Cannabis may be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study published in the journal Current Opinion in Rheumatology. Researchers, who noted that “an increasing number of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are using cannabis to treat their symptoms,” wrote that “cannabinoids could be a suitable treatment for RA” and called for further study into the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
Dr. Benjamin Caplan, a family physician and cannabis specialist, told Forbes that he has helped thousands of seniors use cannabinoid therapies to treat arthritis.
“I have patients with mild joint pain that can be satisfactorily addressed with a topical cannabis treatment,” Caplan said. “Others are nearly incapacitated, taking multiple medications for incomplete relief, and welcome any additional option that will help them cope with the pain and anxiety associated with their condition, and improve their quality of life.”
Caplan said that researchers were only beginning to learn how cannabis is able to relieve pain safely and effectively.
“We don’t quite understand the all the details of how it works, but we do know that cannabis is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, and that it operates in a different way than other anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, steroids, or even the biological options available for treating RA and other autoimmune diseases,” he said. “These traditional drug treatments can cause severe side-effects, many of which we do not see with cannabis.”
Cannabis Presents New Options in Health Care
Caplan said that the variety of cannabis products, dosages, and methods of ingestion available make cannabis an attractive option for some patients, noting that “one of the nice things about cannabis is that the wide range of choices at reputable dispensaries creates a lot of opportunity for flexibility and success for many different types of people with a wide range of ailments.”
“Fortunately, all of these options and opportunities for flexibility rest on cannabis’ high safety profile,” he added. “From this foundation of safety, armed with education, the potential benefits to patients often outweigh the risks.”
The doctor said that he believes that many patients are longing for new alternatives to effectively treat their health care challenges naturally.
“We are stuck in a paternalistic medical system that is dehumanizing people,” said Caplan. “We have a broken medical system that strips patients of autonomy and power over their own illness, and that in and of itself is unhealthy. We all know it, but it has been a very difficult thing to fix. Healing with cannabis does not follow a traditional model, where a physician authority decides what the right choice is for a patient. Instead it’s a process undertaken by the patient with the physician’s guidance.”