One of my favorite things to do in life is play basketball. I'm not the best at it, and definitely don't possess the genetics and talent that I wish I had in order to have pursued my dreams as a basketball player growing up, but it's something that I've always enjoyed. It was the only form of exercise that I could do that came naturally. Running around a track gets boring. Trying to make it rain at noon ball open gym was always much funner.
I have played in a lot of city basketball leagues, and play in a basketball tournament every summer, and have for over a decade. It's something that I look forward to every summer, and I've actually over achieved at the tournament quite a bit. But after this last summer, I noticed that there was something wrong with my foot. I went to the doctor, and it turned out that I have osteoarthritis in my foot, including cartilage breakdown. I went from knowing nothing about a metatarsophalangeal joint to knowing quite a bit more in just a handful of months. It's something that will never fully go away for the rest of my life, which is something that I'm still learning to deal with.
There are various ways to treat it, almost all of which involve pain meds that I don't want to take. One treatment is to get steroid shots into the joint. Um, no thanks. Instead, I use various forms of cannabis, especially topical rubs. A good topical rub will do wonders to make my foot feel better. Ingesting cannabis helps the pain too, which is particularly hardcore some days. A recent study found that the use of synthetic cannabinoids reduced cartilage breakdown related to osteoarthritis. Per the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:
A central feature of osteoarthritis (OA) is the loss of articular cartilage, which is primarily attributed to cartilage breakdown. A group of metalloproteinases termed the A disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS) family are reported to be important in cartilage breakdown. Recent studies have suggested that ADAMTS‑4 is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of OA and that syndecan‑1 is closely associated with activation of ADAMTS‑4 in human chondrocytes. Accumulating evidence also suggests that cannabinoids have chondroprotective effects. The current study explored the effects of synthetic cannabinoid WIN‑55,212‑2 mesylate (WIN‑55) on the expression of syndecan‑1 and ADAMTS‑4, as well as ADAMTS‑4 activity, in unstimulated and interleukin (IL)‑1β‑stimulated OA chondrocytes. Primary human OA articular chondrocytes were treated with WIN‑55 in the presence or absence of IL‑1β and cannabinoid receptor antagonists. The results of the present study demonstrated that WIN‑55 inhibited ADAMTS‑4 activity in unstimulated and IL‑1β‑stimulated primary human OA articular chondrocytes in a concentration‑dependent manner. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and 2 (CB2) were constitutively expressed in human OA articular chondrocytes. Furthermore, selective CB2 antagonist, JTE907, but not selective CB1 antagonist, MJ15, abolished the inhibitory effect of WIN‑55 on ADAMTS‑4 activity. WIN55 inhibited the expression of syndecan‑1 but not ADAMTS‑4, and overexpression of syndecan‑1 reversed the inhibitory effect of WIN‑55 on the ADAMTS‑4 activity in unstimulated and IL‑1β‑stimulated human OA articular chondrocytes. Despite having no significant effect on syndecan‑1 gene promoter activity, WIN‑55 markedly decreased the stability of syndecan‑1 mRNA via CB2. In conclusion, to the best of our knowledge, the present study provides the first in vitro evidence supporting that the synthetic cannabinoid WIN‑55 inhibits ADAMTS‑4 activity in unstimulated and IL‑1β‑stimulated human OA articular chondrocytes by decreasing the mRNA stability/expression of syndecan‑1 via CB2. This suggests a novel mechanism by which cannabinoids may prevent cartilage breakdown in OA. In addition, it also provides novel insights into the pharmacological effects of synthetic cannabinoids on OA.
Obviously, there is a lot of acronyms and scientific language involved. I bolded the conclusion for those that just wanted the summary. This study involved synthetic cannabinoids. I would love to see a study measuring how much better full plant extracts would work compared to the synthetic cannabinoids. Either way, this is encouraging for those of us that suffer from OA. If you know someone that suffers from OA, I encourage you to urge them to use topicals. Not all of them are created equal, but when you find one that works, trust me, it works very well.