How Medical Marijuana Can Help with Neuropathy
Neuropathy can be defined as any damage to the human sensory, motor, or autonomic nerves as a result of an underlying cause. It is a widespread complication that arises from several different medical conditions. Neuropathy is a complex and severe condition that affects approximately 20 million people living in America.
Also referred to as Peripheral Neuropathy, it is a condition that can cause weakness, numbness, and chronic pain in the body’s extremities such as our hands and feet. The pain caused by Neuropathy is generally described as stabbing, throbbing, or burning and can be very agonizing. It can develop from a wide range of causes like traumatic injuries, infections, diabetes, toxin exposure, as well as our genetic predispositions.
Recently, medical marijuana has been discovered to have immense benefits to people living with neuropathy by relieving most of the pain caused by the condition.
To fully understand exactly how medical marijuana treatment can help with neuropathy, we have to first acquire a little more insight on neuropathic symptoms.
What is There to Know Neuropathy?
To understand how neuropathic pain develops, let’s take a closer look at our peripheral nerves.
The human Peripheral nervous system is divided into many different components with specific individual functions: the sensory nerves which receive sensation from touch, temperature, and pain; the motor nerves which control muscle movement; while the autonomic nerves regulate other vital functions such as our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and bladder functions.
The whole peripheral nervous system basically functions by acquiring and sending information from our central nervous system across the rest of our body. When our nerve fibers become damaged, injured, or dysfunctional, they can transmit wrong signals to other pain receptors.
Peripheral neuropathy sometimes affects a single nerve (mononeuropathy), or two nerves located in different areas of our bodies (multiple mononeuropathy) or even several nerves (polyneuropathy). Most people suffer from polyneuropathy; however, it all depends largely on which nerves become damaged.
Still, pain can by nature, be complicated and entirely subjective. Pain cannot be measured; it is often difficult to describe and it affects each individual in a unique way; this explains why there are lots of treatment options.
Conventional neuropathy treatment examines the underlying causes of the chronic nerve pain. People suffering from neuropathic pain are generally prescribed anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medication or strong painkillers like morphine.
How Medical Marijuana Can Help with Neuropathy
Medical marijuana, which is legal in 30 states in America for medical purposes, has shown lots of promising results when it comes to treating peripheral neuropathy.
In recent studies, medical marijuana has been proven to offer relief to patients who have become unresponsive to other traditional forms of neuropathic treatment. Marijuana doctors confirm that this treatment is mostly possible because of the compound’s natural interaction with the human endocannabinoid system.
Our body’s Peripheral nerves, which detect painful sensations have cannabinoid receptors and can, therefore, be influenced by the consumption of cannabis.
Whenever THC and CBD compounds enter our bodies, they activate the cannabinoid (CB1 and CB2) receptors which act as regulators for our neurotransmitters and the central nervous system, by helping to manage the pain levels.
A recent study showed that regular consumption of herbal cannabis might reduce pain intensity, improve sleep, and also improve tolerance levels. Further studies also proved that small doses of medical marijuana effectively reduced pain, especially when compared to other traditional neuropathic pain-relieving medications which would require higher doses.
Even further studies proved that medical marijuana could effectively lower pain levels resulting from neuropathy, cancer and other chronic and acute pain conditions. However, more long-term research needs to be carried out to establish the connection between pain and cannabis, but the evidence gathered is so far encouraging.
Will Medical Marijuana Get You High?
Medical marijuana has been legalized in most US states. A small yet increasing number of cities and states have also made recreational pot legal as well. Marijuana still remains the most widely abused drug in America today.
Marijuana has some clinically proven benefits, which include relief from severe pain. But smoking it can have some not-so-good effects on our health, like breathing complications.
Marijuana is obtained naturally from the dried cannabis flowers. It contains over 500 chemical compounds. Cannabis is capable of inducing mind-altering (psychoactive) effects. The two major chemical compounds in cannabis are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD cannabidiol.
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Whenever cannabis is smoked, THC enters the bloodstream via the lungs and then goes into the brain.
THC influences the area of the brain, which responds to pleasure, sex, and food. This action leads to the secretion of dopamine: a chemical responsible for causing the high.
CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t induce any high. Instead, it counteracts the effects of THC by calming you down and relaxing any form of anxiety or paranoia.
CBD has also been discovered to be beneficial for treating epilepsy and the side effects associated with chemotherapy. Medical marijuana is largely made up of CBD and has very little amounts of THC. Therefore, marijuana therapy will not get you high.
Relevant information on the general safety of medical marijuana treatment remains limited. Until the benefits and risk profiles for neuropathy have been better categorized, medical practitioners in states where marijuana treatment is legal should recommend it only after cautious consideration.