Older Americans, disappointed in the lack of effective treatment for their painful joints, are turning to legal hemp oil for relief.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting more than 50 million Americans. Doctors usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat the disease. But common side effects include swollen ankles, heartburn, stomach ulcers, and an increased likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
Increasingly, some people are willing to go slightly out of their comfort zone to ease the pain with a product related to a plant long demonized by the federal government: marijuana. However, hemp and marijuana vary in appearance, chemical makeup, and cultivation despite both belonging to the cannabis family. Hemp oil is perfectly legal and available for delivery right to your door, or at retailers in every state.
What is CBD oil?
Hemp and marijuana are both in the cannabis family. Cannabis plants contain more than 85 cannabinoids, but it’s the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that produces weed’s classic “high.” By contrast, hemp is extremely low in THC but high in cannabidiol (CBD), which is believed to act with the body’s natural systems to reduce swelling and pain and regulate sleep and appetite. Hemp is so low in THC (less than .3 percent compared to 5-35 percent in marijuana) that it’s impossible to consume or inhale enough to experience psychotropic effects.
CBD oil is a natural plant product that gained exposure on CNN’s documentary “Weed.” The film is narrated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a chief neurosurgeon who changed his view of marijuana from negative to positive after thorough research. CBD itself has been at the center of more than 23,000 research studies examining its usefulness for conditions including anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer and chronic pain.
Side Effects of CBD
It’s important to reiterate that CBD does not produce a euphoric effect. It will not impede or alter your sensory awareness, perception, consciousness, reaction time or behavior.
There are a few side effects that CBD may produce: nausea, sleeping issues, and irritability. Mild withdrawal symptoms are possible, although it’s not clear if they arise from a return of the original pain and anxiety.
CBD for Pain Relief
CBD oil has shown promise for relief of pain and inflammation in early studies. CBD products provide an attractive alternative first step before going to known habit-forming medications such as opioids. CBD also has the advantage of fewer side effects and potential interactions with other drugs. At this point, however, CBD products aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nor are they regulated for purity and dosage like other medicines. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor if you’re considering using CBD for a medical condition.
That said, research suggests that CBD interacts with receptors in the brain and the immune system. The receptors are miniature proteins connected to cells that receive chemical signals and help the cells respond to stimuli. One such receptor, called CB2, plays a part in pain and inflammation management. Researchers think that CBD may work by attaching to CB2 receptors, or that CBD causes the body to produce its own natural cannabinoids that then attach to the CB2 receptors. Either way, scientists speculate that this changes the way the receptors react to stimuli. One 2008 review of studies conducted in the late 1980s through 2007 found CBD was effective at reducing chronic pain and its accompanying insomnia.
A more recent study was done in 2016 specifically to determine if CBD oil could reduce the chronic pain of arthritis. Researchers applied CBD gel on rats four days in a row at four concentrations. Even after that short time, they observed reduced inflammation and general pain in the affected joints. However, more human studies are needed.