How can I use cannabis to help out with my rheumatoid arthritis?


Dear Nurse Jessica,

I have aches and pains from my diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis and I’ve been hearing a lot about medicinal marijuana lately. I don’t want to keep taking my prescribed pills, and although I don’t like the thought of getting high, I long for relief from my joint pain and a good night’s sleep. Smoking up is not appealing to me because of the smell, and I’m worried about my neighbors. I smoked grass a few times about 40 years ago and had nothing but positive experiences with it. Any suggestions?


Grandma Looking for Answers


Oh, mystery Grandma, I’m glad to hear you were toking 40 years ago. It warms my heart. First and foremost, transitioning from any pharmaceutical should be monitored and discussed thoroughly with a doctor. The good news is, you don’t have to get high to get joint relief with medicinal cannabis.

Cannabis without the high can be found in strains with less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and higher CBD (cannabidiol) ratios. It is the CBD’s non-psychoactive component of cannabis that provides you with your physiological relief. Some strains commonly used for arthritis include Sensi Star, Pennywise and White Lavender.

If smoking joints isn’t in the cards for you, you can always use a vaporizer for quick relief and your neighbors won’t smell a thing. An infused cream or salve is also a nice topical option to massage into your hands. If you don’t have access to pre-made lotions, you can make one yourself. Cannabis-infused coconut oil is an easy way to get the most out of your dried cannabis and provide you with some intake diversity. To make cannabis-infused coconut oil:

  1. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  2. Bust up your dried cannabis and spread it out on the tray.

Bake in your oven at 220°F for 20 minutes.

  1. Grab your slow cooker and put in one cup of cannabis to two cups of coconut oil. Leave it on low and slow cook for 4-6 hours.
  2. After the oil has been infused, strain it and discard the cannabis in the compost.

A jar of cannabis-infused medicine will go a long way. For example, if you pour it into ice cube trays, you can run the frozen cubes over hot or inflamed areas like the back of your neck, your feet, your hands or any area that is causing you discomfort. This oil can also be used to make raw chocolate or healthy edibles if you’re feeling inspired. The most important rule of thumb, Grandma, is low and slow. Try a small amount, wait 30 minutes or so, and check in with yourself. A little is a lot, and impatience can be your worst enemy with edibles, so take little bites and savor. Keep a water bottle with you as well—hydration and cannabis go hand in hand.

I hope this response has answered your questions, and I wish you all the best on your cannabis journey.

Nurse Jessica

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Written by Jessica Ferneyhough
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Jessica Ferneyhough, a registered practical nurse, brings a unique approach to care, empowering patients as a medicinal cannabis nurse and horses for healing advocate.

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