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Medical Marijuana and Arthritis

Currently, more than 100 medications and drugs are used in the treatment of arthritis. Many of these drugs, however, can cause serious side effects.

There are five main classes of drugs used to treat this condition: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics. Here is a brief description of each along with some information about the potential side effects:

  • NSAIDs — A doctor typically recommends these drugs before stronger medications. There are certain over-the-counter NSAIDs such as Aleve and Advil, but most drugs in this class are stronger and require a prescription. Prescription NSAIDs include Etodolac, Flurbiprofen, Naproxen and others. They normally produce relatively minor side effects such as constipation, dry mouth and headache, but they can also lead to abdominal cramping, rapid weight gain, numbness and tingling of the extremities and more.
  • Analgesics — Analgesics are medications that are designed to relieve pain. You can find over-the-counter versions such as Tylenol, as well as powerful prescription drugs that are in the opioid class of medications, such as hydrocodone. Opioids are effective pain relievers, but they also carry a high risk of overdose, as well as abuse, by people who do not have a legitimate need for them. Any type of overdose can lead to severe health complications and even death.
  • Corticosteroids — Corticosteroids are synthetic medications that mimic the functions of the hormone cortisol, which controls inflammation. These drugs can be very beneficial, but they can also lead to severe side effects if taken in either high doses or over a long period. Possible side effects include mood changes, memory problems, fluid retention, high blood pressure and more.
  • DMARDs — Drugs in this classification include Arava, Plaquenil, Xeljanz and others. They are slow-acting medications that can take weeks to begin showing results, and designed to lessen the chances of permanent damage to the joints. They also work to slow the progression of arthritis. Patients have reported serious issues when taking DMARDs, such as eye problems, upset stomach, liver damage and birth defects.
  • Biologics — Biologics, also known as Biologic Response Modifiers, are very similar to DMARDs. They target specific cells and proteins that are linked to inflammatory arthritis. Most biologics must be administered intravenously. Side effects include fever, nausea, chills, headache and an increased risk for infections.

Many patients who suffer from arthritis have opted instead to use medical marijuana, which is an affordable, natural alternative that lacks the side effects found in the medicines traditionally used to treat arthritis. These patients have seen excellent results with medical marijuana, with improved movement, less pain, and less use of other medications.

Experts believe certain strains of marijuana can specifically help those suffering from arthritis. Strains of medical cannabis for arthritis include Pennywise, a form of indica that has mild psychoactive effects. Harlequin, which is a sativa, is very popular because it provides a relaxing sensation without making the user feel like he or she is sedated. Cannatonic is a hybrid strain that provides a very relaxing, mellow high that is extremely relaxing, while AC/DC is a sativa that does not alter perception or mood.

Once you receive a recommendation from your doctor to receive medical marijuana for arthritis, have a talk with a professional at your local dispensary. He or she will be able to direct you toward the best strains to ease your discomfort.

Recent research has shown that medicinal marijuana can be an effective alternative arthritis treatment. For example, the Journal of Neuroimmunology stated in a 2005 article titled "Cannabinoids and the Immune System: Potential For the Treatment of Inflammatory Diseases?" by J. Ludovic and Takashi Yamamura, that cannabinoids may be considered for treatment of inflammatory disease such as arthritis.

Additionally, Ethan Russo, MD, Senior Medical Advisor at the Cannabinoid Research Institute, stated in a 2005 Americans for Safe Access brochure titled "Arthritis and Medical Marijuana": Science has now demonstrated that the THC component of cannabis is a very effective analgesic (pain killer), and that the CBD (cannabidiol) component has unique immunomodulatory benefits as an antagonist of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, supporting benefits in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

If you suffer from arthritis and would like to learn how medical marijuana can help your condition, book an appointment with a local, qualified physician through today. Let us help improve your quality of life!



This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals.  If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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