Arthritis Foundation Issues CBD Guidelines

The Arthritis Foundation recently issued guidelines for the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for pain among patients with arthritis.

Although CBD remains an understudied treatment avenue for the management of rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions, patients are still exploring its use on their own. A study earlier this year found that more than half of arthritis patients have tried CBD and/or medical marijuana for pain relief.

“The Arthritis Foundation is aware of the growing popularity and availability of CBD-based products. Industry reports show that people with arthritis are among the top buyers, and pain is the leading reason for purchase,” the Arthritis Foundation wrote in its guidelines, adding, “While currently there is limited scientific evidence about CBD’s ability to help ease arthritis symptoms, and no universal quality standards or regulations exist, we have listened to our constituents and consulted with leading experts to develop these general recommendations for adults who are interested in trying CBD.”

CBD: Experts Weigh In

Three experts were consulted: Kevin Boehnke, PhD, a researcher at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan; Daniel Clauw, MD, a professor of anesthesiology, rheumatology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan and director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center; and Mary Ann Fitzcharles, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

“CBD, short for cannabidiol, is an active compound found in the cannabis plant,” the Arthritis Foundation defines. “CBD is not intoxicating but may cause some drowsiness. The CBD in most products is extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis that has only traces (up to 0.3%) of THC, the active compound that gets people high.”

Among its key takeaways, the guidelines note that while symptoms of pain, insomnia, and anxiety may improve with CBD use, to date “there have been no rigorous clinical studies in people with arthritis to confirm this.” Moderate doses of CBD have not been linked to any safety concerns, but “potential drug interactions have been identified.”

CBD use is not meant to replace disease-modifying drugs, which are used to prevent long-lasting joint damage. It should only be purchased from a vendor “that has each batch tested for purity, potency and safety by an independent laboratory and provides a certificate of analysis.” Regarding dosing, the experts suggest starting low and gradually increasing weekly if pain relief is not achieved.

It is also important to discuss CBD use with your doctor, per the guidelines.

To view the guidelines in full, click here.

Kaitlyn D’Onofrio is a digital medical writer. She is interested in musculoskeletal health, the effect of exercise on health, and mental health awareness. When she’s not writing for DocWire, Kaitlyn is teaching yoga classes in her community, promoting wellness to her students.