How to use CBD for Arthritis & Joint Pain
You’d be surprised at what a joint can do for joint pain. CBD and THC—two of the active compounds in cannabis—do wonders for those suffering from joint pain. That’s because weed doesn’t just get you high: it can also naturally supply you with pain management, increased dexterity, and an overall improved quality of life.
If you’ve been relying on synthetic pain medication and pills, this article is for you: it’s time to say goodbye to the pharmacy, and say hello to the dispensary. Read up, and learn how to best medicate and manage your joint pain through smoking marijuana, vaping oil, topical applications, and more.
What is CBD?
Let’s start with the basics. You’ve probably heard all about THC, but are you familiar with CBD? Unlike THC, which is a psychoactive compound and the main factor responsible for your high, CBD doesn’t produce mental effects, and instead supplies relief to those suffering from pain. In fact, according to California organization Project CBD, a non-profit “dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical uses of cannabidiol (CBD),” the uses of CBD go way beyond simple pain relief: “Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.”
How do CBD and THC Relieve Joint Pain?
Check out this video. After a brutal bout against UFC legend Conor McGregor, a bloodied up Nate Diaz is seen vaping in a press conference. He claims, “It’s CBD. It helps with healing process and inflammation.” Nate might not have rheumatoid arthritis, but if anyone can attest to the pain relief properties of CBD, it’s a bruised and broken man after a fight with one of the world’s most notorious fighters.
CBD affects your immune system, which naturally makes it helpful for an autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis—and the science doesn’t lie. A study published in the journal Rheumatology from Dr. Sheng-Ming Dai of China’s Second Military Medical University found that CB2 receptors are found in unusually high levels in the joint tissue of arthritis patients. The use of cannabis is shown to fight inflammation in the joints by activating the pathways of CB2 receptors.
But it’s not just CBD that can lend a helping hand. “Chronic pain is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, and when it comes to chronic pain, we have 9,000 patient years of data showing that THC [the active ingredient in cannabis] effectively treats it,” says Jahan Marcu, PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer for Americans for Safe Access, an organization devoted to the legalization of cannabis for therapeutic use. “Cannabinoids stop the transmission of pain and decrease inflammation, and that’s very important for people with joint issues.” On a basic level, THC is anti-inflammatory and analgesic (it kills pain), and it’s also known to reduce the anxiety and depression that goes with diseases (especially ailments that are cause a loss of mobility like rheumatoid arthritis). Have you ever read about how smoking weed can cause seizure patients to relax? Based on similar physiological principles, people with chronic pain and stiff joints may find that their body naturally loosens when using marijuana.
Essentially, all of these scientific studies support one of the key principles of medicinal marijuana: that both non-psychoactive CBD and psychoactive THC work wonders for those suffering from joint pain.
Smoking, Vaping, Tinctures, and Topical Ointments
Marijuana isn’t a drug of the future, it’s a drug of the past. People have been using marijuana as a source of pain relief for thousands of years. Gooey Rabinski, an aptly named author considering he writes about that sweet sticky icky, writes, “Until the dawn of the 20th century, pot—albeit in tincture form, not smoked—was the primary form of pain killer in the United States. One hundred years ago, if a young girl skinned her knee, she was given a marijuana tincture, not an orange and white Bayer aspirin.”
THC is omnipresent, but CBD has been historically more difficult to come across. However, in the contemporary golden age of cannabis culture (assuming you live in a state with legal medical and/or recreational marijuana), CBD is readily available to be vaped, smoked, applied topically, or taken (as folks have been doing for centuries) as a tincture. Here are a few tips to get your feet wet in the lovely world of CBD:
5 Tips to Relieve Joint Pain with CBD Weed:
Start with Smoking or Vaping
This is the easiest way to get CBD, especially if you’re in a state with less-than-hospitable marijuana laws. Be sure to check out our consumption guide to figure out the best method of marijuana intake for you, and then move into edibles or other methods if you find that gives you the best relief.
Apply a Topical Salve
Much like IcyHot or Tiger Balm, a topical CBD salve will help relieve pain from your joints and muscles. Of course, these are easily found in dispensaries, but tough to acquire in states without legal weed. Worry not, you can make a salve using the same extraction process used to make edibles.
Sample Each Strain Type
Sativas, indicas, and hybrids all have their strengths and weaknesses. Sample different strains, much like a wine-tasting, and see what works. You’ll be surprised at the sensation supplied by CBD-heavy strains—they’re calming, relaxing, with a powerful soothing effect that is a blessing for those with sore muscles and painful joints.
Experiment with THC and CBD Ratios
If you're buying weed from a dispensary, you’ll notice that they typically list both the THC percentage and the CBD percentage. Heavy-hitting THC-dominant strains are often in the 20-25% range, but may contain a negligible trace of CBD. Alternatively, CBD-dominant strains may have 10+% CBD and little to no THC. There are also blends and hybrids that meet somewhere in the middle. Speak with a professional budtender about different strains, and then try a little bit of this and a little bit of that to see what works best for you.
Try a Tincture
Nothing says old school like using a consumption method that’s been relied on for thousands of years. Though hilariously old-fashioned, the method is still incredibly effective and one of our favorites—a tincture can be just the ticket for your joint pain.
One thing’s for sure: for those suffering from chronic pain in their joints, a little bit of chronic can go a long way. Give CBD a shot, you might love the effects. Nick and I rely on CBD after every ski day, backpacking trip, and workout—there’s just nothing better from a natural pain relief and relaxation standpoint.
Thanks for reading, and remember, always take the high road,
Nick and Tommy