Nerve pain caused by neuropathy (damaged nerve cells) is widespread with over 20 million in the US alone suffering from conditions. There are three main types of nerve in the body:
- sensory nerves that govern our senses
- motor nerves that regulate our muscles
- autonomic nerves that control our internal organs
When all or any of these kinds of nerves suffer damage, neuropathic pain can occur. As many of you know, this type of pain may have episodic components that can resemble stabbings or electric shocks or continuous qualities include burning or coldness, "pins and needles" sensations, numbness and itching.
Much of the time, the first line medications that are prescribed today to manage the pain that stems from these conditions are Opioids such as Percocet or Vicodin. The problem is that these synthetic painkillers are known for causing side effects and are highly addictive that can make them unsafe for long-term use. On the other hand, alternative pain treatments like CBD (cannabidiol) have shown a promise for people with nerve pain and many other conditions. One of the main benefits of using CBD to combat nerve pain is the fact that it doesn’t cause the same dependency that people get from using prescribed opioids. It is only recently the medical sector has acknowledged its use as a legitimate treatment for a variety of ailments including chronic pain.
Let’s dive into it.
How does CBD reduce pain?
Until the 1990’s, medical science knew very little about the endocannabinoid system and how CBD attaches itself to brain receptors to carry out their effects in the body. We have since learned that CBD, which contains no psychoactive effect, attaches to CB2 receptors that exist all over your body. When CBD attaches to these CB2 receptors, it activates many of the pathways that ease pain, and this can go a long way towards helping to manage many long-term conditions where pain is a struggle that people must live with day-to-day.
One study in 2007 that did a holistic review of the research to date on CBD and pain showed that of the 298 participants who used CBD to treat neuropathic pain versus taking a placebo concluded there was a statistically significant decrease in subject pain score on a scale of 1-11.
What are the specific use cases for why CBD may help manage nerve pain?
First, CBD can help your muscles relax when applied as a topical or taken orally. When muscles relax, it becomes easier to move and you can free yourself up for activity if suffering from nerve pain, or just help you cope with tense muscles throughout the day. This is important for people with nerve pain who still want to exercise or do things like running, which often is painful initially, but once you get moving the pain starts to subside.
Second, CBD can help with sleeping. We have written a lot about insomnia and the impact of CBD and sleeping, but most people with nerve pain have trouble sleeping because the nerves are engaged in a fight-or-flight state, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. CBD has neuroprotective properties that encourage rest and improve sleep, and with improved sleep comes improved overall health.
Third, CBD targets neurons in the nervous system that are responsible for transmitting pain signals through regions of the brain and the spinal column, and patients with spinal stenosis have experienced more calming of their nerve pain by taking CBD.
Finally, CBD can help reduce inflammation, which is a major cause of nerve pain. When soft tissue and other material in the body become inflamed they can disrupt nerve pathways and create the nerve pain sensations that we want to avoid. By minimizing inflammation, you can start to minimize nerve pain.
More medical studies are coming out daily for the uses and results of taking CBD with conditions like nerve pain. If interested in digging in more, a list of medical research and studies on neuropathy and CBD can be found at ProjectCBD. However, don’t just take the medical world’s slow-moving guidance on this stuff. The world renown Mayo Clinic actually has a message board for CBD and neuropathy where you can find many different users and use cases where CBD has helped people manage nerve pain.
If in need of more guidance on what CBD to take, and more direction on a specific dosage based on your body characteristics, type of nerve pain, and level of intensity of the condition visit the Relief Scout questionnaire for a free customized recommendation.