5 Best CBD Oils for Arthritis
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Thinking about trying CBD oil for arthritis? Here's a buyer's guide of CBD oils that meet our experts' criteria for quality and safety.
CBD oil for arthritis
Although there are already a good number of remedies for the many different types of arthritis, many patients are adding something new to their arsenal: cannabidiol or CBD. Twenty-nine percent of people who responded to an Arthritis Foundation poll said that they currently use CBD to manage pain, stiffness, swelling, and other arthritis symptoms. (Also, learn the difference between rheumatoid arthritis vs osteoarthritis.)
The scientific evidence for CBD and arthritis is still gathering. But testimonials from patients as well as historical documentation indicate that CBD can help with arthritis symptoms, says Martin A. Lee, cofounder and director of Project CBD, a California nonprofit that promotes CBD research and author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana–Medical, Recreational, and Scientific.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of two main active ingredients in the cannabis plant. While CBD does not make you high, the other main ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, does. The CBD products that have exploded onto the market do indeed contain CBD, but little or no THC.
CBD can also be extracted from the hemp plant, a member of the cannabis family. But any CBD products from hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, according to the Farm Bill of 2018. (Learn more about the differences between CBD vs THC.)
CBD and arthritis
While CBD has been around for thousands of years, modern science is only now beginning to understand how the compound can help with various health conditions. “Everything we know to date about CBD and pain relief for any indication comes from anecdotal reports and from animal studies,” says Sara Jane Ward, assistant professor of pharmacology at Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia. (These are the best CBD oils for pain.)
Two studies, in particular, have garnered attention. A study published in 2015 in the European Journal of Pain suggests that CBD gel relieved pain in arthritic rats. And a study in a 2018 issue of Frontiers in Veterinary Science suggests that two milligrams per kilogram of CBD twice a day relieved pain in dogs with osteoarthritis, making them more able to frolic.
The few human studies that have been done are inconclusive. For instance, a review of studies published in 2015 in Arthritis Care & Research didn’t find enough evidence to support recommending CBD for arthritis. And a study in a 2018 issue of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage found that CBD wasn’t much different from a placebo in treating knee pain. (Here’s what behind-the-knee pain may mean.)
However, other research, including a study published in 2018 in Molecules, shows that CBD can affect pain and inflammation, in general. Other studies suggest that CBD can help with sleeplessness and anxiety, which afflict some people with arthritis. “We really need large-scale, well-run trials on humans before we can be definitive on any of this,” says Ward. (Here are the best CBD oils for anxiety.)
Is CBD safe?
There’s substantially more evidence suggesting that CBD is generally safe. “It doesn’t seem to be harming people,” says Lee. There are a couple of cautions, however.
One red flag for people with arthritis: It can interact with several commonly used medications, including naproxen (Aleve), Celebrex, corticosteroids, such as prednisone, and certain antidepressants. Visit the National Library of Medicine for a complete list of potential drug interactions. Remember, always consult with your doctor before trying CBD. CBD can also cause drowsiness, lightheadedness, and, in rare cases, liver damage.
Is CBD legal?
CBD is legal in most (36) states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. But the federal government has not legalized it. Marijuana and all of its components (including CBD) are on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I list of controlled substances. CBD from hemp, on the other hand, is not illegal as long as it contains 0.3 percent or less THC, as required by the Farm Bill.
But just because many states have legalized CBD, that does not mean that the products you see out there are actually good ones or even regulated. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD-derived drug, Epidiolex, to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy. But it does not oversee other CBD products. (Here are the best CBD products for sleep.)
CBD oils for arthritis
Many people take CBD oil sublingually, meaning under the tongue. This tends to work better than swallowing. You can also apply CBD oil in the form of a cream or vape it in the form of cartridges.
There’s no evidence that CBD oil is a better form over others for arthritis, says Ward. But it does have advantages over other forms. First up: You can use it without vaping, which has been associated with lung injury. (Learn more about the risks and benefits of CBD vape oil.) And your body better absorbs oil in a pill or capsule, adds Ward.
Then there are the disadvantages. “It doesn’t always taste good and can be associated with GI [gastrointestinal] effects like nausea and diarrhea,” says Ward. It can also be difficult to zero in on the right dose and takes longer to take effect than vaping, she adds.
(Here’s what you need to know about CBD edibles.)
Types of CBD oil
CBD products, including oil, come in three basic types:
Full-spectrum CBD: This contains all of the components of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa), including CBD and also small traces of THC and terpenes, which are plant compounds.
Broad-spectrum CBD: This includes all of the components except THC.
CBD isolates: The purest form of CBD, these contain only CBD.
You may want to try full-spectrum or broad-spectrum products at lower doses because the CBD works synergistically with other compounds to produce a greater effect. The Arthritis Foundation suggests starting with a low dose (a few milligrams) twice a day then increasing gradually if you feel you need more relief.
Buying CBD oil
Selecting and buying CBD products needs to be done carefully. “It’s tough because all products are going to be different,” says Ward. “Some oils will have more or less CBD than others. And many other things can be in the oil.”
The Arthritis Foundation points out that the biggest issues are the strength of the CBD and the presence of THC and pesticides, metals, or solvents. The organization suggests:
- Picking products manufactured in the U.S. with ingredients grown in the U.S.
- Purchasing from companies that follow FDA good manufacturing practices
- Buying only from companies that have their products independently tested by a third-party lab and which provide certificates of analysis for different batches.
- Stay away from companies and products which claim to have specific disease benefits
Best CBD oils for arthritis
Keep in mind that there’s still much experts don’t know about CBD for arthritis and that you should talk to your doctor before trying any products. That said, here are some quality CBD oils you can try for arthritis:
NuLeaf Naturals Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil
$39 to $439
This is a full-spectrum product from hemp plants grown in Colorado from NuLeaf Naturals. Subscribers get a 10 percent discount. This particular item is available in 300 mg, 900 mg, 1,800 mg, 3,000, and 6,000 mg bottles and contains other cannabinoids. Its lab test results are available on the website.
CBDistillery Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture 1,000 mg
Another full-spectrum product, this CBDistillery oil tincture also contains plant proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, raising the possibility of a positive drug test. But there is also a THC-free variety ($55). All CBDistillery products are made from hemp grown in the U.S. They have a variety of other oil products, as well.
Royal CBD Full Spectrum CBD Oil 1,000 mg
At 33 milligrams of CBD in every milliliter of oil, you don’t have to use up half the bottle to reach those higher dosages. Royal CBD also says it uses whole hemp extract. This means there are now higher amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes for an “entourage” or synergistic effect.
CBDPure Hemp Oil 300
Each bottle of CBDPure hemp oil contains at least 300 mg of CBD in a full-spectrum hemp oil base. This is the lowest dose offered by CBDPure, which calls the product “a great all-around value when choosing an entry-level CBD oil.” It contains less than 0.3 percent THC and each serving contains 10 mg of CBD. The oil also comes in 600 mg and 1,000 mg bottles
Medterra CBD Oil
These sublingual tinctures from Medterra CBD oil are available in 500 mg, 1,000 mg, and 3,000 mg strength. It also claims to sell fully compliant CBD. The hemp is grown in the U.S. and results of third-party lab tests are available online.
Next, here’s what you need to know about CBD for weight loss.
- Arthritis Foundation: "Patients Tell Us About CBD Use"
- Arthritis Foundation: "Osteoarthritis"
- Martin A. Lee, co-founder and director, Project CBD and author, Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana–Medical, Recreational, and Scientific
- Sara Jane Ward, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Philadelphia
- European Journal of Pain: "Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis"
- Frontiers in Veterinary Science: "Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs"
- Arthritis Care Research: "Efficacy, Tolerability, and Safety of Cannabinoid Treatments in the Rheumatic Diseases: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Osteoarthritis and Cartilage: "Synthetic Transdermal Cannabidiol for the treatment of knee pain due to osteoarthritis"
- Molecules: "Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment"
- Arthritis Foundation: "CBD for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Know"
- National Library of Medicine: "Cannabidiol (CBD)"
- National Conference of State Legislatures: "State Medical Marijuana Laws"
- Drug Enforcement Administration: "Drug Scheduling"
- Food and Drug Administration: "FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)"
- Arthritis Foundation: "CBD for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Kno."
- Arthritis Foundation: "CBD for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Know"
- NuLeaf Naturals: "Lab Test Results"