Arthritis affects over 40 million people in Europe.
Is it any wonder that people are now looking towards marijuana as a means to help combat the debilitating effects of the illness.
Arthritis generally comes in two forms.
Osteoarthritis, which is usually associated with ageing and involves the wearing down of joint cartilage to the point where bones begin to rub together.
Rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age, and is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in the body, to the point where erosion of the bones becomes a problem.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, tenderness, swelling and reduced mobility.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include joint swelling, tender joints, fatigue and joint stiffness, as well as reduced mobility.
Considerable research is being carried out to maximise the potential of marijuana, or cannabis, whichever you prefer to call it, from a medical perspective.
There have been significant trials that relate to the alleviation of pain, but here we have to try and avoid the prospect of looking at marijuana as a potential miracle cure for multiple diseases.
Yes, people suffering from cancer have reported that smoking or consuming cannabis can help them cope with the pain, but it doesn’t cure cancer.
In relation to arthritis, research is focussing on neurotransmitters, receptors, and the endocannabinoid system, the ECS, in human beings.
If you remember, cannabis is packed full of around 100 cannabinoids, of which THC and CBD are only two.
So far that research has identified a potential link between arthritis and a breakdown of the ECS, and in one study scientists found up to 40% more cartilage degeneration in mice deficient in the CB2 receptor.
Interestingly, when they administered a synthetic cannabinoid, they found it significantly inhibits the progression of the disease in young mice with normal levels of CB2. The mice deficient in the receptor showed no change.
However, that, for the moment is about as far as research has got.
In the meantime, it would seem that cannabis may be able to help with pain management, but that is a little bit like putting a sticking plaster on a deep wound.
What you also have to realise is that pain is the body’s way of warning you that something is wrong, and masking the pain can often lead to causing further damage, so we would always advise caution when using cannabis to help with pain management.