Can CBD Help in Treating Neuropathy?

Neuropathy, which is often called peripheral neuropathy, indicates a problem within the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is composed of nerves outside of the central nervous system, and is made up of the brain and spinal cord. When peripheral nerve cells, called neurons, become damaged or destroyed, neuropathy occurs disrupting the way the neurons communicate with each other and the brain. The resulting symptoms include burning, numbness, shooting pain, tingling and muscle weakness or atrophy.

Neuropathy is very common, with estimates that as many as 25 percent of Americans will suffer from the condition. While neuropathy can occur at any age, it mostly affects older people. About 8 percent of adults over 65 will suffer from neuropathy to some degree.[1]

Leading Causes

Other than advancing age, there are a number of factors that can cause neuropathy. Among the most common causes are: [2]

Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy. According to studies, neuropathy affects as many as two thirds of people with diabetes. Diabetic nerve pain occurs because high blood sugar levels damage nerves.

Trauma: Injuries from falls, car accidents, fractures, or sports activities.

Autoimmune disorders and infections: Guillain-Barré, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are some of the autoimmune diseases that can cause neuropathy. Infections include chickenpox, shingles, Lyme disease, West Nile virus and others.

Other health conditions: Neuropathy can result from kidney and liver disorders, myeloma, lymphoma, and tumors, both cancer and benign.

Abnormal vitamin levels: Proper vitamin levels of E, B1, B6, B12 and niacin are important for healthy functioning of nerves.

Alcoholism: Chronic alcoholism robs the body of thiamine and other essential nutrients needed for nerve function.

Treatment Options

While there are no treatments that can cure or reverse neuropathy, there are options to help keep it from getting worse and, too, alleviate the pain. Neuropathy treatment will depend on the cause. For example, in the case of diabetic neuropathy, the best management is control of blood sugar levels to prevent a worsening of the condition.

Neuropathy pain management includes:[3]

  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Prescribed pain medications, which may contain opioids
  • Topical treatments, such as lidocaine patches applied to skin may offer some relief
  • Anti-seizure medications may relieve nerve pain
  • Antidepressants have been found to interfere with chemical brain and spinal processes that cause one to feel pain.
  • Physical therapy can help improve muscle weakness
  • Surgeries to reduce pressure on nerves that may be caused by tumors, for example

Use of CBD as a Therapy

CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons. The ECS has CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain; CB2 receptors are mostly found in immune cells and in a few neurons.[4]

 

The ECS acts to restore balance whenever something happens with one of the body functions, such as appetite, sleep, immune response, and more. When CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor, it inhibits pain and inflammation. It also releases tension that causes anxiety.

 

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may be of help to neuropathy sufferers who frequently experience swelling and inflammation. Other therapeutic elements attributed to CBD, including pain-relief and a reduction in stress and anxiety, also may benefit those experiencing neuropathy. [5]

 

Research on CBD and Neuropathy

 A recent study[6] enlisted 29 neuropathy patients, with an average age of 68, allocating 15 to the CBD treatment group and 14 to a placebo group. The CBD treatment group received a topical CBD treatment containing 250 mg CBD/3 fl. ounces. After four weeks, the placebo group was allowed to crossover into the treatment group.

There was a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations in the CBD group when compared to the placebo group. No adverse events were reported in this study.

The researchers concluded that the transdermal application of CBD oil can achieve significant improvement in pain and other disturbing sensations in patients with peripheral n

 

[1] “Neuropathy,” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed January 15, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14737-neuropathy
[2] “Causes of Neuropathy,” Neuropathy Commons, Accessed January 15, 2022. https://neuropathycommons.org/neuropathy/causes-neuropathy
[3] “Peripheral Neuropathy,” May Clinic, Accessed January 15, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352067
[4] Mackie K. Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. J Neuroendocrinol. 2008 May;20 Suppl 1:10-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x. PMID: 18426493. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18426493/
[5] Baker, Dylan, “CBD for Neuropathy in Feed [Possible New Treatment?], Way of Leaf, March 3, 2020. https://wayofleaf.com/cbd/ailments/cbd-for-neuropathy-in-feet-possible-new-treatment
[6] Xu DH, Cullen BD, Tang M, Fang Y. The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(5):390-402. doi: 10.2174/1389201020666191202111534. PMID: 31793418. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31793418/