It’s well established that cannabis is effective for treating pain from inflammation. But what about marijuana for neuropathy pain?
As it turns out, a recent survey demonstrated that patients struggling with the painful symptoms of peripheral neuropathy benefitted from cannabis. And THC, especially.
It’s yet another victory for marijuana and its ability to treat pain. It’s an even bigger victory for those who suffer with peripheral neuropathy.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
The nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord are known as peripheral nerves. These nerves are responsible for carrying information from the brain and spinal cord (i.e. the central nervous system) to the rest of the body. When these nerves are damaged (peripheral neuropathy), it can cause multiple symptoms that can severely decrease one’s quality of life.
Peripheral neuropathy has many causes. The most common cause is diabetes. Yet it can also affect patients with MS, HIV/AIDS, infections, ad metabolic problems, as well as those who have suffered a traumatic injury or are prone to genetic causes.
Depending on the cause of the problem, pain and other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are generally treated with anticonvulsants, topical agents, SSRI antidepressants, and/opioids. Most patients, however, only receive partial benefit from these treatments. Or they aren’t able to tolerate them. And opioids have become particularly problematic.
As such, the newest survey demonstrating marijuana’s efficacy for treating neuropathic pain is welcome news.
The Survey Regarding Marijuana For Neuropathy
NuggMD is a company that connects patients to doctors for medical cannabis recommendations. For this study, the company surveyed 603 patients for whom treating neuropathy pain was their primary or secondary reason for using cannabis. They asked patients to rate their pain levels on a scale from one to ten both before and after using marijuana.
The average level before use was 7.64. After use the average dropped to 3.44. That’s an overall pain relief level of 4.2. Opioids mixed with acetaminophen come in at 4.4, ibuprofen with acetaminophen was 4.3, codeine and acetaminophen was 3.9 and hydrocodone and acetaminophen was 3.5.
Given this, it appears that marijuana is just as effective at treating neuropathy symptoms as opioids are. So how come recent studies didn’t bear out these same results?
It Comes Down To More THC
This wasn’t the first study of its sort. What made it unique, however, was the percentage of THC used. Doctors who prescribe medical marijuana for neuropathy pain recommend a higher potency cannabis with at last 20% THC.
For a long time, this sort of study was not possible. The fact that marijuana is STILL considered a Schedule I drug has systematically stymied research into the risks and benefits of cannabis. As such, past studies could only use federally-approved “research-grade” cannabis whose chemical profile more closely matched industrial hemp. That means, very little THC.
Those days have come to an end though. As cannabis slowly creeps toward become federally legal, the DEA recently approved additional manufacturers to grow a more diverse array of marijuana varieties for use in studies. at monopoly on marijuana cultivation for research was recently broken as DEA approved additional manufacturers to grow a more diverse array of cannabis varieties.
It’s a good thing too.
Because more patients who opt for cannabis over other treatments said they would rather take nothing and tolerate the symptoms (128) than use opioids (112) if medical marijuana was not available.
That’s saying a lot.
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