Doctor and patient coming together around green speech bubbles representing conversations about medical marijuana

How CBD and Medical Marijuana Can Help Relieve PsA Symptoms

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2024 | Last updated: February 2024

Many people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are interested in alternative treatments because traditional medical treatments may not have worked for them. Or traditional treatments may have caused unwanted side effects. These folks may be looking for new ways to treat their joint pain and other PsA symptoms.

Understanding CBD and marijuana

Some people seeking alternative treatment options may want to try CBD or marijuana to relieve their PsA symptoms. First, it is important to understand the difference between the two.


CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of the more than 80 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not produce a "high." Instead, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body, which plays a crucial role in regulating various processes.1,2


Marijuana, on the other hand, is a plant that contains both CBD and THC, among other cannabinoids. The “high” (psychoactive effects) people get from marijuana primarily stems from the THC. But the plant's medicinal properties are gaining attention, especially in managing chronic pain and other health conditions like PsA.1-3

Are CBD and marijuana legal?

CBD is legal in most states. This is because CBD products contain very small levels of THC. Still, check with your state and local laws to find out whether CBD is legal to use where you live.1,4

Many states in the US have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana use. However, it remains illegal in some states and on a federal level. Check to see if medical use of marijuana is legal in your state.5

How can CBD and marijuana help with PsA symptoms?

Both CBD and marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties. THC has been shown to potentially reduce inflammation. CBD has been proven to play a stronger role in reducing joint inflammation and stopping the progression of conditions that involve swelling and inflammation throughout the body.1

Because CBD and certain strains of marijuana have calming effects, they may also help with sleep problems. They may be able to help with anxiety and depression, too.1-3

How is CBD used?

CBD comes in several forms. There are no guidelines for dosing oral CBD. It is always better to start with a lower dose and work your way up if you do not know how CBD will affect you. Always check with your doctor before using CBD.1,2,4

  • Topical form – CBD-infused topicals, such as creams and balms, can be directly applied to affected joints. These products may help reduce inflammation and provide relief to targeted areas.
  • Oils or tinctures – These are often used under the tongue or can be added to water, tea, or other beverages.
  • Edible form – These usually take the form of capsules, candy, sodas, or chocolates.

According to data, concentrations of CBD in products vary widely. What you read on the product label may or may not be accurate. In addition, to date, there are no drug products containing CBD that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Always consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD.1,4

Are CBD and marijuana safe?

There is still a lot we do not know about how CBD and marijuana affect PsA symptoms. Research is ongoing.1-3

Some experts are studying CBD to find out how it works in treating arthritis and whether it is safe and effective. Smaller doses usually have fewer side effects. If you notice any unwanted side effects or reactions, stop using CBD immediately.1-3

When it comes to marijuana, many experts are exploring its therapeutic use for other health conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. On the other hand, research has shown that marijuana may be linked with the progression of a heart condition called atherosclerosis.6,7

CBD and marijuana can interact with some medicines. Talk to your doctor about interactions if you take steroids, biologic drugs, or mental health medicines. CBD and marijuana should not be taken in the place of your other medicines without talking to your doctor.1-4

Before beginning any new treatment for PsA, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

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The takeaway

Research on CBD and marijuana use for PsA is still in its early stages. And the landscape of cannabis-based therapies continues to evolve.1-4

While it seems to be helpful for many people, these are substances that have the potential to cause harmful interactions. Work with your healthcare team to make sure CBD or medical marijuana makes sense with your PsA treatment plan.1

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