Cannabis could relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain

Researchers said yesterday that the latest study to examine its effect in rheumatoid arthritis found it significantly reduced pain and suppressed the disease. The finding raises hopes for 600,000 sufferers in the UK.

Doctors at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath gave the cannabis-based medicine Sativex to 31 randomly selected patients with rheumatoid arthritis and compared them with a similar number of controls. Those given the active drug had significant improvements in pain relief, quality of sleep and reducing inflammation of the joints.

The findings are published online today in the journal Rheumatology. Ronald Jubb, one of the researchers, said: "While the [improvements] are small and variable across the patient group, they represent benefits of clinical relevance and indicate the need for more detailed investigations through larger trials".

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