Medical Marijuana and Arthritis

More than one in ten Americans suffer with arthritis. The two most common forms of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid—they are similar in that they are both forms of an insufficient immune system which starts attacking itself causing inflammation. With Rheumatoid arthritis over activity of the B cells cause antibodies to attack tissues found in the joints. The joints swell, become increasingly painful, range of motion becomes limited and this will continue to deteriorate with time.

Osteoarthritis is the same malfunction of the immune system—thought to be brought on by a virus-but it manifests in the bones causing the bones to erode and cartilage to break down till the bone is on top of bone, with nothing to ‘cushion’ the daily activities. Many Americans have hip or knee replacements as a result of it.

Sometimes steroids are used to maintain present function and to lessen discomfort. But this comes at a high physical price. Steroids, used over a prolonged time, can cause kidney failure, heart attacks, and basically all the organs to become tissue paper thin. This can in turn add more medical maladies than not. Imagine a bowel that bursts because the wall of the intestine had become so thin that the waste broke through the wall. This is not uncommon with prolonged steroid use. There is a price to pay. Steroids can cause ulcers, depress your respiration, and cause drastic change in weight. And then it becomes a philosophical study such as ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ with the new question being ‘which came first, steroids or depression?’

Studies have shown that the use of marijuana can be an effective treatment for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Patients using marijuana claim an increase of mobility, less inflammation—which causes pain– and less stiffness that is usually affiliated with rising in the morning.

Research done at Hebrew University in Jerusalem showed that with the use of marijuana, patients were able to actually reduce their dosages of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—known more commonly as NSAIDs. These are potentially harmful and can cause numerous side-effects, further complicating the problems associated with arthritis.

These researchers found an acid component within marijuana that has the anti-inflammatory equivalency to the drug ‘indomethacin,’ but without the gastrointestinal side effects.

Tetra-hydracannibinol is also a primary component of marijuana. When the body ingests this the body metabolizes it into a metabolite that aids both in pain relief and in reduction of swelling. Animal testing found a synthetic form as being effective against both acute and chronic inflammation. In addition it safeguarded joint tissue by preventing its destruction.

Bottom line is, researchers have found marijuana to be effective in both pain management and as an anti-inflammatory. It has also demonstrated effective analgesic effects that are the equivalent of morphine. And probably most impressive is the fact that it does these things with minimal side effects, and no addiction problems that are associated with many of the current drugs.

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