In the United States, CBD sales is projected to boom to $23 billion by 2023. This remarkable financial forecast serves as an indicator of the huge demand for a natural alternative to treat various ailments. It’s no surprise some CBD products are marketed just for gout.
Let’s be clear from the start, CBD will not prevent you from getting gout. No evidence has proven it will lower your uric acid level. The good news is CBD has powerful pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, it will help you cope with symptoms of gout.
Here are the topics that will explain what CBD is and how it can help during a gout attack:
- CBD explained: the law, differences from THC
- The endocannabinoid system (ECS) linked to different functions and parts in the body
- Special receptors found in the ECS control how the body reacts to CBD
- CBD reduces pain and inflammation due to arthritis and gout
- Other conditions and symptoms CBD improves
- Safety and regulatory awareness
- CBD products and methods
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis and marijuana. Cannabis plants can differ in CBD concentrations.
Cannabis sativa, also called industrial hemp contains the highest amounts CBD and lowest amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is why industrial hemp is the recommended plant source by law.
Are CBD products legal?
Yes. The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized CBD products by differentiating industrial hemp from other cannabis species. CBD is federally legal only if it is derived from a hemp plant tested with no more than 0.3% THC. On the other hand, cannabis or marijuana plants with more than 0.3% THC are federally illegal.
Since the marijuana and CBD industry is relatively new, laws and regulations on federal and state levels are still inconsistent and ambiguous. Be aware that each state implements different laws and conditions for CBD products. You can check your state’s laws for CBD and marijuana here.
CBD and Your Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
To understand the benefits of CBD oil, it’s important to know the basic functions of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is a system discovered in the 1990s in humans and other vertebrates.
This system is a network of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes that regulate physiological processes like your appetite, sleep, mood, metabolism, pain tolerance, neuro-protection and heart function. Endocannabinoids are compounds produced normally by our bodies.
Consequently, the ECS comprises of specific receptors that either bind or react to different cannabinoids. By interacting with the ECS, CBD enhances the functions of the immune system, the central nervous system, the brain, organs, connective tissues, and glands.
Two Receptors Vital to CBD Effects
In the ECS, there are two known types of receptors that respond to cannabinoids:
- Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 (CB1)- connects to neuro-pathways of the brain, spine, and reproductive organs
- Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2 (CB2)- reacts more to the immune system and inflammation signals
The majority of CB1 receptors corresponds to cognitive actions like coordination, mood, thinking, memory, and appetite. These receptors accept and bind to THC, which is the cannabinoid that affects your cognitive behavior.
As for CB2, these receptors react to CBD, but not THC. Furthermore, CBD does not necessarily bind to CB2 receptors, rather signals the immune system to respond to pain and inflammation. I will elaborate on this in a later section on how it is relative to gout.
To be clear, CBD does not have the same psychoactive properties as THC. Thus, CBD will not make you feel high. Each cannabinoid interacts differently with two specific chemical receptors and pathways, which causes different effects in the body.
CBD Used for Same Symptoms of Arthritis and Gout
As of now, there is no evidence-based research to support CBD can treat hyperuricemia- the overload of uric acid in the body because of overproduction and poor excretion. Hyperuricemia is the main cause of gout, where severe inflammation and acute pain in joints are two major symptoms.
[ For more an depth look at hyperuricemia and uric acid production: Five YouTube Videos That Best Explain Gout ]
In animal studies, those given CBD suffered less joint degradation and lowered inflammatory disease. Various vitro and animal testing have provided evidence CBD improving arthritis symptoms, but actual human studies have yet to be validated.
How CBD Reduces Inflammation In Joints
Cell studies have demonstrated CBD to be a very effective anti-inflammatory agent to autoimmune disorders related to multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and hepatitis.
With regards to the ECS, researchers have found an increased number of CB2 receptors in joints and synovial tissues of arthritis patients. The study concluded that cannabinoids decrease inflammation by suppressing signals from the immune system to stressed areas of the body.
Remember, inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to injury or infection. In the case of gout, your immune system responds to the build up of urate crystals irritating a specific joint.
Additionally, CBD blocks the response signals of CB2 receptors linked to the immune system. This limits the chemical reactions by the body, which results to less inflammation in the gouty joint.
How about those times when the pain is bearable, but your foot is still swollen to squeeze into your shoes? A CBD product can be an effective anti-inflammatory alternative to NSAIDs (ie: ibuprofen) for gout.
How CBD is Reduces Pain
Encouraging studies have indicated cannabinoid products could become a legitimate treatment for pain relief in arthritis patients. In the same way, this applies to all gout sufferers as well.
The presence of CBD alerts the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids. One in particular called anandamide, reduces pain sensitivity by binding to CB1 receptors and results to limiting pain signals to the brain.
This pain relief process is similar to taking ibuprofen or tylenol, but CBD works through the endocannabinoid system. Since CBD uses different pathways to the brain, it may have stronger effects in lowering pain sensitivity. This is related to having a lower tolerance to a new substance.
Compounding to the known reports of addiction, doctors have been over-prescribing opiates to gout patients to deal with the pain. Since there is a growing opiate epidemic in the United States, CBD can be a non-addictive alternative treatment.
If you find yourself taking higher doses of painkillers to get through your gout attacks, your body may have naturally built up a tolerance. CBD provides another source to alleviate the pain with less side effects and addictive stimulants.
[For an in-depth look at the two drugs prescribed most for gout: Febuxostat Vs Allopurinol: Effectiveness, Side Effects, Warnings]
CBD Benefits For Other Conditions
The effectiveness of CBD on general health and arthritic symptoms are proven in the following conditions.
The most well known breakthrough was in 2018 when the FDA approved a CBD solution for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy; Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Evidence based research confirmed CBD significantly reduced the number of seizures by balancing signals to the brain through the ECS.
Symptoms to Treatments for Cancer
Many claims may have you believe CBD prevents cancer, but there is no evidence. However, many research studies are underway investigating the possible link to CBD and tumor growth.
In any case, CBD has shown to reduce vomiting, nausea and aches, the primary symptoms from chemotherapy. Two cannabinoid drugs have been approved by the FDA to combat those side effects: Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone).
Treatments For Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
For multiple sclerosis, the use of cannabinoid based drug Sativex improved muscle stiffness and reduced muscle spasms. Sativex is legal in the United Kingdom, but not legal in the United States.
Also note, the drugs mentioned here, contain CBD and THC. Researchers have determined the cannabinoids work best by the entourage effect, where a combination of several cannabinoids provide the most therapeutic effects.
Some preliminary studies have drawn positive results that cannabinoids provide benefits people with diabetes. Another study found the endocannabinoid system can influence the sensitivity of the body when reacting to insulin.
Evidently, this is relative to gout patients because there is a known link to diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have gout, and people with gout are more likely to get diabetes.
High Blood Pressure – Heart Disease
With high blood pressure comes a direct relation to heart health. It is still unclear how exactly gout increases cardiovascular disease. However, doctors have noted the increased stress and inflammation from gout are not limited to gouty joints, but also affects other parts of the body including the heart.
“Gout is not just a disease of the joints: It’s a disease that causes inflammation in the joints and in the body. It’s not just a pain in the toe – it affects other organs, too, including the heart.”
Results from animal and cell studies have indicated CBD protects the heart by relaxing blood vessels, reducing inflammation, and combating oxidative stress. Thus, some researchers believe that it could reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but human trials have not yet been conducted.
Safety and Regulations
Since CBD is classified as a dietary supplement and not a medicine, the FDA does not regulate it. CBD products, like vitamins fall under the same regulations, which are less strict as medicines.
Because of less regulations on dietary supplements, ingredients and percentages may not be as accurate as medications. You will still need to check facts and reviews on reputable manufacturers.
Some side effects from CBD are dry mouth, drowsiness, lightheartedness and nausea. However, the FDA has not had any formidable reason to issue any health or safety warning on CBD to the public. The FDA has sent warning letters to certain manufacturers based on misleading claims and ingredients on their websites or product labels.
Before using CBD for gout, confirm with your doctor that it is safe to try. Be sure you do not have any current medication or preexisting conditions that will be affected.
Types of Products and Methods of Use
The explosion of the number of CBD products, as well cannabis products in general demonstrates the creativity and ingenuity of its manufacturers. CBD oil can also be infused into a variety of products and applied in different ways.
Four methods how CBD can be taken:
- Inhaling by smoking or vaping; oil solution
- Applying it to your skin topically; cream, lotion, ointment
- Taking it under the tongue (sublingual); tincture, dropper
- Eating or ingesting by mouth; edibles, capsules, tablets
The time CBD takes effect is different for each method and individual. Vaping is the quickest to enter the bloodstream, about 2-5 minutes. Topicals can take up to 10 minutes. Edibles and tinctures take the longest because it will need to be digested and absorbed; about from 15 to 30 minutes.
For a new health product that requires more human studies to validate its many benefits, millions of people are already using CBD products to treat various symptoms of chronic conditions including arthritis. CBD possesses pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing, and immune system enhancing properties alleviating two major gout symptoms; excruciating pain and extreme swelling of joints. Most importantly, the FDA has not reported any serious side effects.
As the general population realizes it will not get you stoned, more CBD based products will be in mainstream retailers. In my opinion, sooner than later, it will also become become a direct competitor to existing OTC drugs for pain-relief and inflammation.
Federal laws will need to be amended or established as new research proves CBD can complement or replace medicinal treatments. FDA regulations on will remain lax as long as CBD is classified a dietary supplement. Dosages and active ingredients will need stricter evaluation and certifications by a trusted authority. Even then, it has not stopped millions of people from purchasing CBD products.
Before trying a CBD product, do your due diligence. Read up on your local laws, review manufacturers, and consult with your doctor.