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Recent findings presented at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Annual Congress state that 60 percent of arthritis patients have used cannabidiol to relieve pain and other symptoms associated with their disorder. It would seem that more people are trusting in reports of how CBD oil benefits joint pain and related chronic discomforts. What will this trend mean for the future of rheumatology and other types of medicine?

As part of a patient behavior investigation, a 77-item survey was given to 1,059 participants from two research registries: ArthritisPower and CreakyJoints. With just a small minority—less than 30 percent—reporting satisfaction with their current treatment approach, alternatives for easing joint pain are in high demand. CBD has begun to be more widely explored and utilized as such a treatment.

More than half of the respondents reported that they had used some form of cannabis to help ease their symptoms, whether whole plant medical marijuana or CBD on its own. 44 percent stated that they used such substances as a complementary or supplemental treatment to their current medication, while 30 percent stated that they were using CBD or medical marijuana to reduce or discontinue their use of conventional medication.

More than half of the respondents reported using CBD and 37 percent reported medical marijuana, Many stated that they had heard about either form of cannabis as a rheumatic diseases treatment from friends, their physician, and information they had found online. CBD oil benefits for pain are among the most widely publicized and shared, along with anti-anxiety, mood lifting, sleep-promoting, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Respondents were also interested in easy access to information on how CBD and medical marijuana is best used to affect symptoms, including specific details on efficacy, and potential interactions with other medications. Practitioners of rheumatology may want to take note, as the majority of respondents said they want to be able to acquire such details directly from their health care provider, but nearly 35 percent did say they were receptive to online information resources as well.

Although there is demand for helpful information on CBD and arthritis, it’s not as simple as connecting patients with educational content, as currently, there are more questions than answers. Double-blind, randomized, clinically-backed studies are lagging behind the prevalence of CBD and marijuana use among patients with arthritis.

There is a plethora of anecdotal support for the benefits of treating arthritis pain and inflammation with cannabidiol-based substances, but the efficacy has not been fully confirmed by clinically-controlled and long-term trials. Marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 substance can be a major obstacle to such research. CBD’s still murky standing under the FDA is a similar barrier for studying and defining its effects on specific chronic conditions.

Since there is clearly such demand for information and a growing number of people who are already using CBD to treat arthritis, there is a strong precedent to examine the effects. Only then can patients make a fully informed decision on their treatment options and physicians confidently guide them.