Can You Use CBD for Arthritis? What the Science Says

Published January 31, 2024
Can You Use CBD for Arthritis? What the Science Says - Secret Nature

Arthritis is an alarmingly common condition largely brought about by genetics and poor nutrition. Many forms of arthritis are fueled by an incorrect immunological response in which the body identifies joint tissue as a dangerous foreign substance. Others are caused by undue breakdown of the body usually traceable to dietary insufficiencies or food toxification.

In recent years, the scientific community has begun taking CBD more seriously as a potential treatment for arthritis. In this review of the available evidence, we’ll examine some of the most compelling scientific research that has been conducted on the subject of using CBD for arthritic conditions.

CBD for Arthritis: Overview

1. Some forms of arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis [RA]) are caused by incorrect immunological signaling
2. Others (such as osteoarthritis) are caused by premature breakdown of joint tissue, which can have a genetic, dietary, or immunological origin
3. Believed to have considerable anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may be useful as a direct treatment for inflammatory forms of arthritis
4. CBD is also commonly used to reduce the pain of arthritic conditions, sometimes reducing dependency on opioids
5. CBD is believed to have general antioxidant effects, which may allow it to impact all forms of arthritis
6. Arthritis study facilitators often fail to correctly account for the properties of CBD when designing inquiries, leading to less-than-useful data
7. Nonetheless, quite a bit of reliable scientific information has accumulated on the subject of using CBD for arthritis

Most Recent Research on CBD and Arthritis

2022: Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study

This study centered around a questionnaire in which over 400 participants responded regarding their positions on the usefulness of CBD for arthritis. Eighty-three percent of respondents indicated that CBD offered some amount of improvement in pain while 66% reported that CBD was useful for sleep and overall physical functioning.

CBD was reported to offer a 44% reduction in pain levels with 60.5% of participants indicating that they reduced intake of other medications or stopped using them altogether. In the end, the authors concluded that their study “found associations between CBD use and improvements in patient’s arthritis symptoms and reductions in other medications.”

2022: Cannabidiol: Influence on B Cells, Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell/Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblast Cocultures

B cells play a major role in the development and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, so they’re often studied in conjunction with arthritis treatment. According to this study, “B cells express two major target receptors for CBD” — namely TRPV1 and TRPV2, the two foremost “vanilloid” inflammation receptors in the body. Based on the evidence they accumulated, the facilitators of this laboratory study found that “CBD is able to provide… anti-inflammatory effects in isolated B cells.”

CBD for Arthritis Human Trials

2022: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Topical Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis

This recent clinical study only involved 18 participants, but the design of the study was excellent and yielded important results. Participants were monitored for 2 weeks as 6.2 mL of CBD was applied to the thumb joint in a shea butter formulation twice per day. A control group only received shea butter without CBD, and after a one-week “washout” period, the two groups switched.

The results? “Cannabidiol treatment resulted in improvements from baseline among patient-reported outcome measures,” including pain, disabilities, range of motion and other metrics. Based on these data, the researchers concluded that “CBD treatment demonstrated significant improvements in thumb basal joint arthritis-related pain.”

2022: Cannabidiol treatment in hand osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Compared to the study we just discussed, this other recent piece of clinical research on CBD and arthritis was very poorly designed with the facilitators demonstrating a clear lack of understanding of the biochemistry or proper application methods for CBD. The study included 136 patients who were orally given “synthetic CBD 20 to 30 mg or placebo daily for 12 weeks.”

To start, CBD should always be applied topically when assessing its usefulness against localized conditions like arthritis. Also, synthetic CBD will — at best — behave no better than CBD isolate and — at worst — offer even less efficacy.

Disregarding all available information on the bioavailability of CBD, the entourage effect, or even common-sense administration method knowledge, it’s no wonder that the researchers “found neither clinically nor statistically significant effects of CBD for pain intensity.” Overall, this study is an excellent example of shoddy work that does nothing but further bias and ignorance.

Additional CBD Arthritis Studies

2005: Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis

Before we close, it’s worth discussing an older study that first put CBD on the map as a potential arthritis treatment. In 2005, the first clinical studies on Sativex were conducted, a pharmaceutical drug consisting of 50% CBD and 50% THC. The researchers found that Sativex “produced statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep,” and other metrics, results that had not been achieved with THC alone.

Discussion: Should CBD Be Used for Arthritis?

Based on the available evidence, it appears that CBD should be seriously considered as a potential mainline or adjunctive treatment of arthritis. So far, the usefulness of this cannabinoid has mainly been evidenced in the context of rheumatoid arthritis, but it appears that CBD, and perhaps even additional cannabinoids, may also be useful for the entire spectrum of arthritic conditions.

The only naysaying evidence against using CBD for arthritis comes from studies so poorly constructed they seem almost purposely biased against cannabinoids. We call upon the scientific community to thoroughly and rigorously study the potential benefits and detractors of using CBD for arthritis so that the millions of patients currently suffering from this condition can make informed decisions on a potentially paradigm-shifting breakthrough treatment.

It is also worth noting briefly that CBD is hardly alone in the list of cannabis compounds that may hold utility against arthritic conditions. THC, CBG, and even the terpene myrcene all may also be useful against arthritis, further evidencing that the scientific community must open its collective mind and consider new therapeutic approaches to this all-too-common condition.


1. Frane, N., Stapleton, E., Iturriaga, C., Ganz, M., Rasquinha, V. J., & Duarte, R. (2022). Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. Journal of Cannabis Research, 4(1).

2. Lowin, T., Laaser, S. A., Kok, C., Bruneau, E., & Pongratz, G. (2022). Cannabidiol: influence on B cells, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and peripheral blood mononuclear Cell/Rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblast cocultures. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

3. Heineman, J. T., Forster, G. L., Stephens, K. L., Cottler, P. S., Timko, M. P., & DeGeorge, B. R. (2022). A randomized controlled trial of topical cannabidiol for the treatment of thumb basal joint arthritis. The Journal of Hand Surgery, 47(7), 611–620.

4. Vela, J., Dreyer, L., Petersen, K. K., Arendt-Nielsen, L., Duch, K., & Kristensen, S. (2021). Cannabidiol treatment in hand osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pain, 163(6), 1206–1214.

5. Blake, D. R., Robson, P., Ho, M. S. L., Jubb, R. W., & McCabe, C. (2005). Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology, 45(1), 50–52.

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