Cannabis for Peripheral Neuropathy
Painful peripheral neuropathy is one of Montana’s listed conditions for which a doctor can recommend medical marijuana. It is a condition that develops as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system and can present in a variety of forms and follow different patterns. Symptoms can range from numbness or tingling to pricking sensations, or muscle weakness. Severe symptoms may include burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction. Peripheral neuropathy distorts and sometimes interrupts messages between the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body.
If you’re striving to avoid traditional pharmacological medications because of their accompanying side-effects, research shows that cannabis may provide a healthy alternative.
Peripheral nerves that detect pain sensations contain cannabinoid receptors and are therefore impacted by any form of cannabis consumption. When THC and CBD enter your body, they activate your CB1 and CB2 receptors which regulate the neurotransmitter and central nervous system, helping to manage pain levels.
In a 2017 article, Morgan Smith highlighted the findings of cannabis for neuropathy studies:
- A small 2010 study found that “a single inhalation of 25mg of 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol herbal cannabis three times daily for five days reduced the intensity of pain, improved sleep and was well tolerated.”
- A separate 2013 study found that when compared to traditional neuropathic pain medication, vaporized cannabis, even at low doses, may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain.
- And a study in 2015 found that cannabinoids are effective at lowering pain levels associated with cancer, neuropathy and other acute and chronic pain conditions.
The Neuropathy Journal writes, “Nothing is 100% safe, but when you weigh the Benefits against the Risks, and if you suffer from chronic neuropathic pain, you may find a worthwhile benefit from using medical marijuana, as long as you use it responsibly. We are not suggesting you break any state or federal laws, but if you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, we are suggesting you may want to discuss with your doctor whether medical marijuana should be considered as part of your treatment plan.”
Rosemary Mazanet, MD, Ph.D., Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Columbia Care, wrote a 5-part series on Medical Cannabis for Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment. Dr. Mazanet’s medical background has given her an in-depth understanding of the potential of medical marijuana in treating chronic pain. She is a board-certified oncologist; an alumna of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and is a trustee at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
“In studies, marijuana performs just as well as gabapentin, a leading pharmaceutical used to treat neuropathy. An additional advantage of cannabis for pain is that whereas narcotics commonly increase nausea and vomiting, marijuana relieves those symptoms.”