Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful, debilitating condition that affects a patient’s joints. Unlike other forms of arthritis, RA is an autoimmune disease that develops when a patient’s immune system, which is supposed to support and protect against disease and injury, mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
No one knows what factors cause patients to get rheumatoid arthritis — genetics, infection or environmental factors — and there is no cure for this disorder. Doctors work with RA patients to find treatments that help them manage painful symptoms or lead to extended periods of remission.
Medical marijuana is emerging as an effective treatment option for several conditions. Because of its pain-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis is also an excellent option for patients with RA. Instead of just focusing on one symptom, marijuana works on many fronts to help patients live better lives.
If you’re interested in using medical marijuana as a treatment option for your arthritis symptoms, you may be confused by the number of methods for using cannabis. Two of the most popular choices for patients with RA are tinctures and vaporization.
Cannabis is no longer considered a “stoner drug.” Thousands of patients across the U.S. look to this unassuming plant for relief from debilitating symptoms, and patients with rheumatoid arthritis are no different. Cannabis effectively treats many of the side effects they suffer from every day, including:
Unlike many other medications used to treat RA, medical marijuana works for multiple symptoms, making it an effective method to wean patients off other forms of medicine. Many pharmaceutical options are accompanied by severe side effects, including decreased immunity. Cannabis has very few unwanted side effects, and most patients can use it and live full and productive lives.
There is no right or wrong way to use medical marijuana. In some states, vaporization is limited or prohibited, but many states allow you to work with your doctor or dispensary to find the best consumption method for you. If your state allows this, experiment with vaporization and tinctures to see if one way treats your condition more efficiently.
Smoking marijuana is the most common way people consume cannabis. However, inhaling the burning components of the plant is not good for your lungs. This is especially true for patients with rheumatoid arthritis — smoking is known to aggravate the condition and cause flare-ups. It may even be an environmental factor that causes patients to become more susceptible to the disorder in the first place.
Vaporization is similar to smoking, but still different. Instead of burning the cannabis, patients use a vaporization apparatus to bring the plant to the brink of its burning point, which releases vapors that can be inhaled by the patient, rather than smoke.
The benefit of vaporizing cannabis is that, like smoking, the users feel the effects of the plant almost instantaneously, allowing patients with painful symptoms to get the relief they need quickly. The drawback is mostly the initial cost of a vaporization apparatus, which can be quite pricey. Also, the effects of vaping wear off faster than some other methods of consumption.
With the rise of medical marijuana in the U.S., the use of tinctures has increased. This method involves placing drops of cannabis medication under the tongue. The solution, which may be alcohol or oil based, is absorbed into the bloodstream within seconds.
This method requires no special ingestion apparatus and makes using cannabis medications quite easy. It’s also the preferred method for children in need of medical marijuana. The effects can last up to eight hours, offering patients extended periods of relief.
The main downside is the amount of time it takes to feel the effects of the cannabis. Sometimes, users don’t feel the full extent of the effects for up to an hour.
Whether you choose tinctures or vaporization, all medical marijuana-related decisions should be made under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. Let MarijuanaDoctors.com help you find a physician in your state. We also have a database of nearby marijuana dispensaries with budtenders trained to answer any questions you have.