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Reviewing the evidence around using medicinal cannabis for arthritis

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Peer-reviewed: This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

Literature review: This type of work involves summarising the literature that has previously been published on a topic.

Researchers at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand have performed a literature review to examine whether cannabis-based products might be helpful in the management of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Their findings suggest there is some molecular evidence of an association between the human endocannabinoid system and arthritis, and that mouse models of arthritis may be influenced by the direct administration of trial products into the joint or the spine. However, only two human trials have been conducted, one of which was terminated early, as the product performed no better than an anti-inflammatory treatment. The other trial lasted only five weeks, but showed some reduction in pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients. The authors conclude there's little evidence to support GPs prescribing cannabis-based products for arthritis management at this time.

Journal/conference: New Zealand Medical Journal

Organisation/s: Medical Research Institute of New Zealand

Funder: Prof Michelle Glass and Drs Karen Oldfield, Alex Semprini and Irene Braithwaite are members of the Medical Cannabis Research Collaborative, an impartial collaboration of academics and regulatory experts in the field of cannabis-based medicine development. The Medical Research Institute of New Zealand has undertaken research activity Helius Therapuetics, Hikurangi Enterprises and Whakaora Pharma, all of which are New Zealandbased medicinal cannabis companies. There are no other conflicts of interest to declare. The Medical Research Institute receives Independent Research Organisation funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

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