Neuropathic pain is chronic pain caused by damage or dysfunction of the nervous system. If you or a loved one is suffering from nerve pain, you are not alone. It is widespread across the United States, affecting more than 20 million people. It can result from a variety of conditions, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and spinal cord injury. Nerve pain is often difficult to treat. Ongoing studies over the past decade show that there is promise in using CBD to help manage neuropathic pain.
A quick overview of neuropathy
Neuropathy is a general term used to describe nerve damage. This type of damage can occur in any part of the body and can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
• Burning, tingling or numbness in the feet or hands
• Throbbing pain or electric sensations
• Extreme touch sensitivity
• Muscle weakness or paralysis
• Balance and coordination problems
Many find neuropathic pain debilitating and very frustrating because it can make even the simplest tasks, like brushing your teeth or getting dressed, incredibly difficult.
There are many causes of neuropathy, including:
• Injuries, such as a spinal cord injury or a car accident
• Infections, such as HIV/AIDS or Lyme disease
• Autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, lupus and multiple sclerosis
• Exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals or certain chemicals
• Nerve compression, as in people with spinal stenosis
Sometimes the cause of neuropathy is unknown. According to the Peripheral Neuropathy Foundation, 60% of people with diabetes suffer from nerve pain and 40% of cancer patients suffer from chemotherapy-induced PN. However, these are just a few examples.
Treat neuropathic pain
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating neuropathic pain. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause of nerve damage and the severity of symptoms. Some standard treatment approaches include:
• Medications, such as painkillers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and topical creams or ointments
• Physical therapy
• Injections of nerve blocks
• Electrical stimulation
Treatment depends on the severity of the pain and may include a combination of therapies. Many consumers also include complementary holistic therapies, such as yoga or acupuncture, in their pain management plan.
CBD for neuropathic pain
Another herbal option is cannabidiol, better known as CBD, the compound found in the hemp plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects. That means it won’t get you high. Experts know that cannabinoids, including CBD, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in pain regulation.
A growing body of research suggests that CBD oil for pain may be an effective treatment for neuropathic pain.
Research in the Life Journal in 2020 highlights the therapeutic efficacy of full-spectrum hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain.
Cannabidiol has different effects on different parts of the body that can reduce pain. CBD can act as an agonist or antagonist at cannabinoid receptors, meaning it can either increase or decrease the activity of these receptors.
Research shows it can block the reuptake and breakdown of the endocannabinoid anandamide, which may help increase levels of this painkiller. This can lead to indirect activation of cannabinoid receptors, which can help reduce pain.
A 2020 study published in Current Pharm Biotechnology found that transdermal treatment with CBD can significantly improve pain and other disturbing sensations in patients with lower body peripheral neuropathy. CBD is a natural alternative to current therapies, which are often ineffective or have side effects.
An earlier article in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2018 reviewed cannabinoids and pain, including chronic pain and neuropathy. It discusses the effectiveness of CBD and the combination of all hemp compounds working together to provide relief. This is called the “entourage effect” and is why some people prefer full-spectrum CBD products over isolates.
Which CBD Products Work Best for Neuropathic Pain?
There is a wide assortment of CBD products for general discomfort to choose from. For neuropathic pain, choose products that can be applied directly to the skin or taken sublingually. This way, the CBD will have direct access to the areas that bother you.
Tinctures are a great choice for consistent dosing throughout the day. You can also use a CBD cream or ointment topically. CBD gummies and capsules are another easy way to get an accurate dosage of CBD, although they take longer to kick in.
How much CBD should you take for nerve pain?
CBD is non-toxic and there is no evidence of CBD overdose. However, it is always best to start with a small dose and gradually increase as needed.
For general discomfort, the general rule is to start with a low dose and increase until you find relief. A good starting point is 10mg of CBD, taken twice a day. If that doesn’t help, increase the dose by 10mg until you notice a difference.
CBD is a natural product that can supplement your current treatment for neuropathic pain, but be sure to consult your doctor. The hemp compound offers many benefits that can improve your overall quality of life, such as encouraging relaxation, supporting a healthy sleep schedule, and helping to keep stress levels low.