Neuropathy is when the nerves surrounding the spinal cord and brain, are damaged. The damaged nerves usually transmit signals between your nervous system within the brain and spinal cord to the entire body. Therefore, damage to these nerves can prompt great discomfort, pain, and weakness.
Types of Neuropathy
Several types of neuropathy usually result from underlying conditions, such as cancer or diabetes. Some types of neuropathy also occur due to injury. Common forms of neuropathy include:
Mononeuropathy: Mononeuropathy is a kind of neuropathy affecting only one or a few nerves in a group. While this kind of neuropathy results from physical trauma or injury, it can also result from prolonged nerve pressure which occurs due to sitting on a chair for long.
Polyneuropathy: Polyneuropathy is a type of neuropathy that affects several nerves and nerve types, leading to high levels of dysfunction across your peripheral nervous system. This condition results when an underlying health condition (i.e., cancer, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis) influences different peripheral nerves to stop working at the same time.
Does Medical Marijuana Work for Neuropathy?
Researchers at the Center for Pain Medicine, University of California, San Diego, analyzed the current body of research into how cannabis works for neuropathy. The research consisted of several patients with different causes related to their neuropathy.
Multiple random controlled trials note that cannabis was as effective as conventional pharmaceutical drugs for relieving neuropathic pain. While these studies consisted of small sample sizes and were conducted over a limited time, the results showed enough consistency to prove that cannabis may be an effective and safe treatment for neuropathic pain. There’s still a need for more research, but current evidence is promising.
What Symptoms of Neuropathy Does Cannabis Treat?
The current research shows that cannabis may be helpful for several common neuropathy symptoms, including:
- Chronic pain and discomfort
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness
- Pain-related insomnia
Alleviating Neuropathy with Medical Cannabis
According to research published in the Journal of Pain, CB1 receptors are in the periaqueductal gray (PAG), rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM), and the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. These locations help medical marijuana to modulate acute and persistent pain signals in the CNS.
The activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors increases the amount of anandamide (AEA), a self-made neurotransmitter, in the body. This directly influences astrocytes, which consist of 60%-70% of cells in the CNS. This is significant because AEA makes the astrocytes generate a protein that facilitates neuronal, or nerve cell growth, thus helping with neuropathic pain, numbness, and tingling sensations.
Many individuals suffer from neuropathic pain. While physicians can only offer an extremely limited number of prescription medications, most of these medications come with tons of negative side effects.
Medical marijuana can work as an alternative treatment for neuropathy. It lacks the negative side effects of conventional drugs and offers fast relief. Cannabis also offers several delivery methods allowing each patient to discover products that match their needs. The potent anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis make cannabis a great help for neuropathic pain patients.