How Does Cannabis Help With Arthritis?

Arthritis is extremely common in the United States alone, 23% of all adults (over 54 million people) have arthritis. Arthritis refers to more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect the joints including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, and gout. Pharmaceutical medications like narcotics, steroids, and injections are often used to treat arthritis, but they often have harmful side effects and can even result in dependency. That’s why so many people turn to CBD in hopes of managing the pain and inflammation associated with their arthritis naturally.

How does cannabis help with arthritis? Let’s start with the basics. You’ve probably heard quite a bit about THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, but CBD is gaining popularity for its vast array of therapeutic values. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce psychoactive effects. Instead, some evidence suggests that CBD works on anti-inflammatory and analgesic pathways in the body to supply relief to those suffering from pain. Some companies even design anti-inflammation CBD.

To date, many studies have assessed the value of CBD for arthritis with positive results. Still, more evidence is needed before CBD can officially be established as an arthritis treatment, and research regarding the topic is expected to continue to advance. In order to understand the potential of CBD for arthritis, we turn to a series of medical studies that have been conducted over the past eighteen years. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from various types of arthritis. We will address the results below.

What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD in Arthritis

The discovery of CBD is a phenomenon that can be dated back nearly a decade, but unfortunately research efforts regarding its health potential didn’t start rolling out until much more recently. Now, researchers have enough evidence of the endocannabinoid delivery system’s involvement in processes of inflammation and pain to suspect a direct link between CBD and arthritis symptoms. Research is only at its start, but is expected to incline rapidly with advancing legislation and consumer interest. 


Most of the research regarding the use of CBD for arthritis involves mice, but there are also reports of human experience with CBD for symptoms of arthritis. Research dives into the impact of CBD for both major types of arthritis conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and confirms that CBD has similar therapeutic potential for both. 


Plus, research suggests that cannabidiol is potentially useful for using as a preventative measure as well as for treating pain and inflammation due to arthritis on the spot. One study even suggests that CBD may prevent nerve damage by preventing inflammation, which means CBD could help reduce the long-lasting, severe effects that arthritis can have over time.


Research regarding the endocannabinoid system and its role in key processes that regulate inflammation and pain that is caused by arthritis or related conditions provides a solid foundation for future research efforts. Research efforts regarding CBD for arthritis are expected to continue to incline, and many CBD brands utilize this new knowledge to create a variety of different CBD products designed to target arthritis-related discomfort. The following studies help illuminate the connection between CBD and arthritis:


1. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis.

A 2000 study looked at the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD), the major non-psychoactive component of cannabis, in murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). “CBD was administered after onset of clinical symptoms, and in both models of arthritis the treatment effectively blocked progression of arthritis. CBD was equally effective when administered i.p. or orally. The dose dependency showed a bell-shaped curve, with an optimal effect at 5 mg/kg per day i.p. or 25 mg/kg per day orally. Clinical improvement was associated with protection of the joints against severe damage. Taken together, these data show that CBD, through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions, has a potent anti-arthritic effect in CIA.”

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2. Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

A 2006 study assessed the efficacy of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine containing a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, in the treatment of pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. “In the first ever controlled trial of a cannabis-based medicine in arthritis, a significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed following Sativex treatment.”

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3. Expression of cannabinoid receptor 2 and its inhibitory effects on synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis

A 2014 study found that CB2 receptors are found in unusually high levels in the joint tissue of arthritis patients, making them more sensitive to the effects of cannabinoids like CBD. The use of cannabis is shown to fight inflammation in the joints by activating the pathways of these CB2 receptors.

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4. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis


A 2015 study looked at the efficacy of applying CBD via a transdermal patch as opposed to orally. “Transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose-dependent manner. These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.”

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5. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis

Here we analyze a 2017 study: “Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial joint disease, which includes joint degeneration, intermittent inflammation, and peripheral neuropathy. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a noneuphoria producing constituent of cannabis that has the potential to relieve pain. The aim of this study was to determine whether CBD is anti-nociceptive in OA, and whether inhibition of inflammation by CBD could prevent the development of OA pain and joint neuropathy. The data presented here indicate that local administration of CBD blocked OA pain. Prophylactic CBD treatment prevented the later development of pain and nerve damage in these OA joints. These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”

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6. The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55.

A 2011 study evaluated the effects of CBD on lab rats with arthritis and found that CBD reduces pain by affecting the way the body responds to pain-inducing stimuli. The study concluded, “This study clearly shows that atypical cannabinoid receptors are involved in joint nociception and these novel targets may be advantageous for the treatment of inflammatory pain.”

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Essentially, all of these scientific studies support one of the key principles of medicinal marijuana: both non-psychoactive CBD and psychoactive THC work wonders for those suffering from joint pain. Several studies have validated CBD’s efficacy as an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving option for managing arthritis.

Which CBD products help with arthritis?

When you set out to create a CBD regimen to manage arthritis or related conditions, keep in mind that using CBD for arthritis has not yet been proven effective. Still, you’ll find many anecdotal reports of CBD making a significant difference in arthritis symptoms, especially when systemic and topical CBD products are used regularly. Using CBD as a regular, preventative measure may be the first step in a cannabidiol routine for this condition. If CBD works for you, it may also help in managing sudden flares, but regular doses will help you establish a solid concentration of CBD in your system so that you can reap the preventative and protective properties of the cannabinoid. 

There are a number of options to choose from, but for managing the symptoms associated with various types of arthritis, we recommend using a multi-prong approach that relies on ingesting oral CBD and applying CBD locally in the form of a topical salve for maximum relief. For an oral supplement, we suggest ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of Tinctures or Gel Capsules.

The ingredients in the two products are the same, but they offer completely different dosing methods. Tinctures are taken sublingually and can be precisely measured in small increments, while gel capsules are pre-measured doses that are convenient to swallow. The best CBD products will combine Cannabidiol with a high quality MCT oil to aid the body in breaking down and absorbing the cannabinoid. 

When combining the two dosing methods to effectively manage the symptoms of arthritis, you should also ensure that you choose a high-quality CBD topical. Topicals come in many forms, and many premium CBD brands offer topicals that are well-suited for managing pain, which may include a variety of essential oils and additives that aid CBD in providing targeted relief. CBD salves and lotions are often a good choice for this type of application. 

In addition to this regimen, many people still utilize CBD as a safe way to manage acute flare-ups from their condition. Depending on your preference, there is a couple of suitable option for managing sudden arthritis flares.

No matter what triggers your flares, we recommend vaporizing CBD isolate to combat these acute arthritis flare-ups. CBD isolate is a pure version of CBD, with all other cannabinoids removed. Vaporized CBD offers a distinct benefit—it takes effect almost immediately. Vaporizing CBD isolate can help provide near instant relief from sudden flares. 

You can also take another dose of CBD in the form of tinctures or pills to combat these acute symptoms, but you should consider the delayed onset of ingestibles compared to vaporized CBD.

Many people find that the best way to manage moderate to severe arthritis and arthritis-related conditions is to utilize multiple high quality CBD products in their wellness regimen. 

What is the correct CBD dosage to help treat arthritis?

Finding the best dose for you is an independent process that requires attention to unique biological factors, like your weight, condition, and severity of symptoms. Also, your tolerance to cannabinoid-based medicines will play a role in the amount of CBD needed to experience full relief.

We suggest those who wish to try CBD for arthritis start with 15mg per day of CBD. If this dosage doesn’t alleviate symptoms, we suggest increasing it by 5-10mg until the desired effects are achieved. A CBD tincture makes this easy since you can adjust the dose by small increments. 

Alternatively, CBD gel capsules are premeasured, so starting with the lowest dose (like a ten-milligram capsule) is often the best way to go. feel free to start with the standard dose offered by the CBD capsules you choose, because you can’t overdose on CBD and there are no serious side effects.

After establishing a baseline dosage, you can increase as needed to control symptoms. As you adjust your dose it’s important to note the delayed onset time of these ingestibles products. It can take up to 90 minutes to experience the full effect of tinctures or gel capsules. Of course, the slow onset translates to long-lasting effects. Many people report that the effects from CBD tinctures and capsules provide relief that lasts all day! 

Dosing for topical products is different, as each topical product contains a different concentration of CBD. Choose a product strength depending on the severity of your condition and then apply as needed to manage pain flares. 

CBD vaporizers are a bit different in that it can be difficult to accurately measure how much you ingest. However, CBD vaporizers take effect quickly, so it’s easy to monitor effects before increasing your dose. Simply take one puff and wait ten minutes for the full onset of effects. From there you can decide if more CBD is necessary and quickly stack on another fast-acting puff. 

A Note About CBD and Drug Interactions

Cannabidiol has been labeled safe by many leading organizations, including the World Health Organization. However, it is important to consider the unique characteristics of your health and wellness routine in order to determine any potential risks. 

One common concern is the risk of drug interactions between CBD and prescription medications. This is because CBD is metabolized by the same liver enzymes as the majority of other drugs, or the cytochrome P450 liver enzyme group.  As CBD passes through the liver, it may reduce the number of these enzymes available for metabolizing other substances, reducing the efficacy or some medications. 

Interactions could include many of the prescription medications taken for arthritis, like opioids, which act metabolized by the same liver enzymes.The interaction between these medications is not severe unless the medication is prescribed to treat life-threatening symptoms. CBD may only lower the amount of the medication that is able to reach the bloodstream. 

On that note, this effect is only temporary. Many people find that there is no significant reaction between CBD and their regular medications. You may also be able to avoid interactions by taking CBd at a separate time than other substances. If you are concerned about drug interactions or already take daily medications, you should talk to your doctor about CBD to help get you started.