Chronic pain is a problem for more than 50 million people in the United States. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is sometimes used by people for chronic pain, and we have discussed CBD's potential for people with certain types of pain, like migraines and chronic inflammation in other articles. The majority of people with chronic pain have a discrete physical cause for it, such as inflammation, malignancies, or swelling joints, according to the National Institutes of Health. But what about those of us who have pain that occurs without any apparent cause? Could CBD provide a way to help people who have neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition where the nerve cells located throughout our body become damaged, and send pain signals even if we are not exposed to anything that would cause pain. Often, this condition impacts the nerve cells make up the nervous system in our arms and legs, which is known as peripheral neuropathy. Around 20 million people experience peripheral neuropathy, and it can be caused by as many as 100 diseases, including diabetes, endocrine diseases, some cancers, kidney disease, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Neuropathy can present with symptoms like constant pain, tingling, numbness, balance problems, temperature sensitivity, and sensitivity or pain from touching objects. These facts illustrate just how serious neuropathy can be.
In addition to the chronic pain and other symptoms of neuropathy, the treatment of this condition also poses a problem. Conventional treatments often involve anti-inflammatory drugs, opioid painkillers, antidepressants, and other powerful medications. Unfortunately, these drugs do not work for up to 42% of people with neuropathy. Additionally, many of the medications that are prescribed for people with neuropathy can carry risks of physical dependence, addiction, and a vast array of side effects. There is, however, a possibility that CBD might be worth trying for people with neuropathy.
A growing number of people with chronic pain choose CBD as a daily supplement, and some have reported benefits from their regimen. However, neuropathy has different causes compared to most cases of chronic pain, so it is important to consider what researchers have found regarding CBD and neuropathy. A study by Toth et al. found that CBD lowered the levels of proteins that would normally trigger nerve damage in mice in a diabetic state. In the same study, vaporized CBD also prevented the growth of microglial cells that would normally be involved in diabetic neuropathy. Moreover, the researchers stated that the CBD reduced pain levels for the mice.
Another study by Hoggart et al. investigated CBD's potential for pain relief with 234 people suffering from peripheral neuropathic pain. The researchers found that the participants' mean reported levels of pain decreased after 38 weeks of taking CBD, and more than half of the participants stated that their pain had been reduced by 30% or more. Naturally, caution must be used when generalizing these results, but they do suggest that CBD may affect neuropathic pain.
If you have neuropathy from diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or other sources, you might consider CBD as a daily supplement. CBD is packaged in many ways, including this distillate cartridge for vaping, or topicals that may be applied to areas of localized pain. Perhaps you will find that CBD has supplemental benefits.
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For research articles on cannabinoids and neuropathic pain check out these links: