For thousands of years, cannabis has been used medicinally as a pain reliever, and today, as more and more jurisdictions continue to legalize the medicinal use of the widely banned plant, pain remains the most common reason commonplace in its use.
It is therefore not surprising that interest in the potential of medical cannabis as a treatment for osteoarthritis has increased in recent years. Since arthritis and osteoarthritis are inflammatory diseases associated with pain, discomfort, and reduced quality of life, many believe that medical cannabis may be a useful therapy for people living with the disease. But is there any evidence of this?
What is arthritis and osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is a common inflammatory condition affecting the joints that causes pain and discomfort. It can also affect other areas of life, including mobility, the ability to perform daily tasks, and overall quality of life. Different forms of arthritis - including the most common types: Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are estimated to affect over 10 million people in France. Therefore, identifying effective treatment options is an important area to consider.
No cure has yet been found for arthritis/osteoarthritis, and current treatment methods aim to control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
A number of treatment options are currently in use, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid -based pain relievers.
However, while these therapies may be effective in the short term, evidence suggests that their effectiveness diminishes over time , not to mention the significant risk of addiction and overdose associated with opioids.
The unfavorable benefit-risk profile of many arthritis and osteoarthritis treatment options has led many people to seek out alternative therapies, including cannabis.
Medical cannabis to treat osteoarthritis?
A growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis and its derivatives may be helpful in relieving pain and inflammation, in addition to improving quality of life.
The two most common cannabinoids - CBD and THC - have been the subject of recent studies to assess these potential benefits. Although high-quality clinical evidence remains limited (thanks to decades of prohibition), several studies have shown that medical cannabis may benefit pain conditions, including arthritis.
And it's not just a theoretical link: a 2019 study of more than 1,000 arthritis patients found that 37% had tried cannabis to manage arthritis and 57% had tried CBD products. Additionally, 97% of those who said they had tried cannabis said it improved their symptoms; 93% of CBD users also reported improvement in arthritis symptoms. But are these results confirmed by other clinical and real studies?
more evidence on the effectiveness of cannabis for osteoarthritis
In recent years, several studies have focused on the potential of medical cannabis as a treatment for arthritis. Many of them have evaluated the self-reported effects of various medical cannabis preparations. For example, researchers in a 2022 study developed a new, anonymous questionnaire that was administered to a sample of arthritis patients. Participants were recruited through various channels, including social media accounts and newsletters.
After analyzing participants' responses, it was found that respondents associated CBD use with improvements in pain (83%), physical function (66%) and quality of sleep (66%). .
Additionally, the majority of participants also reported reducing or completely stopping the use of other medications , including anti-inflammatories , opioids , and acetaminophen, after starting to use CBD.
Various other studies have shown that medical cannabis can be helpful in improving pain and quality of life - two major causes in arthritis patients. For example, a 2016 study found that medical cannabis use was associated with reduced pain . improve functional outcomes and reduce opioid consumption.
Cannabis Medical, How does it work?
Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC - and a number of other compounds produced by the cannabis plant - are known to interact with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). This receptor system plays an important role in a number of important physiological and cognitive functions, including pain and inflammation signaling. Therefore, the SEC is considered a potentially effective target for new therapies to treat pain.
Video on the role of the encannabinoid system on the body:
SEC also plays a role in mood regulation, which means it can be an effective target for treating conditions such as anxiety and depression. This explains why more and more people are trying CBD products as an alternative way to manage stress.
In the clinical setting, this potential anti-anxiety property can help improve the quality of life for patients with a wide range of conditions.
Obtaining a medical cannabis prescription for arthritis or osteoarthritis in France?
Although cannabis was entered into an experimental program in 2021, a recent study revealed that millions of people in France still use recreational cannabis products obtained on the black market for self-medication.
This situation is largely due to the persistent obstacles to the treatment of medical cannabis in France. Since cannabis was authorized as part of an experiment, the ANSM has so far only approved three medical cannabis prescriptions.
For more information on how to access a medical cannabis prescription, see:
How to get a medical cannabis prescription in France