How This Patient Is Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis with Cannabis

September 06, 2017 | SimoneFischer

Patient profile: Stephanie Malott


Stephanie Malott was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when she was twelve years old. Malott was immediately put on a number of medications, which routinely caused severe adverse reactions.  She was on things like Prednisone because doctors use steroids to calm inflammation and reduce pain.

Malott took Methotrexate (a chemotherapy agent) for fifteen years until she became poisoned by the drug. Her eyes and skin turned yellow, and the vomiting and abdominal pain became very severe.

“I used Methotrexate throughout my college years, but finally my body couldn’t take it anymore. I called my doctor and explained what was happening and stopped my use immediately. I’ve dealt with adverse reactions from all forms of treatment, except Cannabis. With Cannabis, I’ve never had bad reactions or side effects.” Malott said.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an incredibly painful autoimmune disease - which means it doesn’t go away. Treatment remains constant and working to reduce inflammation is vital to quality of life. I asked Malott how she uses Cannabis to treat RA daily.

“Unfortunately, I deal with polyarticular rheumatoid arthritis which means the smallest, tiniest joints down to my fingertips and toes have RA,” she said.

“Every joint in my body has RA. If I don’t use Cannabis, I have a difficult time walking. I use CBD patches daily to regulate inflammation. I also vape flower and use THC tinctures to reduce pain and back spasms, depending on how I feel.” Malott explains.

Malott grows for herself because as a serious OMMP patient, the retail cost of buying the amount of medicine she needs is steep. The Oregon medical program allows patients to grow for themselves to reduce costs. Health insurance covers nothing related to Cannabis.


“I started growing my own because I couldn’t afford to buy it. If you think about how much a diagnosed patient needs, it’s super expensive. I am conservative with my use because I work and have children. I use Cannabis so I can function. I keep my doses low so it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life.”

Malott stresses OMMP patients to research Cannabis farms before making dispensary purchases. If you are not able to grow your own medicine, find farms that specialize in consumer-healthy cultivation techniques (like living soil).  Chances are, they have experience growing medicinal Cannabis.

“Know your farmers! If you need flower and you have an autoimmune disease, heavy metals from synthetic nutrients will affect your body. That’s why I work with living soil - not bottled nutrients.”

Malott  never took it seriously as a treatment option until 2013, though she has smoked for 20 years.

I always noticed I felt better, but I didn’t understand the science behind it. It wasn’t until about four years ago, I started researching on Pub Med and I found a few different articles on dosing. When I learned Cannabis was a natural TMF inhibitor, and took it to my doctor and they were supportive. I refused to get my card for many years because I was afraid of losing my job. Four years ago I started discovering what doses work for me.

I get through my day with a CBD patch. Around 7PM I vape flower and take an edible around 9PM. I make my own 5mg sugar and gluten free edibles to help my body relax when I am lying down, so I can get comfortable before bed. You don’t need much to find relief in my experience.” Malott said.

For people dealing with RA, Malott suggests starting with a high CBD or one-to-one (THC/CBD) patch if you are nervous about smoking.  She advised trying the Synergy Skin Works Patches, available from a variety of local dispensaries.

“I would highly recommend people give the transdermal patches a chance. I know they are expensive, but cut them in half to make it last longer to start. Transdermals are discreet, nobody sees it and nothing is going through your stomach - so it won’t irritate the GI tract. The dosing is a slow release and they don’t overwhelm. High CBD controls my inflammation. With RA, the more inflammation, the more pain I deal with.”

Dealing with RA is a constant, painful battle and Malott believes reducing inflammation is key to extended relief. Malott makes her own coconut oil Cannabis salve she uses on her hands and feet for relief during busy days. She also recommends using a PAX vaporizer or volcano, because it isn’t as harsh. Plus, you get a better taste as well.

“I look for terpenes. I search for flowers high in pinene to help combat inflammation like Super Silver Haze. I also grow Valentine X and Critical Cure 1-1 to help with inflammation. More research is needed because what helps me is different than what helps my other friends with RA. You never know what might help because we can’t go to the doctor for answers.” Malott explains.

Cannabis has helped improve the quality of Malott’s life by allowing her to actively participate without the constant cloud of pain. Malott says more research will help figure out the most effective way to treat her RA.

“If I take a little bit of CBD tincture and vape CBD flower, I can play Legos with my kids like nothing is wrong. With RA, you have to adapt to everything. Even just buttoning shirts or tying shoes can be difficult. Cannabis is a life changer and a lifesaver. I go to the doctor once a year to get blood work done, rather than every 3 months. I am healthier and my mood is better so I can participate with everybody else. When you are dealing with an illness you can feel cast out, but with cannabis I can function.”

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