CBD Oil for Diabetic Neuropathy: What Scientific Research Shows
Diabetic neuropathy is a form of neuropathic pain. It results from damage done to nerves due to chronically elevated blood glucose levels. Consistently high blood glucose levels are also related to a weakening of the walls of small blood vessels. This weakening can compromise the vessel’s ability to deliver oxygen, sugar, and other vital nutrients to nerve cells.
When compromised in this manner, nerves cease to communicate with the central nervous system in a normal way. As such, people suffering from diabetic neuropathy can experience sharp shooting pains, dull numbing pains, or even complete numbness.
In this article, we discuss some of the common causes of diabetic neuropathy. We will also look at the populations that are most at risk. Finally, we’ll explore what (if any) potential benefits CBD oil has to offer in terms of helping with this condition.
The Four Most Common Types of Neuropathic Pain Associated with Diabetic Neuropathy
The following are four common types of pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. However, patients may suffer from more than one type.
This is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. It primarily affects the lower extremities (legs and feet). In later stages, however, it can affect the arms and hands as well. Symptoms can include sharp or dull pains, numbness, tingling sensations, and loss of muscle strength in the afflicted areas.
This is nerve damage that occurs in organ systems such as the heart, stomach, intestines, reproductive systems, and eyes. Naturally, nerve damage in any of these areas can cause severe side effects. These include:
- Increased heart rate
- Erratic blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Inability to control bladder and/or bowel movements
- Difficulty swallowing
- An inability to regulate body temperature
This form of neuropathy is most common in people with Type II diabetes. It affects nerves in the thighs, hips, legs, and buttocks (typically on just one side of the body). Symptoms include atrophy of the leg and thigh muscles, abdominal swelling, and unexpected weight loss.
This is damage to a single nerve. This most commonly occurs in the foot, lower leg, chest/abdomen, and face, and causes extreme and sudden pain.
Risk Factors Associated with the Onset of Diabetic Neuropathy
Research has shown that all of the following may increase the likelihood of developing diabetes-induced nerve damage:
- Smoking:Smoking is known to cause arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which reduces blood flow to the legs and feet.
- Inadequate maintenance/control of blood sugar levels
- The length and severity of a patient’s condition: The longer a patient has had diabetes, the more likely they are to develop some form of diabetic neuropathy.
- Elevated Body Mass Index (BMI)
CBD Oil for Diabetic Neuropathy: What We Know from the Scientific Research
To date, no clinical trials have been conducted on the effects of CBD oil for diabetic neuropathy. Therefore, we can’t make any definitive conclusions about how useful CBD or other cannabis compounds are for treating diabetic neuropathy. The evidence so far mainly stems from speculative research carried out on animal models and/or cultured nerve cells.
That said, the roles of CBD as a neuroprotectant and an analgesic (pain reliever) are well known and well-documented. In fact, the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabinoids for their “application as neuroprotectants … for example, in limiting neurological damage [or] in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.” The patent identifies cannabidiol specifically, as it is “particularly advantageous to use because [it avoids] toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses…”
For these reasons, some speculate that high-grade CBD oil may protect nerve cells from diabetes-induced neuropathy. Others even suggest that CBD could reverse neuropathic damage that has already begun.
Of course, this is only speculation at present; advanced research and data would need to be collected to confirm or deny the assumption. Let’s take a look at a few of the most relevant studies carried out to date.
Relevant CBD Studies
The following cannabinoid and CBD-based studies are relevant to the topic of diabetes-related neuropathic pain. Remember, however, that there is a difference between initial research and advanced clinical trials.
2012 publication in the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests CBD suppresses inflammatory and neuropathy-induced pain
This study primarily observed the effects of CBD on nociceptive (pain) regulation in rat nerve cells. The researchers found that the active compound acted as an analgesic (pain reliever) for neuropathy-related pain.
Here is a statement released by the lead researchers:
“We report that systemic and intrathecal [spinal cord] administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychoactive component of marijuana, and its modified derivatives significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing apparent analgesic tolerance in rodents.”
Based on this statement, it appears that CBD significantly reduces neuropathy-related pain without establishing any serious form of tolerance to the active compound. Drug tolerance is one of the main problems in other neuropathy pain relievers like prescription opioids.
2008 study in Phytotherapy Research shows analgesic effects of Cannabis sativa extract on neuropathic pain in rodent models
This study aimed to identify some of the chemical/physiological mechanisms involved in the cannabinoid-based management of neuropathic pain. The study involved testing of a “rat model of neuropathic pain.”
Researchers found that cannabis extracts provided “better antinociceptive (pain-relieving) efficacy than [a] single cannabinoid given alone.” Therefore, the study demonstrated that the cannabis extract, which contained “multiple cannabinoids,” was more effective than a single cannabinoid.
While the study verified that active cannabinoids are an effective means of addressing neuropathy-related pain, whole-plant extracts are better. Whole-plant extracts include CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, and other natural cannabis compounds. Together, they are more effective than CBD by itself. This has been verified in other studies as well. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
Research on the Therapeutic Value of CBD and its Role in Pain Management
A 2006 study in Current Neuropharmacology suggests that cannabinoid receptors have therapeutic value against neuropathic pain. The study offered a review of existing research on cannabis extracts (including THC and CBD) and their role in treating both acute and chronic pain (including neuropathic pain).
The authors of the study concluded that “cannabinoid receptor agonists have shown therapeutic value against inflammatory and neuropathic pains.” Researchers also noted that these agonists are “often refractory [unresponsive] to therapy.”
Furthermore, the study acknowledged that advanced, “double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials,” were needed to develop a clearer understanding of how exactly the physiological pathway works.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Neuropathic Pain
As we already mentioned, there have not yet been any specific clinical trials carried out on CBD for diabetic neuropathy. There are studies suggesting that CBD can act as a neuroprotectant, and also aid in neuropathy-related pain management. However, FDA-approval and advanced clinical trials would be needed before any definitive claims can be made.
So, will CBD oil work for diabetic neuropathy, and can it help in the day-to-day management of nerve-related pain? While there is no direct clinical evidence on the matter, it is difficult to ignore the fact that CBD is a known neuroprotectant, meaning it can prevent the damage and degeneration of nerve cells. Research also suggests that CBD has nerve-related analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
For those considering CBD oil for diabetic neuropathy, it’s essential to discuss this with a doctor or medical professional.
Readers may find the following review helpful for more information regarding the use of CBD oil for pain relief. It focuses on the 10 best CBD oils on the market and includes high-quality CBD oil from several reliable brands.
Cannabidiol (CBD) & Diabetic Foot Pain
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) levels can injure nerves throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet, a condition known as peripheral neuropathy, also known as diabetic foot pain.
Symptoms cover a wide spectrum, ranging from pain and numbness in your legs and feet to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
The two types of diabetes differ in their origin and treatment, but they present the same problem, too much glucose is circulating in the blood. With type 1, the body produces little or no insulin, while with type 2, the body’s cells no longer respond to insulin. The vast majority (about 95%) of diabetes cases are type 2, and one of the results of excessive glucose is inflammation and pain.
Treatment with CBD oil
One innovative approach for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy is the use of CBD oil. CBD is short for Cannabidiol, a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The other major compound in the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the element that produces the “high” you think of when you hear cannabis. CBD, however, has no such psychoactive properties.
To date, research on the use of CBD oil in the treatment of diabetes-related issues has been quite limited, but preliminary studies indicate it may help with inflammation and pain.
The bottom line
At present, the best prevention for diabetic nerve pain is to carefully manage your type 1 or type 2 diabetes under the watchful eye of your physician and to talk to our podiatrists at Alpine Foot Specialists.
Type 2 diabetes: Cannabis oil could help with pain and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
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A legal cannabis oil, rubbed onto the skin at the point of pain, may relieve a nerve condition that affects one in 10 people aged over 55 in the UK, according to scientists. A breakthrough trial found cannabidiol (CBD) – which is sold in high street health food shops and online as a lifestyle supplement – reduced not only pain caused by peripheral neuropathy but also other symptoms.
What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves), often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in your hands and feet, said the Mayo Clinic.
It continued: “Your peripheral nervous system sends information from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body.
“The peripheral nerves also send sensory information to the central nervous system.
“Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes and exposure to toxins and one of the most common causes is type 2 diabetes.”
Type 2 diabetes: An oil to reduce risk of peripheral neuropathy caused by condition (Image: Getty Images)
Researchers claim the oil may be a better alternative than NHS-prescribed treatments commonly given to sufferers of the condition.
Peripheral Neuropathy affects mainly the feet, arms and hands and is caused when nerves become damaged. There is not always an effective treatment for this condition.
Sufferers may also endure burning, stabbing or shooting pain and muscle weakness, sometimes for prolonged periods.
The trial, led by researchers at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California, also found no negative side effects from the application of CBD.
The results have been welcomed by Layton Brooks, co-founder of CBD Sho py, a leading online marketplace for high quality CBD products from topical creams to chewable gummies.
He hopes the study – published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, a journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists – will encourage people to try a more holistic approach.
“We often hear first-hand of people who use CBD products in different forms to ease various ailments,” he said.
“This trial could offer hope to sufferers of Peripheral Neuropathy who may be searching for an alternative natural remedy.”
The US research team recruited 29 people with Peripheral Neuropathy, 15 of whom were treated with a product containing 250mg CBD in 3fl oz, and 14 trialists were given a placebo.
Sixty-two p erc ent of the group were men, and the mean age of all participants was 68.
To test an improvement in symptoms, a pain test was administered every two weeks to assess the mean change from baseline to the end of the treatment.
Type 2 diabetes: Cannabis oil reduces pain and risk of peripheral neuropathy (Image: Getty Images)
Lead researcher Dixon Hu said: “Peripheral Neuropathy can significantly impact the quality of life for those who are affected, as therapies from the current treatment algorithm often fail to deliver adequate symptom relief.
“There has, however, been an increasing body of evidence for the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic, noncancer pain.
“There was a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations in the CBD group when compared to the placebo group. No adverse events were reported in this study.
“Our findings demonstrate that the transdermal application of CBD oil can achieve significant improvement in pain and other disturbing sensations in patients with peripheral neuropathy.
“The treatment product was well tolerated and may provide a more effective alternative compared to other current therapies in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy.”
In the UK, CBD oil is legal if it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain which contains no more than 0.2 percent THC.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is another cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant but, unlike CBD, can have psychoactive tendencies
The peripheral nervous system is the network that lies outside the central nervous system.
It includes sensory nerves which transmit sensations such as pain and touch, and motor nerves which control muscles.
The system also has autonomic nerves which regulate functions such as blood pressure and bladder function.
According to the NHS, diabetes can cause Peripheral Neuropathy due to high blood sugar levels damaging nerves.
But it can also be caused by a viral infection, such as shingles, physical injury to the nerves – and even as a side effect of some medicines or from too much alcohol.