How To Use CBD for Arthritis

CBD for Arthritis
Dr. Zora DeGrandpre

Written by Dr. Zora DeGrandpre

Updated January 5, 2021

Arthritis is a condition marked by inflammation of the joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, redness, tenderness, swelling and stiffness. Many people also have significant stiffness in the joints and a reduced mobility of that joint—this is usually referred to as a decreased range of motion.

350 million people around the world suffer from arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) is due to wear and tear from use and overuse of joints. It affects the cartilage on the ends of the bones of the joints, causing the joints to “grind” against each end. OA increases as we age and is more common in women and can also be associated with obesity, joint injury and overuse.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder—the immune system gets “confused” and begins to attack the lining of the joint capsule- the synovial membrane which then becomes inflamed, swollen and painful. RA is more common in women.
  • Psoriatic arthritis is associated with the skin condition, psoriasis. It can affect any joint either on just one side or both sides of the body.
  • Other forms of arthritis—there are over 100—include gout, juvenile arthritis, reactive arthritis, infectious arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

The long-term effects of arthritis are degeneration and destruction of the joints. 

While many conventional medications for arthritis are available, they are not always effective and some carry significant adverse side effects.

Many arthritis sufferers are choosing to use medical cannabis for its anti-inflammatory properties, pain management, and because of minimal side effects. CBD is derived from hemp—a cousin of cannabis—and has been shown to have potential benefits for arthritis.

Holding For Hand

The pain associated with arthritis is mainly due to inflammation.  CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and thus possibly reduce the pain of arthritis.

CBD is non-intoxicating which is a fancy way of saying it will not get you high. Its primary benefit appears to be the anti-inflammatory actions—this action has been shown in several different animal studies to benefit arthritis pain1, 2. While human studies are limited—keep your eye on these pages as more data is published—preliminary evidence indicates that topical application of CBD can directly and positively affect pain in arthritic joints3, 4, 5.

Are there side effects when using CBD for arthritis?

Side effects are always possible and you should always be aware of drug interactions with CBD, especially if you plan to use CBD in high doses (in the hundreds of milligrams).

Side effects which can occur with CBD are drowsiness, upset stomach, diarrhea, sedation, and dry mouth6. Generally, CBD is very well tolerated and most people have  few significant side effects with CBD. 

If you are new to CBD, start with a low dose to assess if you will have any side effects. Then you can start slowly increasing the dose until you reach pain relief.

How does CBD work for arthritis?

CBD is considered an effective anti-inflammatory agent—and inflammation is at the root of arthritic pain. CBD appears to decrease inflammation in the body and at the affected joint so that a person with arthritis will have less pain.

Other important cannabinoids with anti-inflammatory properties include: THC, cannabichromene (CBC), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabigivarin (CBGV), and cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).

How should I use CBD for arthritis?

Always speak with a doctor before using CBD, especially if you already take other medications.  

CBD can cause drug interactions. It may increase or decrease the blood levels of different drugs—it is best to talk to your doctor and pharmacist about your specific risks for interactions. This may be especially important if you are taking any of the following medications7:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin or clarithromycin
  • Anticoagulants or blood thinners
  • Statins
  • Some heart medications including calcium channel blockers (eg. Amlodipine, diltiazem, felodipine, verapamil)

Because of the connection between joint inflammation, arthritis and pain, using CBD for arthritis may reduce the arthritic pain and discomfort.

Most delivery methods all work well for relief from arthritis but for smaller areas, topical may often be best. Other delivery methods can include vaping, tinctures, edibles and capsules.

The fastest relief can come from vaping, using tinctures, and applying topicals to treat local pain. You should be aware, however that while vaping can produce the fastest results, there are still a number of health issues with vaping. While vape products from reputable companies appear to be safe, there is much we don’t know about the effects of long-term or short-term vaping on the lungs.

CBD and THC may work synergistically together for relieving pain. The ratios of CBD to THC most commonly used for pain relief vary from 2:1 (CBD to THC) to 1:2 (CBD:THC). Keep in mind that if you use larger doses of CBD, maintaining those ratios may not be legal in your state. Both cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory. 

If you dislike the psychoactive effects of THC, you can stick to just CBD, or mostly CBD during the day and add in some THC products at night.

Always start with a low dose of CBD and increase it in small, even increments until you reach the desired relief you are seeking.

What are terpenes, and are terpenes beneficial for arthritis?

When CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, another very large class of plant substances—the terpenes—are extracted as well.  Terpenes are currently a “hot research” topic because many have beneficial medicinal properties that may work alongside CBD in what is known as the “entourage effect”.The following terpenes are good to look for because they work synergistically with CBD to provide relief from inflammation8. 

  • β-caryophyllene (beta-caryophyllene)
  • α-Pinene (alpha-pinene)
  • Myrcene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene

What do research studies have to say about CBD for arthritis?

  • CBD, cannabinoids, and compounds in cannabis decrease inflammation by blocking the formation of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are a general term for substances that act as intracellular messengers and are made in response to an infection, injury, or triggered by an improperly working immune system (as in an autoimmune disease)9, 10.
  • Pre-clinical studies—ie. animal studies—have shown that CBD can act through a variety of mechanisms to reduce the inflammatory response thereby reducing pain11, 12, 13.
  • There have been no studies done in humans to date—but watch this space!
  • THC has been shown to be 20 times more anti-inflammatory than aspirin and 2 times more anti-inflammatory than hydrocortisone14.

Recently, the Arthritis Foundation produced a set of guidelines for the use of CBD in arthritis. In the guidelines, they state: “We are intrigued by the potential of CBD to help people find pain relief and are on record urging the FDA to expedite the study and regulation of these products. While currently there is limited scientific evidence about CBD’s ability to help ease arthritis symptoms, and no universal quality standards or regulations exist, we have listened to our constituents and consulted with leading experts** to develop these general recommendations for adults who are interested in trying CBD15.”


1Malfait AM, Gallily R, Sumariwalla PF, Malik AS, Andreakos E, Mechoulam R, Feldmann M. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2000 Aug 15;97(17):9561-6. 

2Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, Abshire SM, McIlwrath SL, Stinchcomb AL, Westlund KN. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and painrelated behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain. 2016 Jul;20(6):936-48.

3Hendricks O, Andersen TE, Christiansen AA, Primdahl J, Hauge EM, Ellingsen T, Horsted TI, Bachmann AG, Loft AG, Bojesen AB, Østergaard M. Efficacy and safety of cannabidiol followed by an open label add-on of tetrahydrocannabinol for the treatment of chronic pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis: protocol for a multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled study. BMJ open. 2019 Jun 1;9(6):e028197.

4Gusho CA, Court T. Cannabidiol: A Brief Review of Its Therapeutic and Pharmacologic Efficacy in the Management of Joint Disease. Cureus. 2020 Mar;12(3).

5Boyaji S, Merkow J, Elman RN, Kaye AD, Yong RJ, Urman RD. The role of cannabidiol (CBD) in chronic pain management: an assessment of current evidence. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2020 Feb 1;24(2):4.

6Chesney E, Oliver D, Green A, Sovi S, Wilson J, Englund A, Freeman TP, McGuire P. Adverse effects of cannabidiol: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020 Apr 8:1-8.

7Brown JD, Winterstein AG. Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug-Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use. J Clin Med. 2019 Jul 8;8(7):989. doi: 10.3390/jcm8070989. PMID: 31288397; PMCID: PMC6678684.

8Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO. The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Terpenoids from Cannabis. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018 Dec 26;3(1):282-290. doi: 10.1089/can.2018.0014. PMID: 30596146; PMCID: PMC6308289.

9Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem. 2009 Oct;1(7):1333-49. doi: 10.4155/fmc.09.93. PMID: 20191092; PMCID: PMC2828614.

10Beg S, Swain S, Hasan H, Barkat MA, Hussain MS. Systematic review of herbals as potential anti-inflammatory agents: Recent advances, current clinical status and future perspectives. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jul;5(10):120-37. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.91102. PMID: 22279370; PMCID: PMC3263046.

11Mlost J, Bryk M, Starowicz K. Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 23;21(22):8870. doi: 10.3390/ijms21228870. PMID: 33238607; PMCID: PMC7700528.

12Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, Abshire SM, McIlwrath SL, Stinchcomb AL, Westlund KN. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016 Jul;20(6):936-48. doi: 10.1002/ejp.818. Epub 2015 Oct 30. PMID: 26517407; PMCID: PMC4851925.

13 Philpott HT, OʼBrien M, McDougall JJ. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain. 2017 Dec;158(12):2442-2451. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052. PMID: 28885454; PMCID: PMC5690292.

14Russo EB. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 Feb;4(1):245-59. doi: 10.2147/tcrm.s1928. PMID: 18728714; PMCID: PMC2503660.

15(2019, September 24). Retrieved January 05, 2021, from

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  • Jade Devine says:

    I like what you’re doing one thing I can recommend to make it a lot easier for you to educate first teach people about the endocannabinoid system and what it is and what it does.. he’ll make everything a lot easier to explain. Keep up the great work love it

  • Hey Jade. Thanks for your comment, good feedback, and great idea! 🙂

  • Mb says:

    Thank you for interesting article. Starting to have increasing joint pain and looking to healthier alternatives.

    Just noticed a spelling error in one of your paragraphs.
    How does CBD work for arthritis?

    CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. CBD decreses (decreAses)

  • Thank you, fixed! 🙂

  • alfonso says:

    I’m so glad I came to know about cannabis pills, it’s been 3 months now and I’m still pretty much free of the chronic back pain that I had for nearly two decades prior. I am managing my anxiety and IBS very well and I have not been on that stupid pill (omeprazole) for over 2 months now which I never use to be able to go a day without

  • Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Alfonso 🙂

  • Jack says:

    I have pseudogout and when it strikes I use another word for “pseduo”. I get hit about every two months now and would like to try CBD oils or pills. Which do you recommend and at what dosage? Oh, I also have high BP but have that under control with a little bit of meds, which I’d like to get off of.
    Is there an issue shipping to Florida?

  • Hey Jack. Thanks for your inquiry. I see a lot of people seem to prefer the oil to the pills but it really all depends on your personal taste and what will work best for you. The oil generally will have a faster onset of effects whereas the effect from the pills will last longer. Overall, both pills and oil are great ways to take CBD oil. Regarding the dosage, you can start with the serving size listed on the label of the product you get and then go from there, increasing slowly and gradually only if needed. Two of my favorite brands for CBD are Bluebird Botanicals and Nuleaf Naturals. You will have no issues getting it shipped to FL, so no worries there. Good luck and please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with 🙂

  • Holly says:

    My mom has sever osto arthritis I bought her some oil 1000 mg to put under her tongue. Nothing yet still in pain. Should I give her more mg?

  • Hey Holly. Thanks for your question. I’m sorry to hear your mom is struggling. Yes, as long as you and her are comfortable with it, you can try to increase the dosage gradually to see if it helps more. I know CBD is marketed as a miracle but the reality is it’s just like many solutions: they will not work for everyone but it’s worth a try to see if it will help. Let me know please if you have more questions and I’ll do my best to help.

  • Giorgio says:

    Hi there,

    I have 9 years old daughter with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Doctors have no clue about it and just prescribe us methotrexate and medrol. We are not using it. Instead of that we change our diet and added some supplements like curcumin, Harpagophytum procumbens, fish oil etc… But results are not that good. It’s spreading from fingers and wrists to ankles. Anyway, we are seriously thinking of using CBD oil, even growing some hemp without THC and produce it by ourself. I’m looking at shops and they have variants like CBD oil 3%, 5%, 10%, 15%. Any advise you can give us about dosage and with what percentage should we start. Many thanks in advance.

  • Hi Giorgio. Thanks for your inquiry. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. I cannot provide advice on dosing. Most people, in general, who use CBD start with a very small dose and then slowly add more if needed. Again, this is very general information from what I’ve encountered. Since I am not a doctor, I cannot provide specific dosing recommendations. Where are you located? I may be able to recommend a good physician who works with CBD.

  • Sharon says:

    Hiya we started my nan on a low dose cbd the 2.5 from holland and barrat uk, we’re looking into the 5% 2 weeks on as she’s run out of a 10ml bottle, both she and us family members definitely niticed a difference to starts with but nan now is sayi g not as noticeable hence the up in % when ordering the next bottle. Nan has rheumatoid arthritis and can’t take anti inflammatory due to stomach ulcers and also cant tale steroids for other reasons. Any advice would be awesome she suffers insomnia too always has though. Thankyou

  • Hey Sharon. Thanks for your inquiry. Sorry to hear about your Nan but happy to know the CBD is providing her some relief. I would say to experiment with the dose to see what is best for her needs. Most people find they need to experiment a little before they find their sweet spot with the dosage. Let me know what specific questions you might have and I will do my best to help 🙂

  • Terri Larabee says:

    Thank you for the article as all of this cbd oil is so confusing. Trying to find a reputable company is mind boggling as well. I would like to ask if you are affiliated with the companies you recommend? I feel if a person is not getting any financial kickback when recommending a company a truer feel for the product is portrayed. I don’t have an extra 100-200 just lying around to try something that is sub-par or only produced to fatten someone else’s wallet.
    Thank so much for all you do to help others that are lost in this sea of information!

  • Hey Terri. Thanks for your comment. I completely understand your concern. That’s why I try to find as many discounts on CBD products as I can for our subscribers. I am affiliated with the companies I recommend in that I think they make good products and offer good customer service to their clients. There are a lot of brands to choose from and these are some of my favorites. I do not work for any of these companies and they do not pay me advertising fees. I get a small commission whenever a customer buys a CBD product from clicking one of the links I have to my favorite suppliers. This commission goes towards keeping this website running. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll do my best to help 🙂

  • Stacy Terrell says:


    I was recently notified that I have severe Osteoarthritis in my left hip. I have been dealing with pain for over a year. I have noticed that it’s getting worse and am now limping pretty badly. I have also been experiencing stiffness and pain in my left buttock and lower back. I was been prescribed Mobic…however, it doesn’t work at all. I have taken Morphine and a couple others that have provided no relief.

    I would like to know if CBD would possibly help?


  • Hey Stacy. Thanks for your question. Sorry to hear about the pain you’re experiencing. It’s not possible for me to know if CBD would help you as every case is different. What I can say is many people are successfully using CBD for pain relief from arthritis. Please do check with your doctor first if you decide you want to give CBD a try. Let me know if you have additional questions and I will do my best to help you 🙂

  • Susan T says:

    Hi CBD Professor: Please delete this if it is not appropriate. But in response to Stacy Terrell above: My husband is waiting for hip surgery, that keeps getting postponed. He is in terrible pain. I have been rubbing a commercial CBD creme that includes Arnica, on his hip, lower back area, knee and ankle, twice a day. It helps with the pain while he is waiting for surgery. I think it helps his mental outlook on life too. As CBD Prof, recommends, he checked with his doctor first.

  • Susan, I am grateful for your feedback. Thank you for doing the right thing and checking with his doctor 🙂

  • Doris Qualls says:

    I have lots of pain from arthritis also I have bursitis in my left hip.
    Which one would be better for my bursitis.

  • Hello Doris. Thank you for your question. I cannot provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before using CBD.

  • Veronica says:

    I have a stress reaction on my lower lip….dermatologist put my on oral antibiotic and topical anti-inflammatory to reduce the inflammation. Nothing seems to be helping so I bought CBD tincture and started it today. The dispensary instructed me to take a dropper full like I would ibuprofen, every 4-6 hours. I just wanted to get your opinion… is 500 mg CBD tincture.

  • Hi Veronica. Thanks for your question. I do not have a medical opinion on this. Please make sure your dermatologist knows about the CBD. If it was me, I would ask my dermatologist her thoughts on trying a CBD topical directly applied to the area of irritation. This is not medical advice. I hope it heals soon.

  • Christine says:

    I have a 500 mg bottle of cbd tincture…not having much luck with……..I am taking 10 – 15 drops a day for rhumatoid arthritis…I was taking hemp oil with better relief but no long available where I buy it had to change…please help my pain is taking over……..

  • Hi Christine. I am sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing. I am not a medical professional so am limited in how I can help. I’ll do my best to answer any questions. What are your questions?

  • Susánne says:

    Any in Little River, myrtle beach, sc?

  • Hi what exactly are you asking?

  • Jim says:

    I also have RA (severe) with Vadim’s CBD school I was able to find the answer to the pain that comes with RA.
    I tried drops and gummy chews it required too many drops about four full dropper and six chews, now I use Bluebird Botanicals capsules I take two then wait about an hour to see if it helps if not i take one or two more until pain is relieved and sleep sets in. This is the answer to get off the opiods… Thanks again Vadim

  • Hi Jim. You are very welcome. I am happy to hear about your success with CBD 🙂

  • Toni says:

    Hi I have high blood pressure. What is the correct way to tak cbd. I also have tmj. Also how much should I take

  • Hey Toni. Thanks for your question. I am not able to provide any kind of specific medical recommendations on how to use CBD. Please speak with your doctor before using CBD. A good place to start can be the serving size listed on the bottle or less, depending on your needs. You may need to experiment with the dose over time to see if you need more or less than the serving size. Again, please clear it with your doctor before using CBD. Thanks.

  • Stephanie Dixon says:

    Hi! I am suffering from spinal stenosis- significant ligamentum flavin and facet joint hypertrophy (not a clue what it really means!) but was wondering if you could it me in touch with a doctor here in the Midlands UK who works withCBD. Fingers crossed!! Must sort this out! Haven’t the first idea about dosage or efficacy in relation to these issues!
    Thanks for being there!

  • Hey Stephanie. Thanks for your comment. I don’t know of any doctors in that area. Good luck in your search and please let me know if you have any other questions.

  • John Luzietti says:

    I’ve taking 25 mg of CBD oil tincture each day for arthritis. I do not feel it’s working, so today I decided to increase the dosage to 50 mg each day. If that doesn’t work, I suppose I will quit this CBD experiment. I now have extreme pain in my left hand and left knee. I am under the care of a physician and he is adjusting my meds to accommodate the CBD.

  • Hello John. Thanks for your comment. It’s great you are working alongside your physician to adjust your meds and monitor you while you try the CBD. I hope it works for you and provides the relief you deserve. Let us know please if you have any questions we can help you with 🙂

  • Sharon says:

    I have osteoarthritis total knee joint replacement in a lot of pain when would be the best time to take my CBD drops with food without food in the morning before bed both thank you

  • Hi Sharon. Thanks for your question. Many people find taking CBD with food is best. You may find this video to be helpful. Regarding when to take it, morning or night, this is entirely up to you. Many people find success in taking CBD multiple times throughout the day. Please do let your doctor know you will be using CBD and let us know if you have any other questions we can help you with 🙂

  • Liz says:

    My husband is using CBD oil for insomnia and I have been reading about terpenes. If he adds some diluted myrcene and/or linalool to the cbd oil, should that enhance the effect at night?

  • Hey Liz. Thanks for your great question. I have no personal experience with this but it sounds like an interesting experiment. So long as your husband feels safe about giving it a try, go for it and let us know the results here at the CBD School 🙂

  • Fat Chants says:

    Why bother answering questions here at all? you consistently state that you can’t give medical advice and basically all the self proclaimed “CBD Professor” offers to pretty much every question is basically “Can’t say, really, but good luck”

    either lose the silly title or earn it by finding a more useful way to answer questions. you can offer much anectodal info by referring to things you’be heard without giving medical advice.

    and if you don’t know about lecithin and curcumin and piperine added to CBD in edibles, you know not nearly enough.

  • Fat Chants says:

    Why bother answering questions here at all? you consistently state that you can’t give medical advice and basically all the self proclaimed “CBD Professor” offers to pretty much every question is basically “Can’t say, really, but good luck”

    either lose the silly title or earn it by finding a more useful way to answer questions. you can offer much anectodal info by referring to things you’be heard without giving medical advice.

    and if you don’t know about lecithin and curcumin and piperine added to CBD in edibles, you know not nearly enough.

  • Thank you for your feedback! 🙂

  • Thank you for your feedback! 🙂

  • Asi J says:

    amazing post on CBD for arthritis. I think it will be beneficial for the arthritis patient. Thank you for sharing such information.

  • Mike Draper says:

    I am considering CBD capsules for stiff joints, hands, one shoulder and knees. What would you recommend for a starting dosage.

  • Hi Mike. Thanks for your question. There is no standardized dose of CBD at this time. Most people will start with low doses of 5mg to 20 mg of CBD. After trying the first dose for a short period (3 days to a week), people will increase the dose by 5 mg at a time, only if needed. There is a bit of experimentation involved in finding the sweet spot dose. The main thing is to increase the dose gradually and see if it works for you, instead of taking a big dose (100 mg or more) when it may not be necessary. Hope that helps. We recommend speaking to your medical professional about using CBD. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us again if you need more help 🙂

  • Brent Gilbert says:

    I have 3 drams of CBD isolate. I plan to use half to make a topical. I would like to ingest the rest but I am unsure how to take it and adjust the dose. I have been taking 10 ml. to start my day but I would like to move up to 20ml. It doesn’t dissolve in orange juice so I’m looking for the best delivery system.


  • Hi Brent. What delivery systems have you used in the past that worked best for you?

  • Peter says:

    What % is the best to take. We are taking 15% CBD oil, is ok. I read that 30% and over would be much better.

  • Peter says:

    The best way are suppository rectal CBD, I am using them.


    I have crohns disease n I have severe joint pain ( athritis) my doctor wants me to start Humira. Im concerned about the side effects… especially since I had lung cancer 5 yrs ago. Can cbd be a safer alternative for me.


    Will 100mg of terpenes help with my athritis pain.. to start?

  • Hi Bridgette. We are not able to answer medical questions of that nature. Please speak to a doctor or medical professional about this. Thanks for understanding.

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