Last updated on: 2/2/2009 4:00:00 PM PST
Is Marijuana an Effective Treatment for the Symptoms of Arthritis?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine's online Medical Encyclopedia, stated as of May 15, 2006:
"Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints, which results in pain, swelling, and limited movement.
Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage from the joints. Although osteoarthritis can affect almost any joint, it most often affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, some loss of joint motion, and changes in the shape of affected joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease, mainly characterized by inflammation of the lining, or synovium, of the joints. It can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability."
May 15, 2006 - MedlinePlus
Rheumatology reported in a Jan. 2006 article titled "Preliminary Assessment of The Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety of A Cannabis-based Medicine (Sativex) in The Treatment of Pain Caused By Rheumatoid Arthritis," by D.R. Blake et al.:
"In comparison with placebo, the CBM [cannabis-based medicine] produced statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep....
In the first ever controlled trial of a CBM in RA [rheumatoid arthritis], a significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed following Sativex treatment."
Jan. 2006 - Rheumatology
The Journal of Neuroimmunology, in their Sep. 2005 article titled "Cannabinoids and the Immune System: Potential For The Treatment of Inflammatory Diseases?" by J. Ludovic and Takashi Yamamura, stated:
"Studies from chronic cannabis smokers have provided much of the evidence for immunomodulatory [modifying or regulating the immune system] effects of cannabis in humans...
Cannabinoids can modulate both the function and secretion of cytokines [regulatory proteins] from immune cells.
Therefore, cannabinoids may be considered for treatment of inflammatory disease."
Sep. 2005 - Journal of Neuroimmunology
Ethan Russo, MD, Senior Medical Advisor at the Cannabinoid Research Institute, stated in a 2005 Americans for Safe Access brochure titled "Arthritis and Medical Marijuana":
"Patients have long told us that cannabis has been helpful to them in the treatment of their arthritic conditions.
Science has now demonstrated that the THC component of cannabis is a very effective analgesic (pain killer), and that the CBD (cannabidiol) component has unique immunomodulatory benefits as an antagonist of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, supporting benefits in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis."
2005 - Ethan Russo, MD
Tod Mikuriya, MD, a psychiatrist and medical coordinator, stated in the 2002 article titled "Medicinal Uses of Cannabis," published on his website:
"Clinical interviews of over 6500 members at cannabis buyers clubs and patients in my office practice lead to this generalization: Many illnesses or conditions present with both inflammation and muscle spasm. Cannabis is both an antispasmodic and anti inflammatory....
Chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis and lumbosacral disease responds well to cannabis compared with other analgesics."
2002 - Tod Mikuriya, MD
J. Michael Walker, PhD, Professor of Psychology and the Linda and Jack Gill Chair of Neuroscience at the University of Indiana, in the Dec. 2000 issue of Arthritis Today, stated:
"The spinal cord is loaded with cannabinoid receptors. These cannabinoid compounds [from marijuana] apparently reduce swelling from inflammation [a major symptom of arthritis]. But more than that, they kill the pain from inflammation specifically. They work on the peripheral nerves that carry pain from your joint into the spinal cord."
Dec. 2000 - J. Michael Walker, PhD
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."
2005 - Americans for Safe Access (ASA)
James McKoy, MD, Chief of Rheumatology at Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu, Hawaii, stated in the Dec. 2000 issue of Arthritis Today:
"I have one patient with rheumatoid arthritis who uses it for pain and, other than getting a 'high,' it hasn't reduced any of her needs for DMARDs [disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs], NSAIDs [non- steroidal anti inflammatory drugs], prednisone or Vicodin.
I see no change in her complaints of pain."
Dec. 2000 - James McKoy, MD
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), in its July 2005 "Research Report," stated:
"Research is underway to examine the effects of smoked marijuana and extracts of marijuana on appetite stimulation, certain types of pain [including arthritis], and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. However, the inconsistency of THC dosage in different marijuana samples poses a major hindrance to valid trials and to the safe and effective use of the drug.
Finally, little is known about the many chemicals besides THC that are in marijuana, or their possible deleterious impact on patients with medical conditions."
July 2005 - National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Gabriel Nahas, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Medicine at Columbia University, wrote in a Mar. 1997 editorial published in the Wall Street Journal:
"THC (or marijuana) does not interfere directly with the endorphin system... Indeed, it increases the perception of pain [a symptom of arthritis]."
Mar. 1997 - Gabriel Nahas, MD, PhD
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (UNDCP) Director John Walters stated in an Apr. 21, 2006 press release:
"Too many of our citizens suffer from pain [a symptom of arthritis] and chronic illnesses.
Smoking illegal drugs may make some people 'feel better.' However, civilized societies and modern day medical practices differentiate between inebriation and the safe, supervised delivery of proven medicine by legitimate doctors."
Apr. 21, 2006 - Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)