Gout is a common yet complex form of arthritis. Crystallization of excess uric acid leads to deposits in the joints, which become inflamed, red, and tender. Inflammation and pain are two of the primary symptoms associated with gout, and they are also two problems that seem to respond well to cannabis. In particular, cannabidiol (CBD) oil has demonstrated effectiveness in suppressing inflammatory pain.
The Chinese and other civilizations used cannabis as early as 2900 BCE to treat joint pain and gout. But modern research is in its infancy with regard to using CBD oil for gout. However, some studies have indicated that cannabis may be beneficial in treating the joint pain and inflammation linked to the disease without the unpleasant side effects of some prescription medications.
A 2015 study published in the European Journal of Pain examined the effects of transdermal CBD (applied to the skin) in a rat model of arthritis. Results indicated that “transdermal administration of CBD has long-lasting therapeutic effects without psychoactive side-effects. Thus, the use of topical CBD has potential as an effective treatment of arthritic symptomatology,” according to the authors of the study. The findings of this study, though not directly linked to humans, are encouraging for gout patients who are seeking pain and inflammation management through CBD oil.
A 2018 literature review published in Current Opinion in Pharmacology summarizes how cannabinoids have the potential to treat pain associated with osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis that causes degeneration of cartilage and bones. Also noted in the report was the fact that the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) has an important role in joint-related pain. This could pertain to gout patients who may experience high levels of pain in their joints.
Another 2018 study published in the Journal of Headache Pain reported positive findings from a cohort of medical cannabis patients. Researchers found that cannabis varieties high in the terpenes of caryophyllene and myrcene (the most prevalent chemovars on the market at the time of the study) were most successful in treating headaches, migraines, and other pain disorders, including arthritis. Again, such findings could be hopeful news for arthritis patients who are being treated specifically to relieve pain related to gout.
Actor Sir Patrick Stewart has reaped notable benefits from using medical marijuana for his arthritis. Rather than gout, Stewart suffers from osteoarthritis in both hands and has found relief with a combination of cannabis ointment, spray, and edibles. In a statement published in 2017 in Huffington Post, the actor cited a lack of adverse side effects from his cannabis treatments and shared:
“I believe that the ointment and spray have significantly reduced the stiffness and pain in my hands. I can make fists, which was not the case before I began this treatment.”
Stewart is not the only person whose painful symptoms have been alleviated with CBD. Weedmaps News reported in May 2019 that more cancer patients are opting for cannabis over opioids, according to one study cited in the article. Carmen Irigaray, a retired investment adviser, told Weedmaps that she began using cannabis oil extracts after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and undergoing radiation treatments.
Irigiray said, “It eased the pain, helped me sleep and, more importantly, kept me calm throughout the worst time of my life. I doubt I will ever stop consuming cannabis.” One cancer patient's encouraging experience could mean that good news is on the horizon for gout and other arthritis patients.
What the experts say
Dr. Jason McDougall, a professor in the department of pharmacology and anesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has been studying how medical cannabis could work to manage general arthritis pain.
In an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) Radio, McDougall analyzed the nerve endings of arthritis sufferers, saying: “They're all bare, they're all raw and responsible for feeling a lot of pain. What we hypothesize is that by locally administering these cannabis-like molecules to those nerves, we'd actually be able to repair them and reduce the pain of arthritis."
Though McDougall is speaking generally about cannabis and arthritis, one can infer that CBD oil may offer similar benefits for gout sufferers.
Dr. Daniel Clauw, professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and an expert in chronic pain, might agree. In an interview with Arthritis.org, Clauw shared some advice for using CBD oil alone (without THC) to treat different types of arthritis. Referring to the CBD oil treating knee osteoarthritis, he said: “...it appears as though it is very safe.” Clauw's guidelines for treatment include low doses of CBD in 5 to 10 milligrams twice daily and progressing to higher doses of 50 to 100 milligrams per day if needed. If symptoms persist, Clauw recommends trying a CBD product that contains a small amount of THC.
Holistic healthcare practitioner Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., has also acknowledged the potential benefits of treating painful inflammatory conditions, including gout, with CBD. In 2018, Wilson wrote in Medical News Today: “At a time when we are trying to reduce the use of pain relievers, CBD oil can be an effective approach to managing the pain of arthritis. Researchers have also recognized the role that CBD could play in reducing the pain-causing inflammation of arthritis.”
Numerous studies have shown that cannabis and CBD oil are pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory, which gives hope to individuals coping with gout. More gout-specific research is needed to verify the effectiveness of CBD oil for this condition.
Major contributions from Dr. Adie Rae.