Over the past years, there have been a growing interest in the use of medical cannabis to treat neuropathy. Of course, this interest has, to a greater extent been brought about as the changes in societal perception and the legislations on medical cannabis continues to relax. It should be noted that neuropathy pain is a complicated condition that could be challenging to treat with current medications. However, recent scientific findings have elucidated the intricate role of the cannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain. According to a study that was published in Pub Med in February 2018, medical cannabis could be an alternative treatment of neuropathy. The researchers asserted that medical cannabis may be as tolerable as well as effective as the current treatments for neuropathy pain.
Scientific evidences on the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of neuropathy vary, depending on the type of neuropathy.
Optic neuropathy is an inflammation that damages a bundle of nerve fibers that transmit visual information from the eyes to the brain. This bunch of nerves is known as the optic nerves. This condition is known to result in pain and vision loss. Even though the cause of optic neuropathy is not yet known, scientists have attributed it to potential causes, including direct trauma, nutritional deficiencies, blocked blood flow as well as toxic damage to or pressure on the nerve etc. Optic neuropathy can only be treated if the underlying condition causing it is identified. Most doctors actually use steroids or immunosuppressive medications to treat optic neuropathy, but the problem is that such medications are associated with adverse side effects such as acne, high blood pressure, blurred vision, cataracts, as well as difficulties in sleeping.
Scientists have actually found a link between medical marijuana and the treatment of optic neuropathy. Many scientists have argued that THC, an active ingredient in medical cannabis can reduce eye pressure and lower blood pressure, thereby preserving the nerves.
According to a 1970’s study by the National Eye Institute, medical marijuana just like other optic neuropathy treatments reduce the pressure within the eye. The research further revealed that medical marijuana lowers intraocular pressure in individuals with glaucoma as well as those with normal pressure.
Furthermore, in 2003, the American Academy of Ophthalmology disclosed a position statement that some derivatives in cannabis can lead to the lowering of intraocular pressure when orally administered, but not when applied topically to the eye.
There are also indications that medical cannabis may be an alternative effective treatment for peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves are damaged, thereby causing weakness, numbness as well as pain in the hands and feet. The pain associated with peripheral neuropathy can be best described as stabbing, burning or tingling. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend on the types of nerves affected, considering that every nerve in the peripheral system has a specific function. Some of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy nevertheless include gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your feet or hands, a sharp, jabbing, throbbing, freezing or burning pain, extreme sensitivity to touch, lack of coordination and falling, as well as muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected. Peripheral neuropathy is said to have so many causes, some of which include medications, exposure to poisons, infections, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, diabetes as well as inherited disorders.
According to a recent 2018 article that was published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, medical cannabis may be an alternative or adjunctive treatment of peripheral neuropathy. But even though some studies have moderately improved pain from inhaled cannabis use, adverse effects such as impaired cognition and respiratory problems are common, especially if the cannabis is consumed in high doses. This therefore explains why doctors in states where the cannabis therapy is legal are advised to recommend it to patients with peripheral neuropathy only after careful considerations.
Findings from studies between 2005 and 2010 also revealed that inhaled cannabis products were more beneficial for patients with neuropathy caused by nerves and spinal cord injuries, peripheral neuropathy and HIV. Another study from 2015 demonstrated a reduction in diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain in patients where other treatments did not work.
Small Fiber Neuropathy
There are indications that medical marijuana can also be effective in the treatment of small fiber neuropathy. Results from research between 2005 and 2010 revealed that both synthetic CBD and inhaled cannabis products can successfully manage the symptoms linked to neuropathy.
Findings from another research that was conducted in Canada and the University of Pennsylvania further corroborated the claims that medical cannabis is beneficial in the treatment of neuropathy, notably Small Fiber Neuropathy.
Auditory neuropathy is a type of hearing condition where it is possible to detect sound with your inner ear, but difficult to send this sound from the brain to the ear. People with auditory neuropathy usually suffer from hearing loss which could either be mild or severe. Some of the common causes of auditory neuropathy include lack of energy at birth, premature birth, neurological disorders, infectious diseases like mumps, immune disorders like Guillain-Barré and even exposure to drugs or chemicals that damage the inner ear.
It is interesting to note that medical cannabis has been linked to the treatment of auditory neuropathy. According to a study that was done in 1976, the researchers who were prejudiced against cannabis couldn’t find any negative impact on the use of medical cannabis in treating auditory neuropathy.
Furthermore, findings from another study that was published in 2017 revealed that cannabis for auditory neuropathy does way more than just treating the symptoms of tinnitus and may even treat tinnitus itself.
Autonomic neuropathy occurs as a result of nerve damage. This condition occurs when damaged nerves interfere with the messages sent between the brain and the autonomic nervous system (ANS), thereby causing the ANS to stop working. Of course, the ANS controls voluntary body functions including heartbeat, breathing, sweating, digestion, and blood pressure regulation.
Numerous studies have insinuated that medical marijuana can be used in the treatment of a vast array of conditions including the disorders that might cause autonomic neuropathy. This assertion can be backed by the fact that medical marijuana helps the natural endocannabinoid system of the human body to regulate inflammations, control pain as well as impact other common symptoms that result from an array of disorders.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
Medical marijuana also has characteristics that can eliminate common symptoms of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, notably pain and muscle spasms. Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a medical condition that causes many debilitating syndromes like muscle weakness/paralysis, fatigue/loss of sensation, as well as pain in areas of the body. As a matter of fact, CIDP is a nerve disease that brings numbness, and pain and it can occur at any point in life.
Medical marijuana has already been proven to be effective in the treatment of pain. Of course, the pain associated with CIDP is similar to other types of pain, notably pain associated with multiple sclerosis, which medical marijuana is known to treat.
According to findings from a 2012 study, low doses of weed are useful and significantly reduces neuropathic pain, thereby improving sleep.
Cranial neuropathy is similar to peripheral neuropathy, except for the fact that it involves the cranial nerves. It should be noted that cranial neuropathy could involve any of the twelve cranial nerves. This condition is typically treated with medication such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants as well as opioids and opioid-like drugs.
Researchers have discovered that medical marijuana could also be used in alleviating some of the symptoms associated with cranial neuropathy, especially pain.
According to a 2010 study that was published in CMAJ, inhaling a single 25 mg dose of 9.4 percent THC herbal marijuana three times daily for five days, helps in lowering the intensity of pain as well as improving sleep in patients with cranial neuropathy.
Focal neuropathy occurs when a single nerve is damaged. Most often, this single nerve is damaged in the hand, head, torso, or leg. Focal neuropathy is however less common than peripheral or autonomic neuropathy.
According to a 2007 peer-reviewed medical journal known as Neurology, medical marijuana is effective in reducing pain caused by damaged nerves.
More so, in March 2016 researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Medical School suggested that medical marijuana may be an alternative to more common prescription painkillers.
Marijuana strains reported to help with Neuropathy:
How To Get Medical Marijuana
If you are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana to treat Neuropathy or other medical conditions, you will first need to consult with a certified doctor in order to get a medical marijuana card. To get started, simply fill out the MMJ patient registration form, press submit and a physician or clinic representative will contact you as available.