- General Health
How Could CBD Oil for Neuropathy Help You?
There is a prevailing belief that neuropathy is among the most painful sensations a human being can experience. It occurs because of dysfunction, injury, or damage to nerves. Of the two main diagnosed types (peripheral and diabetic), it is the former that is most prevalent. Globally, an estimated 380 million people live with neuropathy. Opiates are a conventional treatment but carry many side effects and a high risk of addiction.
CBD oil for neuropathy is becoming popular because it is non-intoxicating and seemingly doesn’t have addictive tendencies. An estimated 20 million Americans have peripheral neuropathy, so any additional treatment option is welcome. If you are wondering how CBD oil and neuropathy link, it has to do with the cannabinoid’s effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
In this article, we look at CBD oil for neuropathy, and whether science supports the claims. First, let’s learn more about the condition.
What Is Neuropathy?
The best neuropathy definition states that it is damage or dysfunction to one or more nerves. It typically results in tingling, numbness, and pain in a specific area. The issue regularly begins in the hands and feet but can move to other parts of the body. The confused and damaged nerve cells send mixed signals to your brain and other bodily systems. The condition is often called peripheral neuropathy.
It indicates a problem with your peripheral nervous system, which is the network of nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. When your nerve cells (neurons) are destroyed, it disrupts the way they communicate with one another and the brain.
Researchers have determined that there are over 100 types of neuropathy. However, the main kinds impact the three types of nerves in the peripheral system, which are:
- Sensory Nerves: These carry messages regarding the five senses to the brain via the spinal cord. An example is conveying information about the things you hold in your hand.
- Motor Nerves: These travel in the opposite way of your sensory nerves, and they bring messages to the muscles via the brain. Motor nerves tell the muscles how and when to contract, so you move. An example is moving your hand away from a hot object.
- Autonomic Nerves: These are in charge of bodily functions outside a person’s direct control. Examples include heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, and breathing. They continually monitor and respond to what your body needs and external stressors. Your body temperature increases when you exercise, for instance, and your autonomic system triggers sweating to ensure your body remains cool.
The primary types of neuropathy are:
- Multifocal Motor Neuropathy: It affects the muscles and symptoms include muscle paralysis, twitching, weakness, and cramps.
- Sensory Neuropathy: You feel this in the body’s extremities such as the feet or hands. It can ‘spread’ to arms and legs, and symptoms include tingling and numbness, an inability to feel pain or increased pain.
- Autonomic Neuropathy: It is a ‘polyneuropathy’ that impacts the non-sensory, non-voluntary nervous system. It mainly affects the internal organs, including the digestive tract or cardiovascular system.
It depends on the type of neuropathy you experience.
Multifocal Motor Neuropathy
- You may experience severe muscle weakness that prevents you from performing basic movements. Examples include trying to button your shirt.
- Your muscles may feel paralyzed, or else they twitch unexpectedly.
- You may find it hard to lift the front part of your foot and toes, especially when walking.
- Pins, needles, and hyperactivity.
- An inability to detect any changes in cold or heat.
- A loss of coordination.
- Stabbing, burning, shooting, dull, or lancing pains, especially at night.
- Diarrhea or constipation, particularly during the night.
- Low blood pressure causes you to feel dizzy or sick when you stand up.
- A lack of sweating or excessive sweating.
- Issues with sexual function. An example is erectile dysfunction in men.
What Causes Neuropathy?
In many cases, neuropathy’s causes are idiopathic. It means the cause is unknown. However, there is also a long list of possible reasons. Diabetes is the #1 cause of chronic peripheral neuropathy; it occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves. An estimated 60-70% of people living with diabetes have a level of neuropathy.
High blood sugar levels result in damage to tiny blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the nerves in the extremities. These vessels also impact your kidneys, heart, eyes, and other organs. Your skin becomes damaged, and the loss of sensation increases the risk of further injury.
- Some autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Infections such as shingles, Lyme disease, and HIV infections. All of these cause nerve damage.
- Chronic kidney disease. Once your kidneys fail to function correctly, a chemical and salt imbalance can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
- Injuries are a risk because a tight plaster cast or broken bones can place pressure on the nerves.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a specific form of peripheral neuropathy. An infection triggers it.
Other Neuropathy Causes
- Solvents, insecticides, and other poisons.
- Forms of cancer, including multiple myeloma and lymphoma.
- A folate or B-12 vitamin deficiency.
- Certain medications, particularly those used in HIV and chemotherapy treatments.
- Excessive intake of alcohol.
- Chronic liver disease.
You may also experience nerve tissue damage due to disorders of small blood vessels that cut off blood supply to the nerves. Benign tumors that impact nerve tissue, known as neuromas, may also result in neuropathy.
Treatment for Neuropathy
With so many forms of neuropathy, the range of treatments is vast. And, if you have peripheral neuropathy, the cause dictates the treatment. Examples include surgery, physical therapy, and OTC painkillers.
Broadly speaking, neuropathy drug options fall into the following categories:
- Pain Relievers: OTC NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may provide short-term pain relief. You may also receive anti-seizure medications such as carbamazepine that usually treats epilepsy. There are opioid painkillers such as tramadol, but there is a risk of addiction and death from overdose.
- Antidepressants: A common option is venlafaxine.
- Topical Treatments: Physicians often prescribe capsaicin 0.075% cream. It usually contains chili pepper, and you rub the cream on the affected area. There are also skin patches for localized, temporary relief.
There is a long list of additional therapy treatments for neuropathy:
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): A TENS machine delivers low-level electrical currents through electrodes placed on your skin. The goal is to disrupt pain signals and prevent them from reaching the brain.
- Plasma Exchange and Intravenous Immune Globulin: The process involves removing the blood. Next, it removes proteins and antibodies from the blood before returning it to the body. Patients receive high levels of proteins called immunoglobulins, that act as antibodies.
- Physical Therapy: This form of therapy helps improve the movements of patients with muscle weaknesses. You may require a cane, wheelchair, foot or hand braces, or a walker.
- Surgery: Surgery can reduce the pressure if you have neuropathy due to pressure on the nerves.
CBD Oil for Neuropathy
There is a link between CBD oil and neuropathy. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, but it potentially offers a similar pain and inflammation relief benefit. Studies suggest that CBD can reduce inflammation. Its ability to eliminate excessive, immune-related, oxidative stress is a potential reason. The result of this process is a body that’s able to heal itself more efficiently.
A study by Mucke M., published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in March 2018, looked at marijuana-based medicines on neuropathic pain in adults. It was a review of hundreds of studies, and while not all of them were positive, a significant number were. There is evidence that cannabinoids can reduce the symptoms of neuropathy.
A study by Xiong W., published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine in June 2012, looked at cannabinoids and inflammation. The study’s goal was to see whether cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain via the targeting of alpha-3 glycine receptors. The conclusion was that cannabinoids did suppress neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Moreover, they did so by targeting the expected receptors.
An ongoing clinical study aims to check cannabis oil’s ability to combat pain. The research involves 40 participants with cancer who have poorly controlled pain. Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation and Ontario Clinical Oncology Group collaborated for the study. It began in July 2018 and will conclude in September 2020.
Assessing the right CBD oil for neuropathy dosage is tricky. As for how to use CBD oil for neuropathy, there are several options. Softgel capsules are ideal for those who don’t like the taste of CBD oil, and you may also consider a CBD cream to rub on a specific painful area. Begin with a small dose to see how your body responds, and increase until you believe there is a positive effect.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Neuropathy
There is seemingly a positive link between CBD oil and neuropathy. An increasing list of studies suggest the potential for cannabidiol to relieve pain. Indeed, it is likely that CBD is a less risky proposition than opioid painkillers. It has relatively few side effects, is non-intoxicating, and has a low addiction risk.
That said, research into CBD oil for neuropathy has yet to find tangible results for CBD modulating the pain caused. We know that THC’s intoxicating effect influences sense perception and mood, and it could ‘distract’ users from the pain of peripheral neuropathy. Alas, we can’t say the same for CBD.
We are aware that the cannabinoid acts indirectly on factors that lead to pain. For example, CBD stops the body from absorbing anandamide (the bliss molecule). Anandamide sends messages on pain. CBD could help your existing levels of anandamide to offer a more significant effect.
The cannabinoid could also limit autoimmune responses, inflammation, and insomnia. Those who use CBD oil for neuropathy claim it helps when taken regularly. Though you should begin with a small dose, you will likely need a substantial degree to tackle severe pain. It is not uncommon to require over 100mg a day in some cases. Try it for yourself, and let us know the outcome!