Arthritis pain is reported as one of the most common reasons people seek usage of medical herbal cannabis in North America. In Canada, where cannabis remains a controlled substance, continued advocacy has led to recent changes in regulations that will require healthcare professionals to prescribe herbal cannabis similarly to other prescription drugs.
However, according to a survey of Canadian rheumatologists, over ⅔ of the respondents lacked confidence in their knowledge of the roles that human’s endocannabinoid system plays in health and disease, and the number was ¾ for knowledge of cannabis and cannabinoids – biologically active compounds either derived from cannabis (for eg: THC, CBD) or synthesized pharmaceutically. Almost half (45%) of the surveyed rheumatologists believed there was no current role for cannabinoids in rheumatology patient care. Consequently, 70% had never previously recommended any form of cannabinoid treatment for patients and 60% would not propose clinical trials of neither synthetic cannabinoids nor herbal cannabis. Common concerns leading to such reservation included risks of drug abuse or addiction and mental health issues. Even among physicians who believed in the therapeutic benefit of cannabis and cannabinoids and would suggest them, many were uncertain about dosing and methods of administration, mostly because of the scarcity of clinical research and guidelines.
Evidence from basic science research supporting the role of the endocannabinoid system in modulating pain and inflammation, as well as of cannabinoid molecules in relieving symptoms of rheumatic diseases has accumulated rapidly over the past decade. However, findings from the above survey highlight the need for more clinical trials in rheumatic patients, as well as guidance to inform rheumatologists on evidence regarding the therapeutic potentials and applications of herbal cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids.
At CED Clinic, we pride ourselves in the efforts that we take to stay at the bleeding edge of research of cannabis medicine. If you have questions about cannabis medicine and how it may be applied to your current treatment of rheumatic diseases, please contact our clinic today!