CBD Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis [Understanding Endocannabinoids]
It’s important to understand that rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two significantly different things. While both disorders involve pain and inflammation of the joints, there are important differences with regard to the underlying causes of each.
The most substantial and obvious difference between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis is that rheumatoid (RA) is an autoimmune disorder, while osteo (OA) is a mechanical disorder. Simply put, this means that immune cells (white blood cells) are responsible for the breakdown of connective joint tissue in RA, while breakdown of tissue in OA is the simple result of age, injury, and/or general wear and tear.
Taking this into consideration, the use of CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis has spiked dramatically in recent years in direct response to new data showing the potential role of the endocannabinoid system in reversing the autoimmune effects of the disease.
In this article, I’ll talk more about the actual physiological effects of RA, and discuss what role CBD oil plays in decreasing the likelihood of potential attacks on healthy joint tissue.
CBD Oil for RA – Understanding more about the disease
In victims who suffer from RA, the synovial fluid within joint areas is targeted and attacked by the body’s own immune cells. Normally, the synovial fluid acts a lubricating, protective barrier and allows for smooth movement of bodily joints like the knees, hips, ankles, and fingers. When the tissue is attacked and degraded, however, the fluid loses its ability to lubricate and the bones begin rubbing against one other. This causes the severe pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Traditionally, individuals between the ages of 40 and 60 have been most prone to developing RA, even though it’s not necessarily a result of bodily wear and tear. For some reason (likely as a result of an internal molecular trigger), specialized T-cells in the body recognize the synovial tissue as “harmful,” and thus begin attacking it.
Other risk factors associated with rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Sex (women are statistically three times more likely to develop the condition than men)
- Genes (there is definitely a genetic factor associated with onset RA, though scientists are unclear what gene(s) are specifically involved)
- Obesity (obese individuals are statistically proven to have significantly slowed metabolisms, which can promote inflammation of joint tissue, including tissues of the synovial membrane)
Also, rheumatoid factor is a specific antigen that has been recognized and associated with onset RA, though doctors and researchers are still unclear what exactly it does in terms of instigating immune cells to attack healthy joint tissue. Simple blood tests can show the presence (or lack thereof) of rheumatoid factor in most individuals, but this is not necessarily an indication that the individual will develop full blown rheumatoid arthritis.
In terms of conventional treatment, RA has most commonly been treated in the past with simple analgesics (pain relievers), including over-the-counter NSAID’s like Advil, Bayer, and ibuprofen in mild cases. For more severe cases, biologics and high strength pharmaceutical drugs called DMARD’s (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) are often necessary, though these medications (such as methotrexate) are dangerous in that they suppress the immune system, which rather drastically raises the possibility for infection.
Opioid painkillers are also a popular conventional treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis, but of course the dangerous risks associated with abuse, addiction, and overdose in these kinds of drugs are well-documented. For many thousands of users, CBD oil for arthritis is proving to be an incredibly effective alternative treatment option with negligible risks and practically zero side effects.
How CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis works with the endocannabinoid system
In terms of functionality, it’s believed that CBD oil for rheumatoid arthritis may actually work by suppressing T-cell activity at the site of joint inflammation. This is different from conventional RA and OA treatments in that it may actual allow the underlying cause of the disease to be treated, rather than just the symptoms.
While the exact mechanisms are not fully understand, it’s recognized that T-cells likely play a crucial role in the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. For whatever reason, molecular triggers signal for the immune (T-cell) attack on healthy synovial tissue, thereby inducing the inflammation and subsequent pain associated with RA. If, as studies have shown, CBD oil is actually able to suppress this unnatural T-cell activity, researchers may be on to perhaps the only natural medication that’s actually able to treat the underlying cause of arthritis.
Additionally, it’s important to understand how CBD oil works to interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, or ECS. In short, the ECS is a vast network of naturally-occurring cannabinoids (just like CBD) and cannabinoid receptors. These receptors have been found all throughout the human body, including in the synovial tissue that’s targeted and attacked by immune cells in rheumatoid arthritis.
When a patient takes CBD oil, the ECS receptors are stimulated so as to be able to respond to the influx of new cannabinoids (which is the CBD oil). When the CBD binds to the receptors in the body, the substrate becomes active and begins working to regulate pain, suppress inflammation, and improve overall joint function.
And lastly, CBD oil is a well-known and very well-documented anti-inflammatory, so the majority of RA sufferers can expect to find significant joint pain relief when taking the medication, regardless of whatever internal mechanisms the cannabinoid may have on T-cells or the immune response.
What’s the best CBD oil for arthritis?
A lot of people like to use topical CBD oils, creams, and salves as rheumatoid arthritis treatment. These medications are fast-acting, and incredibly simple to use. All you do is massage the ointment into the affected area, and the active CBD compound is absorbed into the tissue where it begins interacting with receptors of the ECS.
Likewise, oral CBD tinctures are also effective at treating rheumatoid arthritis. These oils usually come in a dropper or spray bottle, and are administered sublingually (under the tongue). Absorptive tissues work to absorb the active CBD compounds, at which point they enter into the bloodstream and travel to the site of inflammation. This type of CBD oil usually takes longer to begin working, but patients can expect the effects and therapeutic relief to be longer-lasting than topical creams or ointments.
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