Hemp oil might be the answer for your patients with arthritis
Though there are currently approximately 54.4 million adult Americans with doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
This is condition now afflicting almost one in four individuals, or 22.7 percent of the population—that number is expected to increase to 78.4 million by the year 2040 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC also points out that two out of three future arthritis sufferers are expected to be women. Reasons for this appear to be somewhat unclear, but research published in BMC Medicine indicates that this is likely at least partially due to women’s unique genetic makeup and hormone composition, factors which lead them to be diagnosed with more autoimmune diseases than men.
While MedicineNet reports that some people afflicted with arthritis benefit from taking omega-3 supplements, adding more curcumin to their diet, and limiting their intake of red meat and gluten, thereby lowering their body’s levels of inflammation, research is also finding that hemp oil may ease their arthritis-related pain as well.
What hemp oil is
Hemp oil comes from seeds taken from the hemp plant which have been cold pressed. That makes this oil different than CBD (cannabidiol) oil as the latter is made from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant according to Healthline.
Hempseed oil is actually used to make a variety of products many of us use every day. Medical News Today (MNT) shares that many of them are food-related and include hemp milk, cheese, and protein powder.
MNT adds that, in addition to supplying foods a nutty flavor, hemp seeds have other benefits as well. Among them are being high in protein and a good source of omega-3. They’re also fiber-rich and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Hemp seeds reduce inflammation and help protect the heart.
Hemp oil research related to arthritis
All of these can benefit individuals struggling with arthritis and research has started to confirm it. For example, one 2016 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology shares that hempseed oil has an anti-rheumatoid effect on MH7A cells, one type of cell associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
A 2017 study in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found positive results as well. This one looked specifically at the brain effects of hemp oil and found that participants reported feeling “more energetic, relaxed, and calm” after simply inhaling hemp oil.
This is important since the Arthritis Foundation reports that stress can trigger an arthritis flare up. So, the more individuals with arthritis can begin to relax, the easier it is for them to maintain this inflammation-based condition.
Others are concerned that using hemp oil could get them high. However, the marijuana experts at Leafly indicate that this effect is unlikely because “most of the high-quality, reliable CBD-rich hemp oil products contain much less THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] than marijuana.” How can you tell whether a hemp oil is high in quality?
What to look for when purchasing hemp oil
One factor to consider, according to Ministry of Hemp, is the quality of the hemp the seeds are taken from. For this reason, the Ministry recommends choosing a company that sources its hemp from within the U.S. since it has more regulations than hemp sourced in other countries.
Another consideration is how the oil is extracted. Specifically, if the company uses gas stoves or ranges to extract their hemp oil, it is going to be lower quality than companies which use organic, pharmaceutical-grade ethanol or supercritical CO2 extraction according to the Ministry.
And if there is concern about whether the hemp oil can potentially cause a “high” feeling, the Ministry suggests reading its label to see how much THC it contains. If it has more than 0.3 percent, it could potentially have a psychoactive effect.
Finally, look for third-party lab results to ensure the hemp oil’s label is accurate with regard to its ingredients. This reduces the likelihood of purchasing an oil which contains impurities that can potentially cause users harm.
Can CBD Oil Help Manage Your Arthritis Pain?
As CBD oils, gels, creams, tinctures, and gummies continue to surge in popularity, so, too, do the claims that they help alleviate pain and inflammation. When it comes to using these products to manage arthritis pain, the medical community is split: Many doctors encourage their patients to seek out what works for them, while others prefer to wait for the hard, cold data.
Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Mayo Clinic Integrative Medicine and Health Research Program, recommends a cautioned approach to CBD, but he has seen many positive outcomes when used (he says several of his patients have reported success using CBD products to manage their arthritis). "It takes time to review current medications, look for potential drug-herb interactions, help the patient find a quality product, watch carefully for side-effects or liver toxicity, and so forth," he explains. "It's doable, but until we have more data, caution still needs to be the guiding principle." Ahead, Dr. Bauer shares his tips for treating arthritis pain with CBD oil—beginning with consulting your medical professional every step of the way.
First and foremost, check with your physician.
Dr. Bauer advises his arthritis patients to use caution when testing these products. "Because CBD can interfere with the metabolism of many prescription drugs, don't start a CBD product without first reviewing it with your primary care team. If you get the clearance to try it, look for products from companies that have Good Manufacturing Practices certification in the United States, E.U., and Australia," he says. "Also look for companies that have an independent company handle any reports of adverse events related to their products. It takes a little work, but I believe this is currently the best way to find those (few) companies which are deeply committed to providing the highest quality products."
Full spectrum products may be more effective.
Another target term to watch for? "I've also had many patients who seem to do better with the 'full spectrum' products—not just CBD, but multiple other cannabinoids, as well," he explains.
Medical research is limited but progressing rapidly.
Within the medical community, many doctors are hesitant to recommend CBD products to patients with arthritis because the research is still so limited, Dr. Bauer explains. "We have some preliminary data (i.e. from laboratory studies) that suggest that CBD (and other cannabinoids) may have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects that might make them potentially beneficial for people with most kinds of arthritis," he says. "The challenge is that we currently lack good clinical data—large, rigorous, placebo-controlled trials that actually measure the effect (good or bad) and the safety of these preparations."
Dr. Bauer says there are many challenges within these trials, from the many different topical and oral forms of CBD, products that vary in quality, and a number of reports of possible liver injury in some patients. "Fortunately, a lot of good clinical trials are underway at a number of institutions, and I expect we'll be able to make more informed decisions about this intriguing compound in the near future," he says.