CBD is all the rage these days. But can CBD help with the joint pain, stiffness and swelling associated with arthritis? Keep reading to learn more.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis family of plants, which includes high-THC cannabis and hemp. While the high associated with cannabis comes from THC, CBD is non-intoxicating. CBD has gained popularity for its effects on the endocannabinoid system, the body’s built in receptor system which regulates pain, inflammation, and more.
It used to be that CBD was only found within high-THC strains of cannabis. In 2014, when the US Government legalized pilot hemp research programs, the CBD industry was born. This small movement exploded in 2018 when hemp was legalized nationwide. With few exceptions, it is now legal within the United States to buy and use hemp-derived CBD products. They are widespread online and in stores. For more on choosing a quality CBD product, visit our blog What is CBD Oil and Does It Really Work?
Can CBD Help Arthritis?
Arthritis is, simply put, inflammation of the joints, characterized by joint pain, stiffness and swelling. From 2013–2015, an estimated 54.4 million (or 22.7%) of US adults annually had been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. 1 Anecdotal reports from patients and some preliminary research suggests CBD can help with arthritis, but the science is still emerging and more research is needed.
There are over 100 kinds of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While osteoarthritis is caused by diminished cartilage within the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the joints of the body, resulting in swelling of the joint capsule.2
Severe arthritis can affect one’s ability to do daily activities, particularly because arthritis tends to affect the joints of the hands first, as well as wrists, elbows and knees. When joints become chronically inflamed, daily tasks like walking, eating and working become difficult and sometimes impossible. CBD offers a promising option for those dealing with arthritis and the pain and inflammation it causes.
Inflammation & CBD
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. It is the body’s way of signaling the immune system to repair damaged tissue. While acute inflammation is a healthy response to physical trauma, the body is not designed to exist in an ongoing state of inflammation. This chronic inflammation is widespread in modern society due to a number of environmental and lifestyle factors.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, interacts with endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates pain and inflammation response, as well as several other systems including immunity and body temperature. These receptors are abundant in the skin and hair follicles. CBD may help with both pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
When CBD is applied topically using a salve, gel, or other body rub, the CBD acts directly on the skin, joints, and surrounding tissues. Because CBD helps regulate both pain and inflammation, it is useful for many kinds of arthritis. The pain of osteoarthritis, caused by wearing down of the joint, can be minimized by CBD. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, CBD helps regulate the body’s immune response, which minimizes swelling of the joint. In both of these cases, the result is the same: more joint mobility, less heat and swelling/stiffness (signs of inflammation) and reduced pain levels.
One 2017 study on animals (which may not translate to humans) found that CBD was effective at inhibiting joint inflammation and preventing the associated joint pain and neuropathy. The study concluded: “ These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapy for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”3
Things To Consider
There are a number of considerations when exploring CBD as an option for managing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis: dosage, frequency, and consumption methods.
There is no known overdose level for CBD. Some experimentation is necessary to find the correct dosage when beginning a CBD regimen for the first time. Using too little may yield unsatisfactory results. Using too much may cause unwanted side effects (these are rare and mild, and can include drowsiness, dry mouth, and nausea.) Most people using CBD for arthritis opt for 10-50 milligrams of CBD per day.
With quality CBD tinctures, dosage is straightforward. Look for products that clearly label how many milligrams of CBD are in a serving. With topicals, concentration is key. Some products only have 50-100 milligrams in an entire jar. This is inadequate. Make sure the product you’re using has at least 250 milligrams of CBD per ounce. Higher concentration topical rubs can be used lightly, as a little goes a long way.
When using CBD for the first time, choose a dose and a delivery method, and use it consistently for a week before making adjustments. If more relief is needed, increase dosage by 5 milligrams per week until the desired effects are reached.
Frequency of use depends largely on individual metabolism, severity of symptoms, and the form and type of CBD being used (ingestible versus topical, and full-spectrum versus isolate). As a general principle when managing pain, it’s best to stay ahead of it, rather than trying to minimize pain after it has become severe. For this reason, many CBD users take or apply CBD products every 12 hours, morning and night.
Topical products can be applied upon waking, throughout the day as needed, and before going to sleep. Quality products with adequate CBD content should not need to be reapplied many times throughout the day.
TInctures can be taken in the morning, in the evening, or both, if desired.
(The following passage is an excerpt from our “What is CBD?” guide, which can be found on the Frogsong Farm blog.)
It’s important to understand how CBD absorption works, as different delivery methods offer different pros and cons. Bioavailability varies widely between forms of CBD. When CBD is swallowed, the digestive process can destroy a significant portion, meaning there is less for the body to use. The CBD that survives follows the hepatic portal system to the liver. This is known as first pass metabolism. Some studies have shown that consuming CBD with fatty acids can help bypass the liver and pass more on to the body to be used.
Ingestible CBD is generally slower acting and longer lasting, and is a popular option for people managing chronic conditions like pain, inflammation, arthritis, anxiety, and sleep issues. Most are used once or twice a day, morning and/or night. Inhalable CBD products seem to have the fastest effects and are commonly used on-demand, but their health concerns far outweigh the benefits of this delivery method. Topicals are location-specific and applied to the skin as needed for fast acting, localized relief.
Tinctures: A commonly studied form of CBD consumption is the tincture. CBD tinctures are bottled extracts comprised of CBD (either full-spectrum CBD oil or CBD isolate powder) which is diluted into a liquid solution such as a carrier oil, alcohol or glycerin. Some tinctures have added flavorings and herbal extracts. These concentrated oils designed for sublingual use are held in the mouth where they can absorb into the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, enabling rapid absorption into the bloodstream.
Capsules: CBD capsules offer the benefit of convenience and mess-free portability. Some gel caps are double enteric coated to enable the capsule to pass through the stomach, bypass the liver and reach the small intestine to be more readily absorbed. Capsules usually contain between 10-50 milligrams of CBD each.
Edibles: The bonus of edibles is the fun of consuming them. The market is replete with CBD-enriched foods and snacks. These include gummies, chocolates, popcorn, almonds, ice cream and flavored waters and kombucha. Their novelty factor makes edibles a popular choice for people using CBD for general health and wellness. Those looking for therapeutic effects to manage chronic conditions, however, generally opt for more consistent, readily bioavailable forms for daily use, like tinctures.
Smoking: Some people choose to smoke high-CBD hemp flower. This is a personal choice. Because of the health implications of inhaling burning plant matter, it is not recommended to make this a regular method of consumption.
Vaporizing: Vaporizing is a controlled, low- temperature method of heating oils and extracts to turn them into vapors using a device known as a vape. Due to its rapid absorption, those who use vaporizers generally do so throughout the day or as needed. Vaping of cannabis likely has similar health concerns to those of E-cigarettes, most commonly lung and heart disease. 4 5 Frogsong Farm does not endorse the use of vaporized CBD products.
Creams, Gels & Rubs: Topical ointments can be applied as needed directly to the area needing relief. These interact with local endocannabinoid receptors in the skin and hair follicles, rather than entering the bloodstream and circulating throughout the whole body. Quality CBD topicals can offer several hours of relief from pain and inflammation. These can be used throughout the day or as needed.
Topical Patches: Generally, topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream; however, topical (or transdermal) patches are an exception to this rule. Patches are formulated with special physical or chemical means to penetrate the skin and allow deeper CBD absorption, where it can enter the bloodstream. Adhesive patches are applied to the skin directly where relief is needed, and tend to last 8-12 hours or longer.
Choosing a Trusted Product
When managing a chronic condition like arthritis, it is important to find products you can trust. The CBD industry is rampant with low-grade products produced by companies that are far removed from the needs of their customers and the farms where hemp is grown. Things are very different at Frogsong Farm.
It is our aim to produce therapeutic quality, high-concentration CBD products for people in pain. On our certified organic hemp farm, we grow all of the hemp used in Frogsong Farm CBD products. We extract our hemp and produce our products on site in our licensed facilities, then undergo third party lab testing to guarantee that our products are pure, potent, and deliver on the claims we make.
Arthritis is the most common reason our customers share for using CBD. We hear it over and over: Frogsong Farm CBD offers relief. The best part? If it doesn’t work for you, we’ll refund your money, no questions asked. Check out Frogsong’s CBD tinctures and topical rubs online today.
Until Next Time,
All Of Us at Frogsong Farm
Becca Recker is Director of Communications for Frogsong Farm. With a background in organic farming and permaculture design, Rebecca has been writing about soil health and local food access for nine years. The author of several blogs, she has contributed to articles for Oregon Leaf and Green Living PDX magazines, as well as the following websites: Civilized, Splimm, Miss Grass, and Flowertown. She has been a featured guest on the Periodic Effects and Your Highness podcasts.