Medicinal cannabis has been implicated in the treatment of many conditions, but can cannabis really treat Dupuytren’s contracture? This relatively common condition affects 1 in 20 people in the US and has a greater prevalence in people of European descent. Recent research has shown that cannabis offers a series of benefits for people suffering from this condition. If you or your loved on suffers from Dupuytren’s this article will show you how you can benefit from cannabis.
What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture?
Dupuytren’s contracture, or Dupuytren’s disease is a connective tissue disorder that mostly affects the ring finger and makes it impossible to straighten the fingers. This influences one’s quality of life significantly and makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks. It can involve multiple fingers on one hand or both hands. It affects both men and women equally, but when it affects men it is more severe.
Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture
The first symptoms are usually lumps or ridges on the palms that develop gradually over a couple of years. Other symptoms that develop over time include inflammation, tenderness, itching, and loss of function. Collagen cords that cause permanent deformity are also frequent after a couple of years. This also increases one’s likelihood of developing Peyronie’s disease.
What Are the Causes of Dupuytren’s Contracture?
The cause of this syndrome is idiopathic, though genetic factors and oxidative stress have been implicated. Risk factors include the following:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Tobacco smoking
- Liver disease
- Chronic inflammation
- Hand injuries
Oxidative stress triggers the accumulation of reactive oxygen species which could cause connective tissue cells to behave abnormally. Collagen offers strength and flexibility to connective tissues in the fingers. However, when cells in the connective tissues multiply abnormally contractures may occur.
How is Dupuytren’s Contractures Treated?
Traditionally, this condition is rectified through corrective surgery. However, the possibility of recurrence after surgery is high. A drug called Xiaflex was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of collagen cords that cause deformities in Dupuytren’s. Unfortunately the rate if recurrence after this form of treatment is still high.
Does Cannabis Treat Dupuytren’s Contracture?
There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis can cure this condition. However, patients may get significant relief from pressing symptoms through the use of cannabis.
Chronic inflammation is an underlying factor in this condition. The endocannabinoid system influences the immune system through a network of receptors on immune cells. Cannabis derived cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory properties that they exert through their interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Several studies have been done to investigate the anti-inflammatory properties of THC and CBD which is also effective in pain management.
Phytocannabinoids such as CBD and THC as well as terpenes have antioxidant properties. This could help in slowing down the progression of the condition.
Here is what research has to say about this.
So far, no studies have been conducted to investigate the effectiveness of cannabis in treating this condition. However, dozens of studies have been conducted in related areas that can shed some light.
In 2012, a study that was published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseasesinvestigated the effects of a THC look-alike molecule in regulating collagen production. The researchers found that this compounds (ajulemic acid) regulates collagen production and hence could be useful in addressing Dupuytren’s collagen cords. In 2016, a subsequent research that was published in the British Journal of Pharmacologyshowed that phytocannabinoids can produce a similar effect. This includes compounds such as THC, CBD, CBC, & CBG. If cannabis derived phytocannabinoids can reduce collagen production they may be of use in treating Dupuytren’s contracture.
How to Use Cannabis for Dupuytren’s Contracture
There are many different ways of using cannabis for Dupuytren’s contracture. Smoking cannabis flower is one of the ways but may not be the best because of the respiratory risks that are linked to smoking. Alternative methods include consuming tinctures sublingually, oral capsules, edibles, and topical methods. Cannabis topical creams and ointments can be applied directly to the affected areas to relieve pain and inflammation.
When purchasing a cannabis product to use for Dupuytren’s make sure that you scrutinize the label to find the exact amount of cannabinoids it contains. Also consider whether the product is full-spectrum which means that it contains additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These compounds boost the healing power of the product through a mechanism known as the entourage effect. Lastly, ensure that you consult with your healthcare provider before you start on any cannabis treatment. They will assess your condition and advice on whether you will benefit from cannabis.
From the above information it is evident that further research is needed to give clearer direction on the use of cannabis to treat this condition. Given that it is a lifelong ailment, patients would benefit from having a natural treatment option such as cannabis that can offer long lasting benefits without causing severe side effects.