An extract from cannabis, which does not make users “high,” greatly reduces rheumatoid arthritis pain and could prove to be far cheaper than current medications. A new study shows that “cannabidiol, through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions, has a potent anti-arthritis effect.”
Cannabidiol is the only nonpsychoactive component in marijuana. It effectively blocked the progression of arthritis, according to the study led by Professor Marc Feldmann of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology. In addition, the extract appears to protect the joints against severe damage and act6ually inhibits the release of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha). When TNF is blocked, joint inflammation and destruction is usually delayed.
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The research also demonstrated that cannabidiol can be effective when taken orally. Other current drug treatments have to be injected twice weekly. The treatment is also cost-effective. The typical cost for a year’s treatment of approved anti-rheumatic drugs is $10,000; researchers hope that the new findings will help to pave the way towards more convenient and affordable treatments.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease potentially affecting the entire body and involving many different joints. It affects one to two percent of the population and appears to hit women the hardest, with an estimated 22.8 million female sufferers in the United States alone. Although it normally shows up between ages 20 and 40, rheumatoid arthritis can strike anytime.
Professor Marc Feldmann is a pioneer in the field of arthritis research and along with a colleague, was recently awarded a $500,000 prize from the Swedish Academy of Scientists for his work over the past decade.
The results of the study were published in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The next stage of research would be to conduct clinical trials on humans but it may be several years before anything is available to the public.