The medical cannabis landscape in Canada is rapidly changing. As more and more doctors, researchers and patients expand their awareness of the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis, the popularity of this treatment option grows.
On September 20, the Arthritis Society announced their commitment to furthering arthritis-focused research by investing $4.82 million. The investment will be used to fund 23 research projects across Canada, a portion of which includes investigating the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for the management of arthritis. The Arthritis Society has, in the past, been very vocal about their support of research focusing on arthritis and medical cannabis, and was one of the early supporters of facilitating patient access to medical cannabis.
In the face of all too often ineffective treatment options, arthritis patients are turning to medical cannabis to help manage their pain, inflammation and improve their quality of life.
Challenges Faced by Arthritis Patients
Arthritis is a term used to describe a set of highly complex conditions characterized by a variety of symptoms. The most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA). Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition which can affect any joint in the body, but tends to appear in smaller joints such as fingers, wrists and toes. It is characterized by pain, swelling, deformities, low-grade temperature, dry eyes, low energy, fatigue and mobility issues. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease which affects more that 3 million Canadians. It typically affects the larger joints in the body and is the leading cause of hip and knee replacement surgeries. Arthritis patients typically experience severe pain, inflammation and a reduced quality of life. In addition, many patients experience impaired mobility which often leads to weight gain, sleep apnea and non-restorative sleep. As with any chronic pain condition, arthritis patients are tasked with managing the difficult experience of the chronic pain cycle. But, remember, breaking just one link in the chronic pain cycle can help improve the remaining symptoms, as well!
Cannabis Helps Arthritis Patients Manage Pain and Inflammation
The cannabis plant is made up of over 100 cannabinoids, the active compounds responsible for decreasing the experience of painful stimuli. The two most well-known cannabinoids, Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are believed to be primarily responsible for providing analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Research shows that cannabis is an effective treatment, with relatively few side effects, for chronic pain conditions. A combination of vaporized, edible and topical forms of cannabis products can help manage arthritic pain and inflammation on a variety of levels. In addition to providing pain relief, in the traditional sense, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis may also be useful for decreasing inflammation, reducing stiffness and improving mobility. This improvement in flexibility can help make exercise even more effective! For more information on how cannabis helps patients maintain healthy weight and exercise habits, please see our blog post here.
Cannabis Helps Improve the Quality and Duration of Sleep
Sleep remains one of the most important factors for successful management of difficult chronic pain conditions. Good quality sleep helps the brain battle inflammation and the immune system ward off illness. A lack of sleep counteracts the body’s ability to cope with daily stressors in life and can pose additional challenges for patients simultaneously managing multiple symptoms such as pain, inflammation, stiffness and reduced mobility.
Studies show that high cannabinoid levels promote sleep, and that THC is highly sedative. Cannabis is often used by patients to help them get to sleep and stay asleep. In addition, for those patients struggling with low energy levels, research shows that CBD can be useful for inducing homeostasis and reducing fatigue during the day.
This post originally ran at growwisehealth.com