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Does CBD Work for RA?

First, know this. We know almost nothing about CBD (cannabidiol), if it works, how it works, or why it works. The reason is that cannabis, the plant from which the CBD derives, is still considered illegal by the U.S. federal government. That makes it almost impossible to study. There have been no clinical or randomized placebo trials done on CBD—or any other compound derived from cannabis. Cannabis itself hasn’t been subject to much scientific study yet, either, so almost all of what we know or believe we know about it is, basically, hearsay.

That said, a lot of people say they really like CBD. It’s one of more than 400 active compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD and its sibling, THC, are probably the best known of the bunch. But unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol), CBD is non-psychoactive—it won’t make you high.3 The two compounds work on the same receptors in the brain and throughout the body, but somehow (no studies yet, remember?) they light it up differently.

Although it’s technically illegal on a federal level, you can find CBD products all over the Internet. They tend to be a bit pricey, and it’s wise to shop around and try to find a reputable seller.

Proponents say that CBD is terrific at calming anxiety. In today’s world, that’s no little thing. And of course, marketing the stuff in everything from coffee to cupcakes is taking off like a flock of starlings at dawn as more and more states legalize cannabis both for medical and recreational use. Does CBD actually ease anxiety? As I mentioned above, no one really knows.

How about CBD’s pain-relieving properties?

The first thing I ever heard about CBD was that it could relieve joint pain caused by rheumatoid disease. That exciting little nugget of info came to me directly from a young friend who also has RD. She says she always carries a tiny, purse-sized pot of it around when she travels because, as she puts it, “I can’t use cannabis legally in most states, but I can rub a little CBD salve into my joints to ease the pain for a while.” She swore it helped when she was hurting.

Naturally, I was all ears. Like many RD patients, I’m always looking for something relatively cheap, safe, and effective for pain relief.

So, I went online and, after reading everything I could find about it, purchased a small pot of thick, greenish-gold salve in which CBD oil was just one of many, many ingredients. These included coconut and olive oils, beeswax, grapeseed oil, essential oils like arnica, St. John’s wort, green tea extract, lavender, and the sulfur compounds DMSO and MSM, both of which have long been used to relieve osteoarthritis pain. The salve (as you might guess, given its myriad of aromatic, herbal ingredients) had a strong, weedy scent.

I rubbed some gently into the achy knuckles at the base of my fingers, and more on my wrists, which were also sore that day. The stuff melted quickly and pleasantly into my skin as I massaged it in, leaving behind a slightly oily, slightly stinky herbal residue. Then I settled down to wait for the pain relief to start. Nothing happened. I waited some more. Still, nothing happened. An hour later, I could still smell the herby CBD salve but my knuckles and wrists felt just the same as they had when I first rubbed it in.

I was disappointed. And I was also glad I’d used it at home and didn’t plan to go out. That smell…

Cannabis and CBD have many promising prospects, including properties that might calm inflammation, ease chronic pain, and calm seizures. But right at the moment, the jury is out.1,2 Buy CBD salve online, or, if you live in a state that’s legalized cannabis, at a brick-and-mortar store and give it a try. My friend believes it helps relieve her RD pain. Maybe it will yours, too!

Have you tried CBD oil or salve for pain relief? Please share your experience with us in the comment section. And for more information, I’ve assembled a small list of online articles in the references below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  • Aschwanden, Cindy. Does CBD Really Do Anything? Five Thirty Eight, 25 September 2018. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/you-can-get-cannabis-in-your-coffee-but-does-is-it-really-do-anything/
  •         Nosowitz, Dan. CBD is Everywhere. But is it a Scam? Vox.com, 17 January 2019. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/11/1/18024806/cbd-oil-vape-hemp
  •         Kohn, David. A Powerful New Form of Medical Marijuana, Without the High. Washington Post, 31 December 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-powerful-new-form-of-medical-marijuana-without-the-high/2016/12/29/81bbf7c0-b5b2-11e6-b8df-600bd9d38a02_story.html?utm_term=.ed4a27909937

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