Osteoarthritis or chronic degenerative arthropathy is a degeneration of the cartilage of the joints without inflammation or infection. In the joint, the cartilage cracks and disappears, this is followed by bone growths that interfere with movement. It´s a very frequent alteration, 85% of people older than 70 years old are affected by this condition. It is characterised by the difficulty to perform movements and by daytime pain. Repetitive trauma (mechanical), obesity (metabolic) or menopause (hormonal) are the causes of osteoarthritis.
On the other hand, arthritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the body’s joints without chronic damage of the cartilage. By extension, when only one joint is affected, the correct terminology is monoarthritis, from two to four damaged joints we talk about oligoarthritis and when there are more, it´s known as polyarthritis. It is characterised by severe tendon pain, redness, heat sensation, swelling, body aches and stiffness. Its origin can be: infectious or rheumatic (rheumatoid: it´s an autoimmune disease that can have many extra-articular manifestations).
The rheumatoid polyarthritis is the first chronic polyarthritis, mainly in adults, with more than 60 million people affected worldwide. The mechanisms that lead to its emergence are genetic and environmental. A dysfunction of the immune system activates cells that normally defend the body against infections and create antibodies that attack the synovial membrane, a tissue that protects joints from destruction, this causes damage to the cartilage, muscle tendons and bones. Therefore, the junction zones between the bone ends present deformations.
Medical cannabis as a treatment for osteoarthritis
Humans have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which includes endogenous ligands and receptors. These receptors also work with cannabidiol or tetrahydrocannabinol (the chemicals found in the active cannabis plant). This interaction causes changes in the cells of many parts of the body. This activation is essential for the body to function with normality.
The scientific community recognizes that CBD can activate cannabinoid receptors in mammals without side effects or psychoactive effects.
Recent studies have shown an active involvement of the Endocannabinoid System in the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis. The results reinforce the interests on medical cannabinoids for this disorder, especially to regulate joint function and to be a magnificent analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Another publication showed preclinical evidence that CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system were a very good receptor for CBD, and that this attenuates peripheral immune cells and modulates central pain sensitivity, particularly at the knee.
Medical cannabis as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
A group of researchers discovered cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in synovial tissue and fluid in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These data could be an important medication target for the treatment of pain and inflammation.
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