joints, limit movement and cause pain and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the malfunctioning of the host’s immune system and instead of fighting off foreign intruders, such as bacteria or viruses, the host’s body attacks the synovial membranes, which facilitates the movement of joints and eventually destroys the cartilage and eroding bones. Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly found amongst people of an older nature, those who have immune systems that are no longer as robust or efficient as they used to be. Osteoarthritis is the arthritis of the bones and is primarily found to be frequent in those of the elderly community. The elderly have cartilage that has been worn away through many years of being used and abused. The manifestation of arthritis also appears sometimes as chronic inflammation of the joints as a result from some form of an injury.
Cannabis has been shown to have powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory attributes, which suggests that it could play a great role in treating arthritis and not be limited to just symptom management. Throughout history ranging from 2000 B.C. to the 1700’s, the earliest records show medical use of marijuana in order to undo rheumatism, which notes it’s anti-inflammatory purposes.
Evidence from recent researches that have been conducted suggest that cannabis-based therapies are extremely effective in the treating of arthritis and other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint and connective tissue disorders and diseases. The well-documented attributes of cannabis enable it to be entirely useful in treating the pain that is associated with arthritis. Studies have also shown cannabis to be an effective treatment method for rheumatoid arthritis, which is one of the many recognized conditions on an extensive list for states that allow legal medical marijuana. It has demonstrated an ability to improve mobility as well and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation. Research has also shown that patients prefer cannabis as an adjunct therapy due to its reduction of their potential use of harmful non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
A non-psychoactive component of cannabis, cannabidiol, has been found to suppress the immune response of mice and rats that is responsible for a disease that ever so closely resembles arthritis. It protects them from severe damage to their joints and improves their condition significantly. Researches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem found that when cannabidiol is metabolized, the result is the creation of an acid that has the same potent anti-inflammatory actions of the drug indomethacin, just without any of the considerable side effects that are associated with the drug. Indomethacin is also known as Indocid and Indocin.
Similarly enough, another non-psychoactive cannabinoid known as ajulemic acid has been found by medical researchers in Massachusetts to reduce joint tissue damage in rats that have adjuvant arthritis. Tests done on human body tissue in vitro showed a 50% suppression of one of the body’s chemicals central to the progression of inflammation and joint tissue injury in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
The side effects of cannabis compared to an opiate painkiller are classified as “low risk”. The most frequent side effects associated with cannabis would be euphoric mood changes.