New Research Review Offers Insight Into CBD and Rheumatic Diseases

A newly published research review looks at the state of the scientific evidence on the use of CBD (Cannabidiol) for alleviating the symptoms of rheumatic diseases.

Rheumatic diseases, often referred to as arthritis, are a group of over 100 auto-immune conditions related to the inflammation of joints, muscles, bones and organs. 

It is worth noting that rheumatic conditions are different from osteoarthritis, which is a breakdown of cartilage and bone in joints and not due to inflammation like rheumatism.

The research review, titled Cannabidiol (CBD) in Rheumatic Diseases (Musculoskeletal Pain), was published in the medical journal Complementary and Integrative Medicine on May 3, 2022.

The purpose of the research is to look at the evidence to-date and address the remaining uncertainties about the effects of CBD on rheumatic conditions, as well as more practical issues like dosage levels. 

The main conclusion: “As many rheumatology patients are trying CBD as a self-management strategy, the healthcare community must urgently accrue sound evidence for effect.”

It is important to note that there is a big difference between CBD and THC in that CBD does not get you “high” like THC. In fact, CBD is made from an entirely different plant than THC. CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, while THC is derived from hemp’s cousin the cannabis plant.

The researchers in this study make it very clear that much more research is needed before there is robust clinical evidence showing that CBD has a positive impact on rheumatic conditions. However they do find that: 

“the preclinical science has compelling evidence for CBD effect on pain, sleep disturbance, and anxiety, symptoms commonly experienced by rheumatology patients.”

In scientific research the term “preclinical” means that tests have been done using animals (i.e. mice), as opposed to humans. 

In preclinical trials on laboratory rats, researchers have found that CBD did have a positive impact on pain symptoms related to inflammatory pain models. 

Another study on horses and dogs confirmed these results. So at least in animals tests there is a reduction in pain attributed to rheumatic symptoms. 

As the researchers point out, these findings in animals coincide with the conclusion by the International Association for the Study of Pain Presidential task force on Cannabis and Cannabinoid Analgesia: there is significant evidence suggesting that CBD may be analgesic in preclinical studies.

There are recent human studies looking at the effects of CBD on symptoms other than the pain associated rheumatic conditions. 

Many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis have high levels of anxiety and there have been some recent studies showing promising results. A study published in 2020 titled, Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, reported that acute doses of CBD reduced anxiety in both animals and humans. 

Another common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is sleep disturbances.

Much like other research at the moment, there is promising pre-clinical and clinical findings, but more research is needed.

A 2019 study titled, Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: a large case series, found that CBD used for anxiety and sleep resulted in anxiety scores decreasing within 1 month in 57 of the 72 adults studied (79%) and sleep scores improved in 48 of the adults in the study(67%) but fluctuated over time. 

So while there are promising lines of research when it comes to CBD and its potential use in treating rheumatoid arthritis, there remains a lot of work to be done. 

There are numerous clinical trials underway that may help shine some light and provide further evidence on the role CBD can play in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Here are five research studies currently underway that we are keeping an eye on: 

  • Cannabidiol for bilateral total knee arthroplasty
  • Topical CBD in joint arthritis
  • Cannabinoid tablets for the treatment of pain from osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee pain study using CBD and THC in rapidly dissolvable sublingual tablet
  • Efficacy of cannabidiol in knee osteoarthritis

If you think CBD might help you, ask your doctor. Or you can set up a free, confidential consultation with our partners at Hello MD to see if CBD or medical cannabis might be right for you.