ARKANSAS, USA — Patients of all kinds swear by the benefits of CBD oil, a derivative of the cannabis plant that also gives us marijuana. With many of those patients suffering from arthritis, the leading advocacy group for arthritis patients is closer to swearing by it as well.

The Arthritis Foundation announced guidance for adults for using the products, despite the legal limbo that surrounds CBD, since it's technically illegal under federal law and can't be tested by the FDA.

"We hope that there is more research done with it because there are a lot of unanswered questions out there," said John Mark Morgan, a salesperson at Healing Hemp of Arkansas, a CBD shop in Little Rock. 

While patients have been waiting for medical advice, they have tried to get those questions answered at shops like the one where Morgan works. The moves by the Arthritis Foundation are a sign they want to provide insight as well.

"They've been on pain meds. They've been on arthritis meds and it's either the side effects are terrible for them or they're looking for an alternative to what they've been using," Morgan said. "For an organization to come out like that, we think it's another step forward in this becoming a product that's being used to help patients."

But they are baby steps of progress for now. 

Here's what the foundation advises. If you try it, start with a low dose. Use only CBD products. Don't mix them with THC--the stuff that gets you high in marijuana. Use it only at night to get started. All in all, ease into it because everybody is different.

"We recommend that you do start out low," said Morgan. "After two of three days, if you're not seeing the results then you can increase your dose."

And most importantly, talk with your doctor. While the clinical research on CBD is scarce, there is evidence it can mess with prescribed arthritis medications.

"We're seeing more physicians even here in the state of Arkansas that are recommending CBD products for their patients," Morgan said. "Maybe that will be the kind of thing that leads the FDA to set some sort of guidelines."

Patients get a lot of their information on CBD from peer groups, and the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation says they are starting these patient communities here in central Arkansas.

“Here in Arkansas and across the country, the Arthritis Foundation has started peer-led, community support groups called Live Yes! Connect Groups," said Angela Harris, Executive Director, Arthritis Foundation in Arkansas. "People with arthritis in the community come together at our Connect Groups and often exchange tips and experiences, which can include alternative therapies to help with pain.”

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