THC as a Treatment Option for Neuropathy
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. It produces the “high” associated with cannabis. However, THC also has several medicinal purposes, including the treatment of neuropathy.
Pain relief is the main benefit of THC as a neuropathy treatment. Studies show that individuals with neuropathic pain experience pain reduction while undergoing THC therapy. Pain intensity decreases with long-term use.
Other benefits that individuals with neuropathy may experience with THC therapy include improved sleep, positive changes in mood, and improved quality of life. THC has been shown to have an antidepressant-like effect due to changes it creates in parts of the brain associated with mood and pain memory. The combination of pain relief and reduced depression can improve overall quality of life. Another benefit of THC is that it may reduce the amount or frequency of opioid medications needed for pain relief. It also tends to have few side effects.
When other treatments are not well tolerated or additional pain relief is needed, THC therapy may be a viable treatment option for neuropathic pain. Consulting a health care professional before beginning any new treatment is advised.
CBD for Neuropathy (Nerve Pain)
Samantha of Los Angeles, CA is experiencing horrid neuropathic (nerve) pain. After a lot of trial and error, she’s landed on a prescription drug that helps for the most part, but she’s in search of greater pain relief. And, wants to know if CBD oil could help.
I’ve had Diabetes for a while now. And because of it, I’m experiencing some really horrid pain in my legs and feet.
The pain just creeped up on me out of nowhere. At first, I was having pain here and there and didn’t make much of it, but now, it’s turned into a nuisance that won’t leave me alone, night or day. It’s relentless.
During the day, much of what I feel is numbness, but during the course of the day the numbness turns into a feeling of pins and needles prickling my legs and feet. Then, there are other times when I feel like my legs and feet are on fire.
The pain won’t let me sleep either. I wake up in the middle of the night with this feeling of electricity shooting down my legs. It’s painful to even have socks on.
It took a lot of trial and error to find a medication that helped. I have to tell you though the that process drove me nuts. After trying, Oxycodone, Tramadol, Nortriptyline, and Lyrica, we finally settled on Gabapentin.
The Gabapentin takes the edge off. Every once in awhile, it allows me to have a good day. On these days, I can remember what my life was like when I didn’t have pain. Although I have to say that most days are bad days.
I’m still searching for a solution which can help me turn most of my bad days into good days. I’ve been putting my life on hold because this pain. It gets in the way of doing the things that make me happy. I just want to be able to play golf again.
Have you found that CBD Oil helps patients with neuropathy?
Los Angeles, CA
Samantha, so in your particular case you know that your Neuropathy stems from Diabetes, but in general, it’s important to know that there are many different causes of Neuropathy.
Some of the more common causes of Neuropathy include
- nerve compression (sciatica, for example)
- multiple sclerosis
- surgical damage
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- lyme disease
- complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- poor circulation
I’ve also treated cases of Idiopathic Neuropathy, which is when the cause of the Neuropathy is not known.
CBD for neuropathy in general has helped my patients to relieve the pain associated with their neuropathy – whether the CBD comes from marijuana or from hemp. Most usually when you hear the words “CBD oil,” the CBD is generally derived from hemp. Either way, whether the CBD comes from marijuana or from hemp, your body recognizes the CBD as the same. Of course, with the hemp-based CBD, you don’t have to worry about the high because the amount of THC in Hemp is less than 0.3%. And, with a marijuana-based CBD product you have to look closely at either the packaging or lab test result to figure out just how much more CBD there is relative to the THC.
I’ll dive into into the research on CBD and Neuropathy. And then I’ll go over the results my own patients have experienced with use the CBD.
CBD for Neuropathy: The Research
One group of researchers pooled together data from 5 different studies on the impact of CBD on neuropathic pain in 41 patients.
And, they found that while on average placebo reduced pain by .8 points, CBD on average decreased pain by 1.5 points, so CBD was twice as effective as placebo. It’s important to note that in most of these studies patients in the placebo group were allowed to receive rescue drugs for pain and were allowed to increase the doses of these pain drugs.
In addition, the pain relief from CBD was retained over time, on average for at least the 6 to 10 week follow-up period.
Why does CBD relieve Nerve Pain?
Believe it or not, we have systems in our body to manage pain. They’re called pain pathways.
More specifically, you can think of the whole system as an army. And, just like the army has a system of communication so does the nervous system.
You have some troops that have specifically been assigned the task of detecting pain. Once they detect pain, they send off signals to the command center, the brain. The brain then decides how it wants to react to the pain, physically, emotionally, etc. So, the brain sends commands to another set of troops who know how to carry out that specific command.
So, let’s take a look at an example of what happens when your right-hand experiences a specific type of pain – burning from a hot plate.
When the detecting troops sense that your right hand is near something that’s really, really hot, they send off signals to the brain. The brain then decides that it needs your hand moved away from the hot plate. So, it sends a command over to the troops that know how to move your hand away from the hot plate. All this complex signaling happens in a matter of seconds. Amazing right?
The role of CBD in these pain pathways is that it weakens the signals being sent to the brain. Research in animals has shown that when there’s a nerve injury, the body produces even more receptors for Cannabinoids along these pain pathways. Activating these receptors overall makes the detecting troops less likely to fire off signals to the brain.
CBD for Neuropathy (Nerve Pain): The Results
Now, onto the results, I’ve seen in my patients. Chronic Pain is one of the most common conditions that I’ve treated. Within the category of chronic pain, neuropathy is one of the most causes of chronic pain.
When it comes to pain caused by neuropathy, I’ve seen results very similar to those in patients that have pain in general.
CBD Oil helps to either dull or it could entirely eliminate pain. The level of pain relief the patients experience depends a lot on their starting level of pain.
- Those in severe pain report moderate levels of pain with the use of CBD Oil,
- Those in moderate pain report mild levels of pain with the use of CBD Oil, and
- Those in mild pain report the elimination of pain with the use of CBD Oil.
For many patients, the use of CBD Oil also affects the use of their pain medications.
- For some, it helps to reduce the use of their prescription pain medications. Either they cut back on the dosages of the medications or they cut back on the number of medications they’re taking.
- In some cases, patients completely come off of prescription pain medications. And, they’re able to manage their pain with the use of CBD Oil alone.
Overall, I’d say the vast majority of my patients report that the CBD Oil works as well as, if not better than opioids, but without the side effects.