The Benefits of Treating Arthritis With Cannabis Topicals

Arthritis is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition characterized by joint swelling, pain, and stiffness, along with a decreased range of motion.

As a consultant for cannabis patients, I often work with those who are suffering from arthritis and looking for alternative ways to manage the painful condition. Often these patients come to me when they have exhausted the conventional options.

When arthritis gets severe, painkillers (such as opiates) are usually the primary treatment that these patients are receiving. But opiates have their limits. Patients adjust to their dose and it has to be continually increased. In some cases, opiates can actually increase sensitivity to pain. Many have already reached the highest allowable dose and will receive less and less relief from the drug as time goes on. Patients who have been relying on that pain relief are suddenly left without any recourse.

Thankfully, cannabis offers new hope for safely and effectively managing arthritis. As a potent painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent, cannabis has helped many with their arthritic symptoms. It can also be used safely in conjunction with opiates, so patients who are still using opiates, or tapering off of them, don’t have to worry about dangerous interactions. Research shows that cannabis use actually allows patients to decrease their opiate use, and in states where cannabis is legally accessible, opiate-related deaths have gone down by 25 percent.

In addition, research suggests that cannabis can do more than just ameliorate the symptoms of the condition, it may also be able to reverse it, leading to increasing improvements in mobility, inflammation and pain. Research shows that arthritis patients actually have a higher level of CB2 receptors in their damaged joints, than most.

One study, conducted in Canada, researched the effects of topical applications of cannabis on rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers behind it believed that saturating the patients CB2 receptors with cannabinoids will not only aid with pain relief but may actually repair the joint damage that has already been done.

Treating Arthritis with cannabis topicals

In my own experience with arthritis patients, topical applications of cannabis have been extremely helpful. Patients often complain that the topical isn’t doing much at first, but with regular saturation, they experience a gradual but significant change in their pain and mobility.

Those looking to try treating arthritis with cannabis topicals should start by finding a topical cannabis product that they can regularly apply. For patients with mild arthritis, you might start with a regular strength topical. I am a big fan of Leafy Botanicals’ hard lotion balm, as well as their massage oil. These topicals not only work well, but they smell delicious, with hints of lavender and rosemary.

For those with more severe arthritis, I recommend Fleurish Farm’s extra strength balm. This incredibly potent product was designed specifically with arthritis sufferers in mind, and I have seen it deliver immediate pain relief to some of the most severe arthritis patients I have worked with. This whipped balm is unscented and made entirely of oils that score a zero on the pore clogging scale, so it is light and hypo-allergenic enough for even the most sensitive skin. It’s also infused with high-quality rosin, a solventless cannabis concentrate, which contains powerful terpenes in addition to the cannabinoids found in most topicals.

Whether you are using topicals, edibles or inhaling it, cannabis can help ease the pain of arthritis and may even lead to long lasting improvements in joint health. If you are one of the 50 million people struggling with daily arthritis pain, cannabis just might be the perfect solution. Talk to an MD who specializes in cannabis to find out if it is right for you.

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Is it possible to boost your Endocannabinoid System without Cannabis?

The world is facing some pretty big problems right now and it’s hard to think about little else. At a time like this, why should anyone turn their attention to their endocannabinoid system? There are so many reasons! Not only does it help regulate your immune system, but it also helps to manage stress, pain, […]

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Sex Drive and The Endocannabinoid System

He once told me that he knew he was in trouble as soon as I looked at him. I knew the look because I remember the thoughts behind it. We were high school hot for each other and when we finally got a hold of each other, we didn’t let go for hours. Then, one […]

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Cannabinoid Receptors: What They Are and How They Work

Cannabinoid receptors are extremely important to our overall well-being, yet they remain shrouded in mystery. Most people are aware of the fact that cannabis has medicinal value, but how it actually works in the body is less than common knowledge; and it has everything to do with these receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are a class of G protein-coupled cell membrane receptors that make up part of the endocannabinoid system – which is responsible for a diverse range of physiological functions as well as overall homeostasis.

Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major groups of molecules: endocannabinoids – which are produced by our own bodies, phytocannabinoids – which come from plants, and synthetic cannabinoids – like the medication Marinol, for example.

As of now, there are two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2 – although there are believed to be many more. They can be found in different areas throughout the whole body and are present in all mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles, although their signaling is strongest among mammals.

Each type subtype of CB receptors are found in different parts of the body and have a different purpose in the body. Let’s take a closer look.

The Endocannabinoid System

The reason CBD can impact so many different physiological functions is because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors that can be found throughout our bodies. We naturally create cannabinoids which bond to these receptors to regulate different processes in our bodies and maintain homeostasis.

The ECS helps manage things such as immune function, appetite, sleep wake cycles, pain response, and the list goes on. However, when we are ‘cannabinoid deficient’ our bodies become destabilized and no longer function optimally. This is where supplementing with plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) comes into play.

CB1 Receptors

The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain (central nervous system or “CNS”), but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys. Throughout the brain, varying levels of CB1 expression have been detected in the following regions: the olfactory bulb, cortical regions (neocortex, pyriform cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala), multiple parts of basal ganglia, thalamic and hypothalamic nuclei, and other subcortical regions (e.g., the septal region), cerebellar cortex, and brainstem nuclei.

How it works is that endocannabinoids released by a depolarized neuron bind to CB1 receptors on “pre-synaptic glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons”, resulting in decreased glutamate or GABA release. Restricting glutamate release causes relaxation and limiting GABA release suppresses inhibition, which in turn in energizes the postsynaptic cell.

One of the primary roles of the CB1 receptors is to maintain homeostasis and equilibrium throughout the body, but they’re also an important factor in the treatment of various disorders. It’s believed that the expression of these receptors can help reduce anxiety, minimize pain, and treat inflammatory symptoms.

CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors are found primarily throughout the immune system and in hematopoietic cells. According to the most up-to-date research, “Through their inhibition of adenylyl cyclase via their Gi/Goα subunits, CB2 receptor agonists cause a reduction in the intracellular levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).” Simplified, that means these receptors are linked to various immune system functions such as regulating immune suppression, induction of apoptosis, and facilitating cell migration.

cannabinoid receptors

CB2 receptors have many important roles, as far as therapeutics go. Shockingly, changes in CB2 receptors have been detected in nearly every disease on earth that affects humans. Although more studies on this subject are needed, theoretically, CB2 receptor activity can be a factor in treating disorders ranging from cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, psychiatric, bone, skin, autoimmune, lung, pain and even cancer.

It’s also believed that CB2 receptors can be used to treat neurogenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As such, their importance in the overall treatment plan in elderly patients should not be overlooked.

Other Cannabinoid Receptors

It’s been a long-standing hypothesis that additional cannabinoid receptors exist throughout the human body. According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacological Reviews, “It is now generally accepted that some endocannabinoids, including anandamide, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol and N-arachidonoyl dopamine, as well as Δ9-THC and a number of synthetic CB1/CB2 receptor agonists and antagonists can activate or block established non-CB1, non-CB2 GPCRs, ligand-gated ion channels, ion channels and/or nuclear receptors (PPAR receptors).”

Certain compounds referred to as “abnormal cannabidiol” that produces effects which mimic those of regular cannabinoids but do not activate the documented CB1 and CB2 receptors. This “abnormal cannabidiol” can reduce pain and inflammation, and lower blood pressure just like plant-based CBD. It’s believed that anandamide (which is the first endocannabinoid to be discovered and studied by Israeli Professor Raphael Mechoulam) interacts with the “abnormal cannabidiol” receptor in the Central Nervous System (CNS).

“Importantly, some cannabinoids seem to target these channels or receptors with potencies that differ little from those with which they activate or block CB1 and/or CB2 receptors. Anandamide, such example, displays such potency at T-type voltage-gated calcium channels, voltage-gated KV3.1 and KV4.3 potassium channels, calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels, NMDA receptors, glycine receptors, and allosteric sites on 5-HT3 and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors,” the study further stated.

Another proposed cannabinoid receptor has been discovered in the hippocampus, as well as two possible others in different regions of the brain. These are, however, just theories that have come to fruition based on the activity of these receptors with the endocannabinoid system.

Final Thoughts

If one thing can be gathered from this article, it’s that our bodies are intricate machines that are capable of more than could ever be imagined. Ultimately, the goal of all the functions in our bodies is homeostasis, and as it turns out, cannabis can play a major role in helping us achieve this.

This all thanks to our beautifully complex Endocannabinoid System and the cannabinoid receptors that it interacts with.

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