Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic autoimmune inflammatory disease characterized by joint synovitis (inflammation) with pain, swelling and stiffness. It generally appears between ages 25-40. More than 60% are women. The joints involved are usually bilateral wrists, hands, elbows, knees and ankles. Because this is a progressive, destructive disease the goal of therapy is more than simple pain relief, but disease remission is important. The goal of treatment aims toward achieving the lowest possible level of arthritis disease activity, the minimization of joint damage, and enhancing physical function and quality of life. As in all autoimmune disorders, decreasing the person’s hyperactive immune response is integral to therapy.

 

Standard medical treatments:

NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs)

Steroid therapy

DMARDS – disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs

Physical therapy

Ambulation aids

Water exercise

 

Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional – eliminate food allergens

Raw vegetable juice fasting

Vitamin C – anti-inflammatory and immune support

DHEA – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function

Fish oil / Flax oil – anti-inflammatory

Herbal –

White willow bark – anti-inflammatory salicylate

Cat’s claw – anti-inflammatory, decreases swelling

Devil’s claw – anti-inflammatory, reduces pain

Boswelia – anti-inflammatory, promotes cartilage growth

Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs

Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, chinese herbal liniment

Massage

Acupuncture

Chiropractic

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cannabis

Many RA patients find cannabis useful in treating the pain and stiffness caused by their disease. What is less commonly understood is that cannabis is a promising therapy to halt the progression of the disease due to its anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects. Americans for Safe Access stated in their 2005 brochure titled Arthritis and Medical Marijuana:”Cannabis has a demonstrated ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation. Research has also shown that patients are able to reduce their usage of potentially harmful Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when using cannabis as an adjunct therapy.”

As early as 2003, cannabis use was found to modulate the immune system. In the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology, researchers in Japan concluded, “Cannabinoid therapy of RA could provide symptomatic relief to joint pain and swelling as well as suppressing joint destruction and disease progression.” The use of cannabis to treat symptoms of RA is commonly self-reported by patients with the disease. In a 2005 questionnaire survey of medicinal cannabis patients in Australia, 25 percent reported using cannabinoids to treat RA. A survey of British medicinal cannabis patients found that more than 20 percent of respondents reported using cannabis for symptoms of arthritis. The first study to use a cannabis-based medicine for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis done in Great Britain in 2005 has found that it has a significant effect on easing pain, improving the quality of sleep  and on suppressing the disease.