Research on the use of CBD in the treatment of a plethora of ailments has intensified recently following its legalization. Promising results have contributed to the increasing use of CBD in treating anxiety, insomnia, acne, depression, and pain. A vast array of CBD products are now in the market, including pure CBD cream, gummies, CBD oil, vapes, etc. But could CBD be effective on nerve pain? Read on to find out.
What is Nerve Pain?
Nerve pain is commonly known as neuropathy, and it’s a chronic condition that affects the nervous system, resulting in patients experiencing excruciating pain. It occurs due to nerve damage, which can occur naturally or through external forces.
Natural nerve damage can be caused by autoimmune diseases, or white blood cells being unable to differentiate between self-antigens and foreign antigens, hence perceiving all antigens as enemies and attacking them. Other natural causes include hypothyroidism (low production of thyroid hormones) and inflammatory conditions like vasculitis. Induced causes of nerve damage include chronic consumption of alcohol, infections like shingles, diabetes, and nutrient deficiency.
Neuropathy symptoms include numbness in extremities, burning sensation in arms, hands, or legs, and tingling pain in your body. There is no single cure for neuropathy. At times medical practitioners can’t pinpoint the exact cause of nerve degeneration. In such conditions, the treatment is palliative care, in which its rationale is to reduce the symptoms experienced by patients and make them as comfortable as possible.
When the cause of nerve degeneration is known, as for diabetes, chronic alcohol consumption, viral infection like shingles, or inflammation, the root cause is targeted.
The ABCs of CBD
CBD, commonly known as cannabidiol, is one of the multiple chemicals obtained from the hemp plant or cannabis plant. The mention of cannabis raises the question of the intoxicating effects associated with it. However, CBD does not cause any psychoactive effects to its users. Instead, it’s the close cousin THC that brings about the euphoric feeling of cannabis. CBD from hemp is legal since it has traces of THC less than 0.3%.
CBD oil has been touted as a suitable substitution therapy for the existing medication of anxiety and depression, epilepsy, insomnia, and acne. Could it, however, help in nerve pain?
How CBD Can Alleviate Nerve Pain
At times, the medication used to alleviate pain fails to work, forcing individuals to seek alternative options. Could CBD be the answer to the question that many have posed regarding neuropathic pain? To understand, this let’s begin with understanding CBD’s effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The Endocannabinoid System
Scientists have recently discovered the existence of a regulatory system that helps maintain homeostasis. This is the endocannabinoid system composed of two components.
The Cannabinoid Receptors
These receptors are the gateways through which hormones enact their effects in the body. The cannabinoid receptors are categorized into cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are primarily spread through the brain and spinal cord, while the CB2 are spread across the extremities, including skin, arms, immune cells, etc.
The body produces cannabinoids that help maintain certain physiological functions like sleep, mood, anxiety, etc. Release of the endocannabinoids is on-demand, meaning when the body senses inflammation, or the need to return to steady-state, it will produce the cannabinoids to attach to receptors and trigger the appropriate effect.
When neuropathic patients use CBD products, it triggers the endocannabinoid system that influences the alleviation of pain due to its ability to control the brain to return to the body’s natural steady state.
CBD Trigger Production of Pain-relieving Mediators
A recent study shows cannabinoid’s ability to influence the production of anandamide. Anandamide is a compound associated with regulating pain by reducing the perception of pain by the brain thus relieving pain in neuropathic patients.
Reduction of Pain Signals
Cannabinoids can attune the excruciating nerve pain by blocking the release of neurotransmitters in the synapse( nerve junction). As a result, the pain transmission does not move from one nerve to the other hence the signals don’t get to the perception centers in the brain. It can also stimulate the reuptake of neurotransmitters from the synapse to reduce the pain and inhibit it altogether.
Inflammatory diseases, including multiple sclerosis, are a direct cause of nerve pain. They cause the inflammation of nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in nerve pain. A recent study suggests that the anti-inflammation properties of CBD help in alleviating pain. CBD causes a decrease of pro-inflammatory cells by preventing the accumulation of white blood cells on the site of trauma hence preventing inflammation. It also regulates the release of pro-inflammatory proteins like cytokines preventing further inflammation.
Why Choose CBD?
Many pain-relieving drugs are available but most come with the burden of adverse side effects. CBD, however, is a natural treatment alternative that currently shows mild and temporary side effects like dry mouth and drowsiness. CBD also has zero potential for physical dependence and tolerance, unlike other pain-relieving drugs.
CBD has shown great potential in the treatment of nerve pain with little to no side effects. However, intensive research is required to discover more benefits of CBD as well as the possible long-term side effects. For this reason, patients are advised to consult the doctor before purchasing CBD products for treating nerve pain.