Cannabis May Combat Rheumatoid Arthritis
How Cannabis May Combat Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis means inflammation in a joint. That inflammation causes redness, warmth, swelling, and pain within the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects joints on both sides of the body, such as both hands, both wrists, or both knees. This symmetry helps to set it apart from other types of arthritis.
RA can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, or nerves.
Cannabis has been used to help treat the inflammatory symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for years. Despite anecdotal success, past research offers little insight into the mechanism involved in treating the condition with cannabis.
Researchers Investigate Potential Cannabinoid Treatment
Before diving into the study, it’s helpful to know that fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) are the type of cells most often associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis. They become constantly engaged in inflammatory mechanisms, which causes cartilage damage, joint destruction, and deformation over time.
As we know, there are currently two widely-acknowledged cannabinoid receptors. Some suggest that more could exist, but not all are in agreement. Nonetheless, activation of the CB2 receptor in particular has shown promise in treating a number of inflammatory conditions.
“Activation of the CB2 receptor – which occurs when one consumes cannabis – could be a potential therapeutic target of rheumatoid arthritis.”
A team of researchers from China sought to determine whether a similar mechanism could be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis. In doing so, they investigated the potential effects of CB2 receptor activation in FLS-cell types.
According to their results, rheumatoid arthritis cell-types showed an increased amount of CB2 receptor expression. Further, activating the CB2 receptors seems to have inhibited the proliferation of the FLS cells associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Medical Cannabis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
In conclusion, the Chinese team of researchers determined that activation of the CB2 receptor – which occurs when one consumes cannabis – could be a potential therapeutic target of for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Of course, the idea of applying cannabis extracts to the skin is nothing new. Cannabis infused topicals are a common method of treatment for joint pain, because they allow patients to target the areas in need of the most relief.
Who Gets Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Anyone can get RA. It affects about 1% of Americans.
The disease is two to three times more common in women than in men, but men tend to have more severe symptoms.
It usually starts in middle age. But young children and the elderly also can get it.
What Causes It?
Doctors don’t know the exact cause. Something seems to trigger the immune system to attack the joints and sometimes other organs. Some experts think that a virus or bacteria may change the immune system, causing it to attack the joints. Other theories suggest that in some people, smoking may lead to rheumatoid arthritis.
Certain genetic patterns may make some people more likely to get RA than others.
How Does It Affect the Body?
Immune system cells move from the blood into the joints and joint-lining tissue, called synovium. Once they arrive, those immune system cells create inflammation, which wears down cartilage (the cushioning material at the end of bones). As the cartilage wears down, the space between the bones narrows. As it gets worse, the bones could rub against each other.
Inflammation of the joint lining causes swelling and makes fluid build-up within the joint. As the lining expands with inflammatory cells, it can produce substances that damage the bone.
All of these things cause the joint to become very painful, swollen, and warm to the touch.