The use and legalization of marijuana have long been discussed in the United States. Many talks today center around the recreational use of the drug, while legislation making its way to approval has typically centered around marijuana’s medical use. Many of us are familiar with marijuana’s recreational effects, and may even know that medically, marijuana has been shown to relieve pain, as well as improve eyesight and mood. But did you know that medical marijuana could have additional properties that may relieve some of your most frustrating PsA symptoms?
How does marijuana help PsA symptoms?
Marijuana’s impact on PsA centers around two specific cannabinoids in the drug: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Studies have investigated the pathways these two compounds act upon in the body, and have shown that they can be critical to controlling pain associated with inflammation-related conditions, as well as reducing chronic inflammation.
THC has been shown to help curtail the inflammation and negative effects of atherosclerosis (a cardiovascular condition), while CBD has been proven to show a stronger role in reducing joint inflammation and inhibiting the progression of conditions that have swelling and inflammation throughout the body. Both of these compounds participate in a bodily pathway that decreases the release and manufacturing of cytokines (cells that cause inflammation) and decrease the functionality of STAT1, which is a transcription factor that is crucial in the inflammation response.
Additionally, both compounds bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors (cannabinoid receptors) that are all over the skin and in the body, to regulate and reduce the pain that comes along with inflammation. CBD can take this process a step further and even reduce pain caused by sciatic nerve construction, or neuropathic pain. CBD also has additional anti-inflammation properties in its suppression of fatty acid amidohydrolase activity, as well as its promotion of the activity of STAT3, another transcription factor.1,2,3,4
Accessing medical marijuana
Even though cannabis is a hotly contested substance, currently, 28 states and Washington D.C. possess legislation that allows for the medical use of marijuana as of late 2016. This list is currently being updated, as well as specific details of legality being added regularly, and can be accessed here. What has contributed to so many states allowing the use of medical marijuana is the fact that not all medical marijuana products cause the typical psychoactive effects we associate with the drug. For example, CBD can be used topically, and therefore, avoids the bloodstream and brain altogether. Because of this, CBD is actually legal in many places, and may even be present in some of the products you already use or at stores you currently shop at.
Additionally, physicians and patients alike are being educated on the current research, legality, and benefits of prescription marijuana. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) recently listed recommendations about the prescription of cannabis for the first time. These recommendations included guidelines on when or how long to prescribe cannabis, as well as how to track cannabis’ effectiveness as a treatment option.5
What do you think about the possibility of using cannabis to treat your PsA? See what other community members are saying about it in our discussion topic, “Considering medical marijuana…”.
“Inflammation—Medical Marijuana Research Overview.” Medical Marijuana Inc. 2015 Sept 18. Available from: http://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/inflammation-2-medical-marijuana-research/
Kozela E et al. “Cannabinoids Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol differentially inhibit the lipopolysaccharide-activated NF-kappaB and interferon-beta/STAT proinflammatory pathways in BV-2 microglial cells.” J Biol Chem. 2010 Jan 15. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19910459
Fimiani C et al. “Opiate, Cannabinoid, and Eicosanoid Signaling Converges on Common Intracellular Pathways Nitric Oxide Coupling.” Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 1999 Jan. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10367294
Burstein SH and Zurier RB. “Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Related analogs in Inflammation.” AAPS. 2009 Mar 11. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664885/
Chaudhry HJ, Hengerer AS, Snyder GB. Medical Board Expectations for Physicians Recommending Marijuana. JAMA. 2016;316(6):577-578. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.7741. https://www.fsmb.org/Media/Default/PDF/BRD_RPT_16-2_Marijuana_Model_Guidelines.pdf