What is Peripheral Neuropathy and Can Cannabis Help?

by in Medical Marijuana October 28, 2021

The pain of nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, can be extreme. With multiple causes and challenging symptoms, relief becomes necessary to cope with the condition.  Evidence is building that cannabis can treat peripheral neuropathy symptoms, however. While continued studies are required, it seems the properties of cannabis make for excellent supplemental treatment for the pain of nerve damage.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition resulting from damage to nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral neuropathy can affect body functions such as digestion, urination, and blood flow. Nerves that spread out from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body are called the peripheral nervous system. These peripheral nerves send signals from the central nervous system to the rest of the body and send sensory information back, such as the nerves in the fingertips.

The peripheral nervous system can become damaged in a lot of ways. Common causes of peripheral nerve damage include physical damage and infections. Metabolic issues and exposure to toxins are also ways peripheral nerves can be damaged. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has a long list of causes of peripheral nerve damage. This damage can significantly reduce the quality of one’s life. That is why more and more studies are looking at cannabis treatment for peripheral neuropathy.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

Because the peripheral nervous system runs through the entire body and affects a lot of different body functions, the effects of peripheral neuropathy can look different in everyone. There are generally three types of nerves that fall into this group: sensory nerves (feeling and sense), motor nerves (movement and coordination), and autonomic nerves (body functions such as breathing).

Signs of peripheral neuropathy include, but are not limited to:

  • Gradual and escalating numbness and tingling feelings in the limbs
  • Sharp pains from touch or even without touch
  • Coordination issues
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Drops in blood pressure

Further symptoms exist as well. Can these symptoms of peripheral neuropathy be treated with cannabis? The nature of cannabis suggests so.

Your Brain on Weed

The effect weed has on peripheral neuropathy pain results from the chemical process between weed and the brain.

There is compatibility between cannabis and the human body at a fundamental level due to the endocannabinoid system. This system is a series of receptors found in the body that absorb and respond to cannabinoid chemicals. Based on the name, you can see already that cannabinoids are found in cannabis. Two of the most well-known of these chemicals are CBD and THC.

Cannabinoid receptors have been found all over the body, including within the cells themselves. The chemical compounds of cannabis even affect the brain, it seems.

But what does science say?

a plastic 3d model of a brain

Peripheral Neuropathy and Cannabis: Can It Help?

The question of whether weed helps peripheral neuropathy symptoms shows some promise. Given the relatively recent adoption of medicinal marijuana in treating conditions, research is still needed. However, existing research suggests that medicinal marijuana does have a place in treating symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

For example, one study in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine found that “small clinical studies have found that cannabis provides benefits for peripheral neuropathy, including pain reduction, better sleep, and improved function, even in patients with symptoms refractory to standard therapies.” However, the study does advise caution as some issues can result from doses that are too high. However, as far as studies go, this is promising, especially when proper dosing is practiced.

Another study, Medical Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain, used randomized, controlled trials to study the effect of cannabis on peripheral neuropathy pain. The results of the study suggest that short-term, low-dose cannabis vaporization can treat neuropathic pain.

A 2017 study in Pain Physician also shows promising results. The study’s conclusion suggests that cannabis-based medications seem effective for chronic pain treatment, particularly chronic pain associated with neuropathic pain. As with other studies, the research pool is limited but growing.

Bottom Line

The pain of peripheral neuropathy can be intense and brutal to live with. Thankfully, it seems medicinal marijuana may help to reduce that pain. In Arkansas, peripheral neuropathy is considered to be one of the 18 qualifying conditions for medicinal marijuana.

If you feel you are suffering chronic nerve pain, medicinal marijuana is a solid supplemental option to soothe the symptoms. To see if you can qualify for cannabis for peripheral neuropathy pain, begin certification with Ozark MMJ Cards.

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