Rheumatism is an umbrella term, often used interchangeably with the term “arthritis,” which denotes a number of physical ailments including: lupus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. All of these rheumatic diseases are characterized by like symptoms that exhibit as soreness, rigidity and inflammation in joints, muscles, and tissues. Rheumatism is one of the most widely-spread physical ailments in the United States—studies report that 53 million people in the nation suffer from the disease. While different sub-categories of rheumatism, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, may have slightly different symptoms and manifestations in the human body, treatments for the conditions are quite similar.
There are a variety of causes for rheumatism including excessive physical exertion, aging and immune disorders—there is no known cure for the condition. As seen with many illnesses that feature chronic pain, doctors generally treat rheumatism patients with opioids. However, besides the obvious addictive drawbacks of opioid medications, they also come with a venerable quiver of debilitating side-effects, including: liver failure, overdose danger, kidney destruction, heart irregularities, and stomach issues. For these reasons, forward-thinking doctors and industrious patients alike are looking to medical marijuana as a possible medication for the incapacitating effects of rheumatism.
As seen with many medical conditions relating to treatment with marijuana, research into the benefits of the herb’s uses concerning rheumatism is still in its infancy. However, there have been a few rather interesting studies to date. For starters, the Journal of Opioid Management reported in 2009 that a majority of medical cannabis patients were medicating for some form of chronic pain—a condition which plagues rheumatism sufferers. Also, Dr. Jason McDougall, a pharmacology professor in Halifax, Canada, postulates that cannabis can aid in the mending of damaged arthritic joints. McDougall states: “What we hypothesize is that by locally administering…cannabis-like molecules to those [damaged] nerves, we’d actually be able to repair them and reduce the pain of arthritis. A majority of McDougall’s hypotheses have to do with the use of CBD and the molecular interactions of the endocannabinoid system, in which foreign CBD can actually connect themselves to damaged nerve endings. In theory, these foreign CBD molecules can then aid the control points of the nervous systems in damaged joints.
Due to the nascence of medical marijuana research in the United States, rheumatism patients who have experimented independently (of sanctioned medical practices) with the herb can be valuable resources for information. For example, Katie Marsh, a rheumatic arthritis patient in Maine, reports profound results concerning the use of medical cannabis in treating her condition. To illustrate, March began “juicing” entire marijuana plants into smoothie-like drinks and ingested them on a regular basis. Amazingly, she reported a rapid improvement of her symptoms within days, and after a year the disease was in remission.