Arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints of the body. It is common among the elderly and worsens with age. Common symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling of joints, stiffness, redness in the joint area and decreased range of motion. There are two kinds of arthritis; osteoarthritis resulting in the break- down of cartilage which covers bones at the joints and rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting the knees, hips, lower back, hands and neck. It is simply the effect of aging.
Arthritis is caused by the wear and tear damage of cartilage or an attack of the joint’s lining by the body’s immune system. Consequently, arthritis leads to the complete wearing out of the bone cartilage or joint lining causing excruciating pain in the joints. Persistent arthritis leads to the loss of mobility. It is one of the leading causes of disability. Arthritis can only be treated using anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation or analgesics to reduce the pain.
Cannabis, commonly referred to as marijuana, is a herb that produces cannabinoids especially THC along with a range of other cannabinoids. It is the only plant that has psychotropic properties which makes it very unique. Cannabis predominantly contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is psychoactive (affecting the mental process) making it the most adversely abused drug in the world. It is used for medicinal, industrial and recreational purposes. Studies have also shown that marijuana is useful in alleviating the symptoms of some diseases.
Marijuana is widely known as a pain reliever. It has two cannabinoids which are specific in the treatment of arthritis. CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have a profound efficiency in ameliorating the pain associated with arthritis. CBD is the cannabinoid responsible for immune system modulation.
Cannabis and rheumatoid arthritis
As mentioned earlier, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the attack of the body’s immune system on the linings of joints. The CBD cannabinoid is very effective in such a case since it modulates the immune system preventing it from attacking the joint linings. CBD is efficient in treating autoimmune disorders.
Cannabis and inflammation
Arthritis is known to cause inflammation and swelling of the joints. THC has been found to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. In effect, it reduces the inflammation of the joints which is indicated by reduced swelling of the joints.
As mentioned earlier, arthritis can lead to the complete loss of mobility. If this progresses, it confines one to a wheelchair and to constant dependence on others. The loss of independence and the restrictions to movement cause despair especially to those who were previously capable of moving from place to place. As a result, they may suffer from depression and emotional distress. THC is known to have a calming effect thereby reducing anxiety. Cannabis gives the feeling of euphoria to such individuals, riding them of depressive thoughts.
Cannabis compared to pharmaceuticals
Many sufferers of arthritis are prone to the constant use of pharmaceutical drugs to treat the pain. Cannabis helps to wean them off the effects of the prolonged used of these drugs. A range of pharmaceutical drugs have detrimental effects on the body especially if taken consistently and constantly. However, cannabis as a natural herb with natural properties is capable of neutralizing these effects.
It is common for arthritis victims to lack sleep due to the chronic pain. Sleeplessness may also lead to mental disorders causing the deterioration of the patient’s health. Cannabis relieves this pain, and restores the sleeping cycle of the patient. In the end, further complications from sleep disorders are avoided.
Individuals who have arthritis tend to lack an appetite either due to their inability to prepare a meal or generally due to the pain. The lack of appetite results in general weight loss. Cannabis is a great appetite stimulant and a pain reliever. Therefore, the affected individual is able to prepare a meal comfortably without the pain and to enjoy it as well.
Clearly, the efficacy of marijuana in treating chronic pain is unprecedented. The functioning of joints due to constant pain are restored and a person can live a full life free from pain. Research and the experiences of victims show that regular and controlled use of cannabis restores the functions of dysfunctional parts of the body.
A majority of any country’s population suffer from arthritis especially the elderly who are skeptical about the use of marijuana to treat it. As a result, many of them suffer in pain yet they have a viable solution. The stigma associated with use of cannabis has made it irrelevant in many countries. Moreover, countries have rejected and set regulations against the use of marijuana going further by setting jail terms to individuals caught using or possessing it.
This shouldn’t be the case. As medicine evolves to a new dispensation, it is important that countries and medical companies invest in the research of the benefits of cannabis in treating arthritis. It is of no use for people to perish because of lacking knowledge. Governments should set it place laws that favor the growth, usage and production of medicinal cannabis as it is efficient in treating many disease.
Arthritis lowers the quality of life of its victims because body function is always determined by functioning joints. Those living with arthritis should explore the possibility of using cannabis to alleviate their pain without fear of stigmatization. However, they should also be weary of the side effects of marijuana with a high THC content such as memory loss.
The utility of cannabis as a medicinal drug requires dedication of more resources into research and proper government regulation. There is still more to be done to determine the viability of marijuana as an efficient medical drug. In the meantime, it shows great promise in increasing the quality of life of arthritis patients.