Pain from osteoarthritis leaves many debilitated due to stiff and swollen joints. While prescriptions are readily available for osteoarthritis sufferers, they often leave patients with the choice of living between two worlds: If they take prescription pills, they may live with less physical pain yet suffer from the wide array of side effects that pharmaceuticals are equipped with. If they choose not to take prescriptions due to side effects, they will live in the chronic physical pain caused by osteoarthritis. Basically, they are forced to choose between one form of pain or another. However, this may not be the case for much longer.
According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham UK, alongside researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Virginia Commonwealth University in the US, a specific cannabinoid is reduced during osteoarthritis, thus resulting in heightened pain and more rapid progression of the condition. Therefore it was concluded that activating the specific cannabinoid reduced in osteoarthritis patients, known as cannabinoid 2 (CB2), not only reduces pain, but also helps maintain symptoms and inhibits the speed at which the disease progresses as well.
Researchers studied human spines of deceased individuals who lived with osteoarthritis of the knee and discovered they had lower levels of CB2 receptors. The more progressed the disease was, the lower the CB2 receptor levels were. In response, Research UK and the National Institutes of Health funded a study in which researchers activated CB2 receptors in lab rats with osteoarthritis in an attempt to reduce pain. The diseased rats were injected with JWH-133, a non-psychoactive synthetic cannabinoid that binds with CB2 receptors to activate them, and the results were nothing short of fascinating.
Study reveals a new potential method for pain relief from osteoarthritis
Results showed treating osteoarthritis by increasing CB2 receptors with the use of JWH-133 injections reduced chemicals responsible for causing inflammation in osteoarthritis, reduced excitatory nerves in the spine that are stimulated by inflammation, and increased the overall amount of CB2 receptor “message” (MRNA) and protein in nerve cells of the spine. To put it simply, activating the cannabinoid receptors that are drastically reduced in osteoarthritis patients reduced inflammation, thus reducing pain and allowing the individual to lead a higher quality of life. Furthermore, since patients with late stage osteoarthritis have drastically reduced levels of CB2 receptor “message” in the spine, increasing levels of the CB2 receptor “message” might greatly reduce the severity and rate of progression of the disease.
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