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Is CBD Oil Good for Arthritis?

Although definitive conclusions are yet to be drawn, preliminary research on the use of CBD oil for arthritis is showing promising signs. Some studies indicate potential benefits such as alleviation of pain and reduction in inflammation. However, it's important to note that individual responses to CBD oil can differ, and more comprehensive research is required to confirm these initial findings.

Understanding CBD Oil and Its Origins

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. It is one of over a hundred cannabinoids present in the plant, but unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it does not have psychoactive properties. This means that CBD does not produce the 'high' associated with cannabis use.

Instead, it has been recognised for its potential therapeutic benefits, including its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) properties, which have made it a subject of interest in treating conditions like arthritis.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is a product derived from the cannabis plant, specifically from hemp, a variety of low-THC cannabis. The oil is created by extracting the CBD compound from the plant and then diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut or hemp seed oil. The resulting product is rich in CBD, with minimal THC content. Adaptations to the extraction process or additional filtering are required to remove any THC or other controlled cannabinoids.

The Extraction Process of CBD Oil

The process of extracting CBD from the cannabis plant is a critical step in the production of CBD oil. Several methods can be used, but the most common ones are CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction.

CO2 extraction involves placing the hemp in a chamber filled with carbon dioxide. By applying pressure, the carbon dioxide turns into a liquid that absorbs the hemp's oils and flavours. The resulting liquid, consisting of both carbon dioxide and CBD, is then pumped into another chamber, where the carbon dioxide evaporates, leaving behind the CBD extract.

Ethanol extraction, on the other hand, involves soaking the plant material in ethanol, which strips the cannabinoids from the plant. The ethanol is then evaporated, yielding a CBD concentrate containing vital hemp compounds.

Both methods are considered safe and efficient, and they are commonly used in the food industry as well as for extracting CBD. However, it's important to note that the quality of the final product can vary depending on the extraction method, the quality of the hemp source and any other additional processes used.

The Science Behind CBD Oil and Arthritis

The use of Cannabidiol (CBD) for arthritis has been a topic of interest for researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients alike. This section delves into the science behind CBD oil and its potential benefits for arthritis sufferers. We will explore how CBD oil interacts with the body, its potential anti-inflammatory properties, and what animal studies reveal about its effects on arthritis.

How Does CBD Oil Interact with the Body?

The CBD in CBD oil interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, a complex cell-signalling system that plays a key role in regulating various functions and processes, including sleep, mood, appetite, and immune response.

The endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids, enzymes and two primary receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, while CB2 receptors are mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, particularly in immune cells.

CBD also interacts with these receptors, but not directly. Unlike THC, CBD does not bind directly to these receptors. Instead, it interacts indirectly via enzymes, non-cannabinoid signalling molecules, and other receptors, such as TRPV1 receptors (vanilloid receptor 1 or capsaicin receptors).

When CBD enters the body, it uses these methods to influence how CB1 and CB2 receptors respond to signals. These interactions are believed to be one of the ways CBD can help alleviate arthritis symptoms. However, the exact mechanisms are still being studied, and the effectiveness of CBD in treating arthritis symptoms varies from person to person.

CBD Oil's Potential Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Some studies indicate that CBD oil has an anti-inflammatory effect through several different actions. The first is by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), where it indirectly stimulates CB2 receptors in immune cells, reducing inflammation.

Additionally, CBD may inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines, diminish oxidative stress, and offer neuroprotective effects, providing relief from joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness.

Animal Studies on CBD Oil and Arthritis

Several animal studies have explored the potential benefits of CBD oil for arthritis. For instance, a 2016 study by Hammell et al. found that topical CBD application had therapeutic potential for the relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation in rats without evident side effects.

Another study conducted by Philpott et al. in 2017 showed that CBD treatment significantly reduced joint inflammation and served as a protectant for the nerves in osteoarthritic rats.


Clinical Research on CBD Oil and Arthritis

While the findings from animal studies are promising, it's important to note that results from animal studies do not always directly translate to humans. Therefore, further research, particularly human clinical trials, is necessary to confirm the potential benefits of CBD oil for arthritis.

Current Findings from Human Trials

Human trials investigating the effects of CBD oil on arthritis are limited but gradually increasing. A 2022 study showed links between CBD use and improvements in participants' arthritis symptoms, with some even reducing their medication use, suggesting that CBD helped manage their condition.

Another small research review conducted in 2016 indicated that CBD oil might improve pain, sleep quality, and quality of life for some people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the researchers noted several limitations of the studies, including small sample sizes and short study durations.

More recently, another review suggested that a combination of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) provides mild to moderate pain relief for older adults with various conditions, such as cancer-related pain, fibromyalgia, nonspecific chronic pain, and nerve pain. As arthritis sufferers often experience chronic and nerve pain, these findings could be relevant.

Limitations and Gaps in Existing Research

Despite the promising findings, there are limitations and gaps in the existing research on CBD oil and arthritis. Most notably, despite several small-scale reviews of human studies, most available research involves animals or human cells, and there is still a lack of well-designed clinical trials involving human participants.

While several animal studies suggest that CBD significantly reduces the symptoms of joint swelling, chronic joint pain, and other inflammatory processes, it's uncertain whether these results can be replicated to treat arthritis in humans.

Anecdotal Evidence and Personal Experiences

While scientific research continues to explore the potential benefits of CBD oil for arthritis, it's also important to consider the anecdotal evidence and reports based on personal experience:

Reported Benefits of CBD Oil for Arthritis

Many individuals suffering from arthritis have turned to CBD oil as an alternative treatment, with a majority reporting significant benefits. These users have experienced noticeable pain relief, suggesting that CBD oil may help alleviate the inflammation and discomfort often associated with arthritis.

Moreover, the impact of CBD oil seems to extend beyond just pain management. Numerous users have reported improved sleep quality, with one individual sharing their experience, "Since I started using CBD oil, my sleep has improved dramatically. I used to toss and turn all night due to the arthritis pain, but now I can finally get a restful night's sleep."

This aspect is particularly crucial, considering that arthritis-related discomfort often leads to poor sleep or prolonged insomnia. Additionally, individuals have noted a significant reduction in their anxiety levels, leading to a newfound sense of calm and relaxation. As another user put it, "CBD oil has not only eased my joint pain but also helped me feel calmer and less anxious on a daily basis. It's been a game-changer for my overall well-being."

These real-life accounts provide compelling anecdotal evidence of the potential benefits of CBD oil for arthritis, aligning with a survey conducted in 2022, which found that 83% of respondents reported improvements in pain and 66% noted enhancements in physical function and sleep quality after using CBD.

Furthermore, some accounts suggest that topical application of CBD may offer therapeutic relief for those dealing with inflammation and pain, common symptoms of arthritis. Users have reported potential localised benefits, as CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system through cannabinoid receptors in the skin.

This interaction potentially modulates inflammatory signals and reduces pain perception in the affected joints. By targeting the specific area of discomfort, topical CBD provides concentrated, localised relief. This method of application is also well suited to accompanying other treatment programs, including physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Varied Responses to CBD Oil Treatment

Despite mounting promising evidence, it's essential to note that responses to CBD oil can vary widely. While some individuals report significant improvements, others may experience minimal relief or even adverse side effects.

This variability can be influenced by numerous factors, including the individual's overall health, the severity of their arthritis, the dosage and quality of the CBD oil used, and their body's unique response to cannabinoids.


Using CBD Oil for Arthritis: A Guide

As the interest in CBD oil for arthritis grows, it's crucial to understand how to use it effectively:

We recommend only supplementing with CBD when you feel that your endocannabinoid system needs support to respond to your arthritis symptoms.  This is something you will learn to feel. If you wake up and don’t experience any arthritis symptoms, don’t supplement, save it for when you need it. 

The Food Standards Agency in the UK recommends not consuming more than seventy milligrams of cannabidiol per day and that it should only be used by persons over the age of eighteen.   

Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different; some people require a large serving once per day, while others find that smaller servings three times per day (morning, day and night) works better for them. Some people even have a chronically deficient endocannabinoid system and they don’t start to feel the benefits until after two weeks of continuous use.

It’s always best to start with a small serving and work your way up from there until you find the sweet spot for your body to achieve biological homeostasis. At this optimal level, your body is ready to effectively respond to and reduce arthritis symptoms. 

Topical vs. Oral Use of CBD Oil

The choice between topical and oral use of CBD oil for arthritis largely depends on the nature of the symptoms. Topical CBD is often preferred for localised pain and inflammation, such as in a specific joint or area of the body.

It works by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the skin, reducing inflammation and providing pain relief at the site of application. A 2020 study found that topical CBD oil significantly improved pain and quality of life in patients with peripheral neuropathy, a condition often associated with arthritis.

On the other hand, oral CBD oil is typically used for systemic symptoms or when multiple joints are affected. When ingested, CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream and interacts with the endocannabinoid system throughout the body, potentially providing widespread relief. A 2017 study by Philpott et al. found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced joint inflammation and served as a protectant to the nerves in osteoarthritic rats.


Safety Considerations for CBD Oil Use

As the use of CBD oil for arthritis continues to gain traction, it is crucial to consider the safety aspects associated with its use. While CBD oil has shown promise in alleviating arthritis symptoms, it is not without potential risks and side effects:

Possible Side Effects of CBD Oil

While CBD oil is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience side effects. These can range from mild to severe and may include drowsiness, dry mouth, reduced appetite, and diarrhoea. A 2017 study by Iffland and Grotenhermenalso reported instances of changes in mood, such as increased anxiety or depression. These side effects are typically dose-dependent, meaning they are more likely to occur with higher doses of CBD oil.

In rare cases, CBD oil may also cause liver damage. A study from 2019 found that high doses of CBD could lead to liver toxicity in mice. However, further research is needed to determine if these findings apply to humans.

Interactions with Other Medications

CBD oil can interact with certain medications, potentially altering their effects. This is because CBD is metabolised by enzymes in the liver that also process many common drugs. As a result, CBD can either enhance or inhibit the action of these drugs, leading to increased side effects or reduced effectiveness.

For instance, CBD can increase the levels of blood thinners like warfarin in the body, potentially leading to bleeding complications. Similarly, it can enhance the sedative effects of medications like benzodiazepines, increasing the risk of drowsiness and impaired motor function. Therefore, the FSA recommends that you should not take CBD if you're on any other medication unless under the care of a medical professional.

Precautions for First-Time Users

If you're considering using CBD oil for arthritis, there are several precautions to keep in mind. Firstly, (as previously mentioned) start with a low dose and gradually increase it over time.

Secondly, choose a reputable brand that provides third-party lab reports. These reports can verify the product's CBD content and ensure it's free from harmful contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides.

Lastly, remember that while CBD oil may help manage arthritis symptoms, it's not a cure. Continue to follow your existing treatment plan and consult with your healthcare provider regularly to monitor your progress.

The legal status of CBD oil in the UK has been a topic of interest and discussion, particularly due to its potential benefits for conditions such as arthritis. The legality of CBD oil is governed by specific regulations and laws that dictate its production, sale, and use.

UK Laws and Regulations on CBD Products

In the UK, CBD oil is legal as long as it doesn't contain any THC or other controlled cannabinoids. This ensures that CBD products do not have psychoactive effects and are safe for consumption. Furthermore, CBD products must be derived from low-THC hemp strains.

In addition to these regulations, CBD oil manufacturers must comply with specific rules. As of 2020, CBD oils as food supplements, food and drink must comply with novel food regulations. This means that CBD products must undergo a safety assessment and authorisation before they can be legally marketed in the UK.

Implications for CBD Oil Users

For users of CBD oil, these regulations have several implications. Firstly, they ensure that CBD products available in the market are safe for consumption and do not have psychoactive effects. This is particularly important for individuals using CBD oil for medical conditions such as arthritis, as it ensures that they can safely use the product without experiencing unwanted side effects.

Secondly, these regulations provide guidelines for travelling with CBD oil. If you buy CBD in another country and want to bring it back to the UK, you'll first need to check that you're allowed to travel with your CBD and if your airline permits it. However, when it comes to entering the UK, you shouldn't have any problems, provided you can demonstrate that it is free from all controlled cannabinoids.

Lastly, these regulations also impact the dosage of CBD oil. As a precaution, healthy adults are recommended not to take more than 70mg a day, unless a doctor agrees more. This is about 28 drops of 5% CBD. This doesn't mean that these levels are definitely safe, but that the evidence we have suggests adverse health effects could potentially be seen above this.

Future Directions for CBD Oil and Arthritis Research

As the use of CBD oil for arthritis continues to gain traction, it is crucial to consider the future directions of research in this field. While existing studies have shown promising results, there is still much to be learned about the potential benefits and risks of CBD oil for arthritis:

Ongoing Studies on CBD Oil and Arthritis

Several ongoing studies are currently investigating the potential benefits of CBD oil for arthritis. For instance, a study by researchers at the University of Nottingham is exploring the effects of CBD on pain and inflammation in human osteoarthritis. The study aims to determine whether CBD can reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with osteoarthritis.

Moreover, a clinical trial by researchers at the University of Colorado is investigating the safety and efficacy of CBD oil for the treatment of chronic pain, including arthritis pain. The trial aims to provide more robust evidence on the potential benefits and risks of CBD oil for chronic pain patients with arthritis.

The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center is also conducting a series of clinical trials that are exploring the potential benefits of medical marijuana in treating various symptoms associated with cancer treatment, which often include arthritic pain.

While not focusing specifically on CBD oil, this research will likely be a significant contributor to the ongoing exploration of CBD oil's potential benefits for arthritis.

Potential Developments in CBD Oil Treatment for Arthritis

Looking ahead, there are several potential developments in CBD oil treatment for arthritis. One such development is the formulation of CBD products specifically designed for arthritis. These products may include topical creams or gels that can be applied directly to the affected joints, potentially providing more targeted relief from pain and inflammation.

Another potential development is the use of CBD in combination with other natural compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric or omega-3 fatty acids. This approach could potentially enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, providing greater relief from arthritis symptoms.

Furthermore, advancements in technology may enable more precise dosing of CBD oil, ensuring that individuals receive the optimal dose for their specific needs. This could potentially improve the effectiveness of CBD oil for arthritis and reduce the risk of side effects.


In conclusion, CBD oil, shows potential therapeutic benefits for arthritis by interacting with receptors in the body to reduce inflammation and pain. Although animal studies have shown promise, human trials remain limited, leaving gaps in our understanding of its effectiveness.

Some individuals report experiencing pain relief, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety with CBD oil use, but responses can vary. Safety considerations, including potential side effects and drug interactions, necessitate consulting a healthcare provider before starting CBD oil treatment.

The legal status of CBD oil varies globally. Ongoing research aims to further explore CBD oil's role in arthritis treatment, potentially offering new avenues of relief in the future.