Pain is something all of us have experienced at some point in our lives. But nerve pain is something millions have to live with every day. An estimated 20.4 percent of U.S. adults (50 million) had chronic pain and 8 percent (19.6 million) had high-impact chronic pain, according to a 2016 National Health Interview Survey.
The painkiller industry is a $300 billion industry that includes everything from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to opiates. But could a more natural option like CBD oil help with lessening nerve pain? There are promising studies that found CBD for nerve pain could actually be effective.
CBD for Nerve Pain at a Glance
Claim: CBD can help relieve nerve pain
What the research shows: Studies about using CBD for nerve pain have so far mostly been done on mice and rats, but not yet in a significant way in humans. However, research has shown that CBD can affect the way the brain processes pain and that it could lead to possibly using CBD oil to help humans manage their pain.
All the facts: Not enough research has been done on subjects to determine whether using CBD for nerve pain is a viable option. However, early studies conducted on animals have shown promising results
People have been using the cannabis plant for centuries due to its therapeutic and psychotropic properties. It was widely used as an analgesic in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, it was claimed to be the best remedy for a migraine headache, according to research published in the Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry journal.
The plant has about 120 compounds, the main ones known as THC, the component that gives you a “high,” and CBD, a non-psychoactive component. They interact with internal cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, which is why the plant has such an effect on our nervous system.
About Nerve Pain
Neuropathic pain, or nerve pain, in an intense type of chronic pain that can be described as burning, stinging or sharp pain. The pain can be constant or come in surges. It’s caused by a problem in the nervous system or damage to the nerves.
Many things can cause nerve pain. It could come as a result of a disease like Guillain-Barré syndrome, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or alcoholism. It can even be caused by medication, like chemotherapy, and some causes are still unknown.
Treatment for nerve pain, aside from treating the underlying cause, has been the use of painkillers to mitigate pain. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the over-the-counter options, is the most common. But their side-effects include stomach pain, stomach ulcers, allergic reactions, and liver and kidney problems. Opioids have also been used fairly commonly to treat pain, but they cause severe dependency and their side-effects are much worse and can lead to death if used in high doses.
Using CBD for Nerve Pin
As mentioned above, CBD for nerve pain works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. The body reacts to CBD when it links up with natural cannabinoid receptors, which modulates pain perception.
“Nowadays, there is considerable evidence for cannabinoid analgesia in various animal models of pain, including acute antinociceptive, inflammatory and neuropathic pain,” wrote Goya, Jagerovic, Hernandez-Folgado and Martin in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry.
So far, much of the research done in this area has been on mice and rats, however, people are already using CBD oil to treat their nerve pain.
For example, Chris Trout posted on a Mayo Clinic forum on CBD for nerve pain that she has been using topical CBD oil to treat her pain and has seen results. “It is working very well on hands, wrists, and arms,” wrote Trout. “I also use it on my Myofascial knee problem.”
Brenda Reid wrote on the same forum that she used CBD oil for neuropathy in her feet and also for her plantar fasciitis. “It helps me greatly but isn’t a cure by any means,” wrote Reid. “But I’ll take it because the pain from my plantar fasciitis was great in my heels and now it’s tolerable.”
Research published in the journal Pain by Holly Philpott, Melissa O’Brien, and Jason McDougall found that rats with osteoarthritis that were treated with CBD had their pain lessened. They found that the prophylactic administration of CBD prevented the development of further joint pain and was also found to prevent nerve damage.
“These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating osteoarthritis joint neuropathic pain,” wrote Philpott, O’Brien, and McDougall.
Barbara Costa, Anna Trovato, Francesca Comelli, Gabriella Giagnoni, and Mariapia Colleoni said that there is a potential for therapeutic use of cannabidiol in chronic painful states. They investigated cannabidiol’s therapeutic potential for neuropathic and inflammatory pain in rats. They provided the rats with a daily oral treatment with cannabidiol for seven days after being injured and found, among other results, that it reduced hyperalgesia, an enhanced pain response. Their research was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.
“Cannabidiol, the major psycho-inactive component of cannabis, has substantial anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects,” wrote the authors.
Concerns and Side-Effects
CBD, the non-psychotropic component of the cannabis plants is already being used by humans to address everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety, inflammation, and sleeplessness. But there is always the potential for side-effects.
Because the FDA does not regulate the CBD oil industry, dosage can vary widely between CBD manufacturers. It’s important to ensure that you are getting your CBD from a quality source.
According to research by Kerstin Iffland and Franjo Grotenhermen published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, common side-effects of CBD use by humans were tiredness, diarrhea, and changes of appetite and weight. CBD can also interact with other drugs, so check with your doctor before trying CBD oil for nerve pain.
Studies on using CBD for nerve pain are still in their early stages, currently being tested on small mammals. There have been no meaningful studies of CBD for nerve pain in humans, however these early studies found a strong connection between the body’s capacity to process pain and the components of cannabis, like CBD oil.
With potentially 10 percent of the population suffering from nerve pain, CBD oil may one day become a way to help with managing nerve pain without the harsh side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opiates.