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QUESTION: I’m 78 years old, and I have shoulder arthritis that causes peripheral neuropathy in my hands (pins and needles), making it very difficult to sleep.  I wear a hand brace which doesn’t help much and take Tylenol every night which gives me gut issues.  How can I use cannabis for pain relief? How much CBD oil should I take to help alleviate this distress?  My doctor hasn’t been any help.

Elderly woman experiencing arthritis pain in shoulder
Many seniors, like the woman pictured, struggle with debilitating arthritis pain. Discover how cannabis can provide relief.

How Cannabis Works in your body

Cannabis is an herbal medicine and is unique to each consumer. And like most natural medicines, can be difficult for doctors to give advice about, because of the way the plant naturally works with the body. Each of our bodies is equipped with an Endocannabinoid System, which is a series of receptors that interact with certain kinds of molecules. Some of these molecules are naturally occurring in our bodies and some come from the cannabis plant. The role of the Endocannabinoid System (or ECS) is to maintain balance in our body, which can mean very different things for different people. Because of this, cannabis is different for every consumer, and it’s difficult to precisely predict exactly how it will affect an individual.

Endocannabinoid system graphic, cannabis products, and potential outcomes illustration
Your choices matter: The interplay of your unique Endocannabinoid system, the cannabis products you consume, and the resulting outcomes.

Combining THC and CBD for Arthritis Pain

Those who use cannabis for arthritis often find that a combination of treatments works best to fight pain and inflammation. People who suffer from arthritis pain and want to treat it with cannabis often need a combination of THC and CBD to best find pain relief, since each cannabinoid works with the body in a different way. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory, working to reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis, while THC relieves the pain that’s a symptom of this inflammation.

Combining them can also help you with sleep, which can be a problem if you’re being kept awake at night from the pain, and using edibles is a classic way for Seniors to treat pain, inflammation, and sleep disturbances.

Introducing Cannabis Topicals for Arthritis

THC and CBD oils aren’t the only tools you can use in fighting arthritis symptoms: cannabis topicals are another great way to specifically target pain and inflammation. A topical, such as a cream or salve that contains cannabinoids, can be put directly on the body parts that are in pain, delivering relief straight to those tissues. Because the cannabinoid receptors in your skin are different that the ones in your brain, you won’t get high from using a topical. This makes it a nice option for anyone concerned about getting high or feeling intoxicated.

Cannabis topical balm in a round tin with a cannabis leaf
Harness the power of nature. Apply this cannabis balm directly to areas of pain, providing localized relief.

Finding your Ideal Dose

It’s important to give yourself the time to find your ideal dose, and it’s important to start with a low dose so that you can understand how your body reacts to cannabis. Someone who has never consumed cannabis is going to have a different tolerance to cannabis products than someone who is a frequent consumer, so it’s important to start with low doses, increase them slowly, and listen your body throughout the whole process.

If you’re trying out THC oil, start with 2 mg and increase the dose by 1 mg to 2 mg per use until you achieve pain relief, or the intoxicating effects become too strong. It’s a good idea to experiment with your THC dosage on a day when you don’t have to work or drive, so that you are free to feel the full effects of your dose, and don’t have to worry about accidentally consuming too much.

You can start CBD oil at a dose of 5 mg, and increase it by 5 mg per use. Cannabis oil can upset sensitive stomachs, so be aware of that as you’re finding your optimal dose. It’s always best to listen to your body. Everyone’s experience with cannabis is unique to them, and it’s vital to honor your own journey.

Want to learn more about how cannabis can treat arthritis and other types of pain? Enroll in our online course “The 5 Dimensions of a Cannabis Experience” to learn more about using cannabis intentionally in many aspects of your life, including for pain relief.