For many, pain management is a simple affair. You suffer from pain; you take painkillers; the pain goes away. From headaches to menstrual cramps, this is the pathway for coping with pain. However, it is not always that simple. For some unfortunate sufferers, their pain is persistent and severe. They are experiencing a type of pain called neuropathy, which is caused by damaged nerves rather than ligaments or muscles.
Neuropathy is notoriously troublesome to treat, but could cannabidiol (otherwise known as CBD) be the solution its victims have been waiting for? It would be beneficial to examine the real progress CBD offers to the effort to ease one of the most ornery types of pain known to humankind.
Defining Neuropathy: Sciatica, Compression, And More
There are a variety of reasons a person may find themselves suffering from neuropathy. The most common include:
• Nerve damage via a herniated spinal disc. This is most frequently of the sciatic nerve, resulting in a condition called sciatica.
• Compression pain.
• Hand and wrist conditions, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, can cause nerve pain.
• Chemotherapy – a common treatment for cancer – can result in nerve damage due to neurotoxicity.
Existing Treatments For Nerve Pain
The reason that studies on the impact of cannabidiol are causing such excitement is due to how difficult nerve pain can be to manage.
The most conventional options for neuropathy treatment are a class of pharmaceuticals called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter connected to the nervous system. Two GABA analogue medications are commonly used for nerve pain:
While these medications can control even severe neuropathy in some cases, this is not guaranteed. Particularly for chronic sufferers, neuropathy is a persistent problem that is at least partially treatment-refractory. But there is a new hope.
CBD is a chemical found in the hemp and marijuana plants. It is not psychoactive, so it doesn’t produce a “high”.
Over recent years, CBD has become a source of interest for those researching pain management techniques.
The science behind this can seem complex at first, but should be explored. Within the human body, there are a series of cell receptor proteins that have been dubbed the “endocannabinoid system”. This system was actually named for the cannabis plant.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) controls bodily functions such as:
• Immune function
• Pain perception
If the ECS is not well maintained by the body’s natural processes, there can be an imbalance of bodily systems. This, in turn, causes problems in the areas listed above.
Studies have concluded that CBD is able to help assist the ECS in its regulation of these vital processes.
How Can CBD Help Neuropathy?
The most pertinent responsibility of the ECS, when discussing neuropathy, is “pain perception”.
While CBD cannot stop the pain neuropathy causes, studies are concluding it can have life-changing benefits regarding how much pain the sufferer experiences. For people living with neuropathy, this is a massive leap forward that could improve their lives exponentially.
The 2009 review study Cannabinoids as pharmacotherapies for neuropathic pain: From the bench to the bedside by Elizabeth J. Rahn and Andrea G. Hohmann concluded that: “Clinical studies largely affirm that neuropathic pain patients derive benefits from cannabinoid treatment.”
There is plenty of other evidence to support the use of CBD for chronic pain in general, but the emphasis on neuropathy from this study is particularly noteworthy. Given its reputation for being problematic to treat on a long-term basis, scientists have long been searching for an effective treatment for neuropathy. It seems the answer was there all along, waiting in hemp plants.
The Medical Community & Legality
To an extent, there is already a change in the medical profession with regard to CBD. The studies that have been done on its efficacy pass strict scientific rigor.
The major concern for neuropathy sufferers is that CBD is often placed in the same category as marijuana, and thus treated as illegal or psychoactive due to ignorance in the general populace. To understand why CBD does not produce the same “high” associated with marijuana, you have to understand the plants in question.
There are two different plants from which CBD can be obtained: marijuana and hemp. Marijuana allows users to get high, an effect that is created thanks to a chemical compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In contrast, CBD is more abundantly found in hemp plants.
Confusingly, both plants do contain levels of both THC and CBD, but to make it simple:
• Marijuana plants = higher levels of THC than CBD = make users feel high.
• Hemp plants = higher levels of CBD than THC = do not generate a high.
Regulations have thus focused on the ratio of THC to CBD in products. Under EU law, formulations that are more than 0.2% THC are banned. In the USA, the Federal Drugs Administration consider CBD obtained from hemp plants to be a dietary supplement and place no limits on usage.
Unfortunately, CBD is often tarred with the same brush as THC. With the current status of CBD, it is possible to use it legally to manage neuropathy, but obtaining it can be hard due to its problematic cousin. Hard, but not impossible – and still 100% legal.
Given the benefits of CBD for neuropathy sufferers and the scientific backing it has received, it seems that CBD could truly offer a viable alternative for neuropathy. For this reason alone, both sufferers and the medical community as a whole would be wise to embrace the possibilities it offers.
Want to learn more about legal CBD derived from hemp and how you can get it today? Check out the popular article we published here.