Neuropathy, or nerve damage, effects over 30 million Americans. Neuropathic pain is chronic pain made prevalent by tissue injury. Most commonly, patients report that tingling and numbness occur, usually in the hands and feet.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain or cramping, especially of the hands, feet or calf muscles
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature
- Loss of reflexes
- Muscle wasting in the hands and feet
- Weakness, especially in the feet or hands
- Loss of balance, particularly in the dark
- Dizziness, especially when getting up from a bed or a chair
- Sexual dysfunction
- Depression/anxiety due to lifestyle change
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website states that neuropathy may be either inherited or acquired through disease processes or trauma. Diseases or disorders and their related processes (such as inflammation) can be associated with neuropathy. Exposure to toxins may damage nerves and cause peripheral neuropathy: medication toxicity, environmental or industrial toxins and heavy alcohol consumption.
Additional diseases/disorders include:
- Metabolic and endocrine disorders
- Small vessel disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Kidney disorders
The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) states that “with neuropathic pain, the nerve fibers themselves might be damaged, dysfunctional, or injured. These damaged nerve fibers send incorrect signals to other pain centers. The impact of a nerve fiber injury includes a change in nerve function both at the site of injury and areas around the injury.” Additionally, the ACPA reported on a clinical trial that suggests that inhaled cannabis may provide short-term relief from Neuropathy.
For centuries, humans have relied on the cannabis plant for its therapeutic properties. More than ever, cannabis can aid in the treatment of chronic disease and as a supplement to other medical interventions and treatments. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors all over the body. This system enables a connection between body and mind, signaling to all other systems when something feels good or bad. When the body is defensive against trauma, this system begins to fail, resulting in physical, mental and/or neurological conditions. The compounds THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) found in cannabis signal the same cannabinoid receptors as anandamide. The cannabinoid receptor AEA is commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to relieve pain and anxiety.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada concluded that there is evidence for the use of low-dose medical marijuana in refractory neuropathic pain in conjunction with traditional analgesics.
A 2015 article published in The Journal of American Medicine found that that “use of marijuana for chronic pain and neuropathic pain is supported by high-quality evidence. Six trials that included 325 patients examined chronic pain, 6 trials that included 396 patients investigated neuropathic pain, and 12 trials that included 1600 patients focused on multiple sclerosis. Several of these trials had positive results, suggesting that marijuana or cannabinoids may be efficacious for these indications.”
The Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache determined that cannabis-based medicinal extracts used in different populations of chronic nonmalignant neuropathic pain patients may provide effective analgesia in conditions that are refractory to other treatments.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs describes the compounds THC and CBD as working concurrently to alleviate pain symptoms. These particular cannabinoids, or combinations thereof, have been shown to differentially affect specific medical conditions (e.g., anxiety, chronic pain; and yield different side effects associated with cannabis use. For instance, a composition of cannabis containing both THC and CBD was found to have more analgesic properties than one with THC alone.
Pain management is the most commonly reported reason for seeking medical cannabis according to according to this journal article published in The Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Medical cannabis allows patients to self-administer the medicine at their own preferred intervals unlike pharmaceuticals which must be taken at specific intervals, and rarely can be taken more than every few hours.
The following excerpt is from an article published by Dr. Mazanet for The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy. “Although CBD and THC act differently in the body, they seem to have many of the same medical benefits. Dr. Mazanet recommends THC and CBD for neuropathic pain and explains how each cannabinoid works within the human physiology and their main uses:
- Analgesic/”Opiate Type Pain Relief”
- Appetite Stimulant
- Muscle Relaxation
- Neuropathic Pain Relief
There is consistent and science-based evidence that medical cannabis is beneficial to patients suffering from Neuropathy. While traditional pharmaceuticals may alleviate some of the associated symptoms, medical cannabis can aid even further, where pharma leaves off.
Through the powers of the endocannabinoid system and with the proper use of medical marijuana, patients can experience long-lasting and natural pain and symptom relief.
Each patient’s needs are unique. Speak to a certifying medical marijuana physician to determine the recommended strain and method of consumption.