Some studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) oil could help relieve arthritis pain, improves sleep, and reduce anxiety.

CBD oil contains extracts from cannabis plants. Some people use it to relieve pain associated with chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

This article looks at the scientific evidence behind the benefits, uses, and side effects of CBD oil. It will also discuss whether or not it may be an effective treatment for arthritis and chronic pain.

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CBD oil is an oil that derives from the cannabis plant. Unlike other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it does not produce a euphoric “high” that people often associate with using cannabis. This is because CBD does not affect the same receptors in the body as THC.

There are many CBD oil products available, and the amount of CBD in them may vary.

As many people use cannabis as a recreational drug, there is some conflicting evidence surrounding the medicinal use of products containing cannabis plant ingredients. Many CBD products also undergo stringent legal scrutiny.

For example, hemp is a product that comes from the cannabis plant. Lawmakers legalized the substance under the Farm Bill, as long as products contain less than 0.3% THC.

Learn more about hemp oil versus cannabis oil.

Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Some research suggests that CBD oil may be useful for pain relief and other conditions.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting around 58.5 million people.

Two of the most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where a person’s immune system attacks their joints, causing inflammation. It commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that some people with arthritis who use CBD report noticeable pain relief, improved sleep, or reduced anxiety.

However, it also states that there have been no rigorous clinical studies in humans with arthritis to confirm this. The organization has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study and regulate CBD products.

Some animal studies suggest that CBD could help treat arthritis and relieve associated inflammatory pain. For example:

  • A 2017 study found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment option for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.
  • A 2016 study found that the topical application of CBD had the potential to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • A 2014 review looking into animal research concluded that CBD may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
  • A 2011 study found that CBD helped reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting how pain receptors respond to stimuli.

However, to date, there is a lack of conclusive scientific evidence to prove that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment for humans. Evidence notes that a cannabis-based mouth spray called Sativex may help relieve arthritis pain. However, the cannabis plant extracts that the company uses to make the spray contain both CBD and THC.

Although findings so far have been encouraging, more research is necessary to confirm that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.

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Cannabinoids, such as CBD, interact with receptors that influence pain and inflammation in the body. Scientists believe that CBD affects how these receptors respond to the signals they receive, possibly helping reduce inflammation and pain.

The National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health states that cannabis or CBD could have modest benefits for chronic pain.

Much of the research into CBD for chronic pain has looked at neuropathic, or nerve-related, pain. For example, a 2017 review found that CBD helped with chronic neuropathic pain in humans.

A 2020 review reports that CBD could have benefits for relieving chronic pain, improving sleep, and reducing inflammation. However, the research states that these effects are specific to certain conditions.

The researchers also say that using CBD may come with risks, such as drug interactions and harmful ingredients in unregulated products.

Learn more about CBD and chronic pain.

More research is still necessary to investigate the safety and potential effects of CBD and CBD products. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that people usually tolerate CBD well. CBD is not responsible for the high that many people may associate with cannabis. Additionally, this cannabinoid does not have the same potential for misuse as cannabis.

Additionally, a 2020 systematic review suggests that people generally have a good tolerance for CBD, and taking it does not result in any adverse events. However, the review also highlights that the dosage and administration method may affect safety.

Currently, CBD products do not have FDA approval. This may mean that it is difficult to know if a CBD product is safe and effective for everyone to use. If a person is considering CBD oil, they should discuss this with their doctor.

CBD products are available in many different formulations. People can use the instructions on the label and packaging to help them determine how often to use the product, how much to use, and how to apply it. Dosage will vary depending on factors such as body weight and potency. Health experts advise individuals new to CBD to start with the lowest possible dosage and gradually increase it if necessary.

People can take CBD oil orally. They can use a pipette or dropper to place a drop of CBD oil under their tongue or add it to food or drink. People can also use other oral formats such as capsules or sprays. Additionally, manufacturers can add CBD oil to topical products, such as creams, gels, or lotions, that people can apply to arthritis-affected skin.

As the FDA does not regulate CBD products the same way it regulates drugs, it is important to find and use quality products. Additionally, people should speak with a doctor before using CBD oil.

Small-scale studies have found that people generally tolerate CBD well. However, some individuals may experience mild side effects.

These include:

Clinical trials of Epidiolex, a CBD medication that the FDA has approved to treat rare forms of epilepsy, did not find any indications of physical dependence.

However, there are concerns that CBD might interfere with an enzyme called cytochrome P450 complex. This enzyme supports the liver’s ability to break down toxins. CBD may therefore increase the risk of a rise in liver toxicity.

Additionally, people should speak with their doctor before taking CBD. It may interact with certain over-the-counter dietary supplements, aids, and prescribed medications.

Taking CBD alongside medications that warn about possible interactions with grapefruit also requires particular consideration.

The FDA has approved one form of CBD, Epidiolex, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy as well as seizures due to a rare condition called tuberous sclerosis complex.

The Arthritis Foundation cautions that CBD could interact with certain arthritis drugs. Therefore, the organization recommends consulting a doctor before trying CBD when taking any of the following drugs:

  • corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • naproxen (Aleve)
  • tofacitinib (Xeljanz)
  • celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • tramadol (Ultram)
  • some antidepressants, including amitriptyline (Elavil), citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • some medications for fibromyalgia, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica)

People should exercise caution when taking oral CBD products alongside high fat meals. High fat meals can dramatically increase the blood concentrations of CBD, which can increase the risk of side effects.

CBD is legal in some states in the U.S., but not all of them. Therefore, people should check the laws in their area before purchasing or taking CBD oil.

Some individuals may also have an allergic reaction to CBD oil, so it is best to try applying it to a small area of skin first.

As with any alternative treatment, experts recommend speaking with a doctor before trying CBD oil.

CBD oil shows promise as a treatment for arthritis-related pain. If it affects receptors in the brain and immune system in the way that researchers believe, it may reduce inflammation and pain.

However, there is limited evidence from human studies to support the benefits of CBD oil, as there are restrictions around the use and research of cannabis. As the substance is becoming legalized in various regions, research is gaining momentum and yielding promising results.

That said, more studies are necessary before researchers can say with certainty that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.


Will CBD help with arthritis, and will it be better than the drugs that are currently available?


At a time when we are trying to reduce the use of pain relievers, CBD oil can be an effective approach to managing the pain of arthritis. Researchers have also recognized the role that CBD could play in reducing the pain-causing inflammation of arthritis.

However, its effectiveness will vary from person to person. People should work with their doctor to determine the right balance of CBD oil, other medications, and self-care. This may work better than the medications a person is currently taking.

Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHTAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.