We still have a lot more research to do, but the evidence so far suggests that medical cannabis can benefit some people with arthritis in a variety of ways.
The main active ingredients in medical cannabis are cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol – but most people just call them CBD and THC. Types of cannabis, also known as ‘strains’, that have higher CBD levels are thought to help relieve pain for some people, and possibly even reduce inflammation. Strains higher in THC tend mostly to help with things like anxiety, low mood or sleeplessness.
It’s worth noting that THC is the chemical that gives users a “high”, or euphoric feeling. It’s a psychoactive substance, which means it affects how you feel, perceive and judge things. If your product contains even a small amount of THC, you will need to avoid driving a car, operating heavy machinery or other potentially risky activities for several hours.
It’s important to recognize that different people respond differently to THC and CBD. Also, different strains contain these active ingredients in different proportions, so you may or may not experience a benefit – and even if you do, it may take some time to find the right combination to help you with your particular arthritis symptoms. You’ll want to discuss your symptoms and strain selection with the health professional who gives you your medical authorization. (Usually your doctor, but in some provinces this could be a nurse practitioner.)
For more information, check out our newly updated brochure, “Medical Cannabis: A Guide to Access”, available on our website at arthritis.ca/medicalcannabis.