As medical cannabis products have become more popular, people are turning to them to treat everything from anxiety to depression to chronic pain. Individuals who are suffering from neuropathy may show interest in trying CBD oil.
What Is CBD?
CBD comes from a plant that is part of the Cannabaceae family. This plant family consists of three species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis ruderalis, and Cannabis indica. Both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant are varieties of the cannabis plant. The marijuana plant generally has higher levels of THC. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets users “high” than the hemp plant. Many CBD products for health and wellness come from hemp. Medical marijuana, however, comes from the marijuana plant. These products are useful in helping to treat a variety of health conditions, including neuropathy.
Many people believe that cannabis products can make them “high,” but this is not entirely accurate. Only tetrahydrocannabinol can make a user “high.” CBD products from reputable companies meet the legal limit of having less than 0.3 percent of THC in them. These trace amounts are not enough to get an individual “high.” However, people who have to take routine drug tests at work may wish to avoid products containing any level of THC because there is a possibility this cannabinoid could lead to a false positive for marijuana. Products that are labeled as CBD isolate contain only cannabidiol and will not show up on a drug test.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathic pain happens when nerves that carry signals from the spinal cord and the brain are damaged. These nerves are called peripheral nerves, and they connect systems such as the skin, organs, and muscles to the brain and spinal cord. When one of these nerves is damaged, it can cause neuropathic pain, which can generally be traced to a specific area of the body.
- Peripheral Neuropathy – When the nerves outside of the brain and spine are affected, nerves in the extremities are affected. Peripheral neuropathy affects the toes, fingers, hands, feet, arms, and legs.
- Autonomic Neuropathy – This happens when nerves in the involuntary nervous system have been damaged. Nerves in the involuntary nervous system control functions such as breathing, heartbeat, digestion, and the bladder.
- Cranial Neuropathy – This type of neuropathy happens when the nerves coming from the brain are damaged. This may cause problems in the eyes or ears or both.
- Focal Neuropathy – When only one area of the body is affected, it is known as focal neuropathy.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Depending on the type of neuropathy, a person may experience a variety of different symptoms. Some people may not have any symptoms, but there are generally a few common symptoms people will have.
Because it is common for the sensory nerves to become damaged, individuals may experience numbness or tingling in their extremities, especially in the feet. As this medical condition progresses, the numbness may move toward the center of the body. Numbness in the feet means that blisters or cuts may not be noticed until the individual sees signs of infection.
Another way that sensory nerve damage can affect the individual is that their reduced sense of touch can cause them to fall more often because it affects their sense of balance. A normal stimulus can also cause pain.
If the motor nerves are affected, the individual may notice that they are weaker than usual, do not have strong reflexes, have cramps, and are not as handy. This condition can affect the quality of life if the motor nerves have been affected.
If the autonomic nerves have been damaged, the neuropathy can cause other symptoms such as excessive sweating, problems with the gastrointestinal system, and problems with the person’s blood pressure.
Causes of Neuropathy
Several different factors may cause neuropathy. These include diabetes, kidney problems, liver disorders, and blood problems. When a person is not eating a balanced diet, he or she may also be at a higher risk of developing neuropathy.
People who have autoimmune diseases, where the body’s immune system attacks tissues, may also develop this condition. This is because these diseases can cause damage to the nerves. Some of these types of disorders include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Treatment Options for Neuropathy
The best treatment for neuropathy depends on what initially caused the condition. Generally, the condition that caused the neuropathy cannot be cured entirely, several treatments can help can help with the symptoms.
Often, treatment involves managing the pain caused by this condition. A doctor may prescribe a patient antidepressant medication or anticonvulsant medication. The doctor may also use creams or injections to help with the pain.
Other times, the treatment for neuropathy will involve braces for the hands or feet, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), or even surgery in the most severe cases. However, all of these treatments can come with their own set of problems. That is why many patients have shown interest in trying a more natural approach to treating the symptoms of this condition.
How CBD Oil Can Help
While CBD cannot cure neuropathy, it is known for its pain-relieving effects. Understanding how it works with the body can help in understanding how it affects pain.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD oil can help because it works with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis or balance in the body. This system produces cannabinoids that bind to the CB2 and CB1 receptors. The CB1 receptors work with the central nervous system, while the CB2 receptors work with the peripheral nervous system.
These receptors help the ECS regulate everything in the body from sleep to mood to pain to inflammation. This system helps the rest of the body’s systems work together in harmony. CBD allows the ECS to work better.
Several studies show that CBD oil can be used to treat chronic pain. It helps with pain management by targeting glycine receptors in the spine, which help regulate receptors for pain. It can also help regulate the way the brain responds to pain, offering the individual pain relief.
CBD can be better than over-the-counter and prescription medications for some individuals because it does not have as many undesirable effects as these medications. It also does not build up in the individual’s system like another pain medication might.
Other Health Benefits of CBD
CBD oil also offers a few general benefits that may help people struggling with nerve pain. Because of the pain caused by nerve damage, a person may have trouble falling asleep during the night. CBD can help individuals sleep soundly and more restfully.
Individuals suffering from neuropathy may also be feeling stressed or anxious about their condition because often, it cannot be treated completely. They may even feel depressed because of the pain they experience every day. The good news is that CBD can also help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.
This substance is also known for being anti-inflammatory. Some types of neuropathies are caused by inflammation, and CBD can help calm the inflammation.
Dosage of CBD
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved cannabidiol as a supplement, so there are no official guidelines on the right dose of CBD. A number of factors determine the correct dose for an individual, including body weight, how much CBD is in each product, and the desired results. Individuals who are using CBD to support overall health, for example, will take low doses, while individuals who are treating severe pain will take higher doses.
An individual’s doctor can provide a recommendation for a good starting point for the proper CBD dose. However, if the doctor does not give a suggestion, a thin individual may choose to start with around 11 mg for general health, while a heavier individual may choose to begin with about 23 mg. For more severe health problems, an individual may decide to start with 15 to 17 mg, while the heavier individual may choose to start with 31 to 45 mg of CBD.
Side Effects of CBD
While CBD oil is safe generally, some individuals may experience some minor side effects.
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss
- Lower blood pressure
Individuals with health conditions should always check with their doctors before using CBD oil or any other type of supplement. In addition, anyone who is taking prescription medications should check with their doctors before taking CBD oil. CBD can change the way the body metabolizes medications, meaning they may stay in the body longer than they usually do.
While neuropathy can wreak havoc on the nerves, CBD oil can help people manage their neuropathic pain. It can often be better than more traditional medications because it is not intoxicating, and it does not have as many undesirable effects as prescription medications.
Additional clinical trials will determine the oil’s long-term effects and the activity of this part of the cannabis plant. Individuals who want to take CBD for their different types of pain should consult with their doctors first.