Application of Oil-in-Water Cannabidiol Emulsion for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image

“Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease with unknown cause. It mainly affects joints and, without proper treatment, negatively impacts their movement, causes painful deformities, and reduces the patients’ quality of life. Current treatment options consist of various types of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), however 20-30% of patients are partially resistant to them. Therefore, development of new drugs is necessary. Possible option are compounds exhibiting their action via endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in pain and inflammation modulation. One such compound – cannabidiol (CBD) has already been shown to attenuate synovitis in animal model of RA in in vivo studies. However, it has low bioavailability due to its low water solubility and lipophilicity. This issue can be addressed by preparation of a lipid containing formulation targeting lymphatic system, another route of absorption in the body. 

Materials and Methods: CBD-containing emulsion was prepared by high-shear homogenization and its droplet size distribution was analysed by optical microscopy. The relative oral bioavailability compared to oil solution as well as total availability of CBD were assessed in a cross-over study in rats and absorption of CBD via lymphatic system was observed. The effect of CBD on the animal model of RA was determined. 

Results: Compared to oil solution, the emulsion exhibited higher absolute oral bioavailability. Significant lymphatic transport of CBD was observed in all formulations and the concentrations in lymph were calculated. The therapeutic effect of CBD on RA was confirmed as an improvement in clinical symptoms as well as morphological signs of disease activity were observed during the study. 

Conclusion: In this work, we prepared a simple stable emulsion formulation, determined the pharmacokinetic parameters of CBD and calculated its absolute bioavailability in rats. Moreover, we successfully tested the pharmaceutical application of such a formulation and demonstrated the positive effect of CBD in an animal model of RA.”

Design and function of targeted endocannabinoid nanoparticles

Scientific Reports

“Nanoparticles and nano-delivery systems are constantly being refined and developed for biomedical applications such as imaging, gene therapy, and targeted delivery of drugs. Nanoparticles deliver beneficial effects by both release of their cargo and by liberation of their constitutive structural components. The N-acylethanolamines linoleoyl ethanolamide (LEA) and oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA) both exhibit endocannabinoid-like activity. Here, we report on their ability to form nanoparticles that when conjugated with tissue-specific molecules, are capable of localizing to specific areas of the body and reducing inflammation. The facilitation of pharmacological effects by endocannabinoids at targeted sites provides a novel biocompatible drug delivery system and a therapeutic approach to the treatment, patient management and quality of life, in conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy, and cancer.”

Long-term effects of a diet supplement containing Cannabis sativa oil and Boswellia serrata in dogs with osteoarthritis following physiotherapy treatments: a randomised, placebo-controlled and double-blind clinical trial

Publication Cover

“Dogs are commonly affected by Osteoarthritis (OA). Different approaches can be used to alleviate animals’ symptoms. In this randomised, placebo-controlled and double-blind clinical trial, we performed a three months follow-up study assessing the efficacy of a food supplement containing natural ingredients (Cannabis sativa oil, Boswellia serrata Roxb. Phytosome® and Zingiber officinale extract) in dogs with OA after the interruption of physiotherapy that was performed during the previous three months. Inflammation and oxidative stress were reduced in the treated group (higher glutathione (GSH) and lower C-reactive protein [CRP] levels in blood) as well as chronic pain.”

Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study

ISRCTN - Publish with BMC

“Introduction: An estimated 54 million Americans currently suffer from debilitating arthritis. Patients who have exhausted conservative measures can be subject to chronic pain and resort to symptomatic management with anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen, and opioids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has shown promise in preclinical studies to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. The purpose of this study was to explore patient perceived effects of cannabidiol on symptoms of arthritis.

Methods: A novel anonymous questionnaire was created to evaluate perceived efficacy of cannabidiol for the treatment of arthritis. A self-selected convenience sample (N=428) was recruited through online methods including social media accounts and newsletters (The Arthritis Foundation and Savvy Cooperative) between May 5, 2020, and November 5, 2020. Statistical analysis was performed to determine differences between types of arthritis and improvements in quality-of-life symptoms. Furthermore, a regression analysis was performed to identify variables associated with decreasing or discontinuing other medications.

Results: CBD use was associated with improvements in pain (83%), physical function (66%), and sleep quality (66%). Subgroup analysis by diagnosis type (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, or other autoimmune arthritis) found improvements among groups for physical function (P=0.013), favoring the osteoarthritis group. The overall cohort reported a 44% reduction in pain after CBD use (P<0.001). The osteoarthritis group had a greater percentage reduction (P=0.020) and point reduction (P<0.001) in pain compared to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune arthritis. The majority of respondents reported a reduction or cessation of other medications after CBD use (N=259, 60.5%): reductions in anti-inflammatories (N=129, 31.1%), acetaminophen (N=78, 18.2%), opioids (N=36, 8.6%) and discontinuation of anti-inflammatories (N=76, 17.8%), acetaminophen (N=76, 17.8%), and opioids (N=81, 18.9%).

Conclusion: Clinicians and patients should be aware of the various alternative therapeutic options available to treat their symptoms of arthritis, especially in light of the increased accessibility to cannabidiol products. The present study found associations between CBD use and improvements in patient’s arthritis symptoms and reductions in other medications. Future research should focus on exploring the benefits of CBD use in this patient population with clinical trials.”

“The present study, while exploratory in nature, suggests there may be therapeutic benefits to CBD use and highlights the need for research in a field where the science lags behind popular use.”

Distinctive Therapeutic Effects of Non-Euphorigenic Cannabis Extracts in Osteoarthritis

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image

“Introduction: Osteoarthritis (OA) is disabling and degenerative disease of the joints that is clinically characterized by pain and loss of function. With no disease-modifying treatment available, current therapies aim at pain management but are of limited efficacy. Cannabis products, specifically cannabinoids, are widely used to control pain and inflammation in many diseases with no scientific evidence demonstrating their efficacy in OA. 

Objective: We investigated the effects of non-euphorigenic cannabis extracts, CBD oil and cannabigerol oil (CBG oil), on pain and disease progression in OA mice. 

Methods and Results: Twelve-week-old male C57BL/6J mice received either sham or destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) surgery. DMM mice were treated with vehicle, CBD oil, or CBG oil. The gait of DMM mice was impaired as early as 2 weeks following surgery and continued deteriorating until week 8, which was restored by CBD oil and CBG oil treatments throughout the disease course. Mechanical allodynia developed in DMM mice, however, was not ameliorated by any of the treatments. On the other hand, both CBD oil and CBG oil ameliorated cold allodynia. In open field test, both oil treatments normalized changes in the locomotor activity of DMM mice. CBD oil and CBG oil treatments significantly reduced synovitis in DMM mice. Only CBG oil reduced cartilage degeneration, chondrocyte loss, and matrix metalloproteinase 13 expression, with a significant increase in the number of anabolic chondrocytes. Subchondral bone remodeling found in vehicle-treated DMM mice was not ameliorated by either CBD or CBG oil. 

Conclusions: Our results show evidence for the therapeutic efficacy of CBD oil and CBG oil, where both oils ameliorate pain and inflammation, and improve gait and locomotor activity in OA mice, representing clinical pain and function. Importantly, only CBG oil is chondroprotective, which may provide superior efficacy in future studies in OA patients.”

Cannabidiol: Influence on B Cells, Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell/Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblast Cocultures

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image

“Background: Cannabidiol (CBD), one major nonintoxicating phytocannabinoid from Cannabis sativa demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of several inflammatory conditions, including arthritis. However, it is still unknown which cell types mediate these anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, and, since CBD binds to a plethora of receptors and enzymes, it is complicated to pinpoint its mechanism of action. In this study, we elucidate the effects of CBD on B cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in respect to survival, calcium mobilization, drug uptake, and cytokine (IL-6, IL-10, and TNF) and immunoglobulin production. 

Methods: Modulation of intracellular calcium and drug uptake in B cells was determined by using the fluorescent dyes Cal-520 and PoPo3, respectively. Cytokine and immunoglobulin production was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. PBMC composition and B cell survival after CBD treatment was assessed by flow cytometry. 

Results: B cells express two major target receptors for CBD, TRPV2 (transient receptor potential vanilloid 2) and TRPA1 (transient receptor potential ankyrin 1), which are not regulated by B cell activation. CBD increased intracellular calcium levels in mouse and human B cells, which was accompanied by enhanced uptake of PoPo3. These effects were not dependent on transient receptor potential channel activation. CBD increased the number of early apoptotic B cells at the expense of viable cells and diminished interleukin (IL)-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production when activated T cell independently. In PBMCs, CBD increased IL-10 production when B cells were activated T cell dependent, while decreasing TNF levels when activated T cell independently. In PBMC/rheumatoid synovial fibroblast cocultures, CBD reduced IL-10 production when B cells were activated T cell independently. Immunoglobulin M production was augmented by CBD when B cells were activated with CpG. 

Conclusion: CBD is able to provide pro- and anti-inflammatory effects in isolated B cells and PBMCs. This is dependent on the activating stimulus (T cell dependent or independent) and concentration of CBD. Therefore, CBD might be used to dampen B cell activity in autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which B cells are activated by specific autoantigens.”

Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Properties of the Cannabis Terpene Myrcene in Rat Adjuvant Monoarthritis


“Cannabis-based terpenes are believed to modulate physiological responses to disease and alter the efficacy of cannabinoids in the so-called “entourage effect”. The monoterpene myrcene can reduce nociception produced by noxious thermal and mechanical stimuli as well as reducing acute inflammation.

The current study examined the role of myrcene and cannabidiol (CBD) in controlling chronic joint inflammation and pain.

Chronic arthritis was induced in male Wistar rats by intra-articular injection of Freund’s complete adjuvant into the right knee. On days 7 and 21 after arthritis induction, joint pain (von Frey hair algesiometry), inflammation (intravital microscopy, laser speckle contrast analysis) and joint histopathology were assessed.

Local application of myrcene (1 and 5 mg/kg s.c.) reduced joint pain and inflammation via a cannabinoid receptor mechanism. The combination of myrcene and CBD (200 μg) was not significantly different from myrcene alone. Repeated myrcene treatment had no effect on joint damage or inflammatory cytokine production.

These data suggest that topical myrcene has the potential to reduce chronic arthritis pain and inflammation; however, it has no synergistic effect with CBD.”

“In summary, myrcene was found to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in inflammatory joint disease by activating articular cannabinoid receptors. Together, these findings may explain why arthritis patients prefer Cannabis strains rich in myrcene to help manage their pain and inflammation.”

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Topical Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis

The Journal of Hand Surgery

“Purpose: Since the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, hand surgeons have increasingly encountered patients seeking counseling on over-the-counter, topical cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of pain. To this end, we designed a human clinical trial to investigate the therapeutic potential of CBD for the treatment of pain associated with thumb basal joint arthritis.

Methods: Following Food and Drug Administration and institutional approval, a phase 1 skin test was completed with 10 healthy participants monitored for 1 week after twice-daily application of 1 mL of topical CBD (6.2 mg/mL) with shea butter. After no adverse events were identified, we proceeded with a phase 2, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial. Eighteen participants with symptomatic thumb basal joint arthritis were randomized to 2 weeks of twice-daily treatment with CBD (6.2 mg/mL CBD with shea butter) or shea butter alone, followed by a 1-week washout period and then crossover for 2 weeks with the other treatment. Safety data and physical examination measurements were obtained at baseline and after completion of each treatment arm.

Results: Cannabidiol treatment resulted in improvements from baseline among patient-reported outcome measures, including Visual Analog Scale pain; Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand; and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores, compared to the control arm during the study period. There were similar physical parameters identified with range of motion, grip, and pinch strength.

Conclusions: In this single-center, randomized controlled trial, topical CBD treatment demonstrated significant improvements in thumb basal joint arthritis-related pain and disability without adverse events.”

Impact of Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts Alone and in Co-Culture with Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells


“δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of arthritis, but its mechanism of action and cellular targets are still unclear. The purpose of this study is to elucidate the effects of THC (0.1-25 µM) on synovial fibroblasts from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RASF) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy donors in respect to proliferation, calcium mobilization, drug uptake, cytokine and immunoglobulin production. Intracellular calcium and drug uptake were determined by fluorescent dyes Cal-520 and PoPo3, respectively. Cytokine and immunoglobulin production were evaluated by ELISA. Cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) were detected by flow cytometry. RASF express CB1 and CB2 and the latter was increased by tumor necrosis factor (TNF). In RASF, THC (≥5 µM) increased intracellular calcium levels/PoPo3 uptake in a TRPA1-dependent manner and reduced interleukin-8 (IL-8) and matrix metalloprotease 3 (MMP-3) production at high concentrations (25 µM). Proliferation was slightly enhanced at intermediate THC concentrations (1-10 µM) but was completely abrogated at 25 µM. In PBMC alone, THC decreased interleukin-10 (IL-10) production and increased immunoglobulin G (IgG). In PBMC/RASF co-culture, THC decreased TNF production when cells were stimulated with interferon-γ (IFN-γ) or CpG. THC provides pro- and anti-inflammatory effects in RASF and PBMC. This is dependent on the activating stimulus and concentration of THC. Therefore, THC might be used to treat inflammation in RA but it might need titrating to determine the effective concentration.”

Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidative, and Hepatoprotective Effects of Trans Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol/Sesame Oil on Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis in Rats


“Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful chronic autoimmune disease affecting the joints. Its first-line therapy, Methotrexate (MTX), although effective in ameliorating the progress of the disease, induces hepatotoxicity over long-term usage. Thus, seeking natural compounds with fewer side effects could be an alternative therapeutic approach. This study aimed to investigate the anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, and antioxidative effects of synthetic trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) dissolved in sesame oil (Dronabinol) against MTX in adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) rat model. Daily oral administration of Δ9-THC/sesame oil, over a period of 21 days, was well tolerated in arthritic rats with no particular psychoactive side effects. It markedly attenuated the severity of clinical manifestations, recovered the histopathological changes in tibiotarsal joints, and repressed the splenomegaly in arthritic rats. Δ9-THC/sesame oil therapy showed similar effects to MTX in neutralizing the inflammatory process of AIA, through attenuating erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) scores and proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels, to normal values. As opposed to MTX, this natural combination markedly protected the liver of arthritic rats and downregulated the induced oxidative stress by increasing the antioxidant defense system such as activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD) and levels of glutathione (GSH). These results suggest promising effects for the clinical use of Δ9-THC/sesame oil therapy in alleviating arthritic clinical signs as well as arthritis-induced liver injury.”

“Dronabinol (Δ9-THC in sesame oil) is usually used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy or weight loss and loss of appetite in AIDS patients, yet, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that proves the antiarthritic and antioxidative effects of this combination in an experimental model of RA with a hepatoprotective effect against arthritis-induced liver injury compared to commonly used antirheumatic drug (MTX).”