Scientific Proof: Medical Cannabis Relieves Painful Neuropathy

Patients use medical cannabis to treat many conditions and diseases, including neuropathy, which is weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet, caused by damage to the peripheral nerves.

Until recently, evidence that medical cannabis relieved neuropathic pain was primarily anecdotal. Now there’s scientific evidence: In July 2015, the American Pain Society reported in The Journal of Pain that inhaled cannabis, does in fact, reduce pain from diabetic neuropathy, the most common form of the disease. While this is important news, it’s even more important that the medical world is finally paying attention. Scientists across the globe are realizing that medical cannabis provides pain relief, and the more they learn, the better they’ll be able to treat their patients. Dr. David Casarett, Professor of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Director of Hospice and Palliative Care at University of Pennsylvania Health System, is a case in point.

For years, Casarett was skeptical about using marijuana for pain relief. When patients asked, his standard response was that science didn’t support the claim. His patients persisted, however, and Casarett decided to study the subject. What he found was so compelling he wrote a book: Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana.

Terry Gross, from NPR’s Fresh Air program, talked with Casarett about his experience. According to NPR, Casarett  “…examined the limited medical studies related to the drug’s use, traveled to places where it is being used legally and tested it on himself. He also spoke to patients who had used the drug to treat a variety of ailments, including seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder and neuropathic pain.”

What did he discover? That medical marijuana alleviates all sorts of pain, especially hard-to-treat neuropathy.  During his Fresh Air interview, Casarett said:

“It turns out that some of the best evidence for medical marijuana is actually for what’s called neuropathic pain, which is pain that’s caused by the nerves themselves. So unlike pain that’s caused by arthritis…neuropathic pain is caused by disruption of or damage to the nerves themselves.”

He continued:

“… That kind of pain can be really, really difficult to treat. … In my experience as a palliative care physician, it doesn’t respond nearly as well as more traditional nociceptive pain does to drugs like morphine. So there really is a need to find newer, better treatments for neuropathic pain. And so there have been a lot of trials focusing on medical marijuana for neuropathic pain, because other alternatives for treatment are really pretty limited.”

Casarett referred to an anesthesiologist and pain researcher who is becoming increasingly convinced that CBD, not THC, may be responsible for relieving at least some of patients’ neuropathic pain. This pain researcher is conducting clinical trials with lower and lower amounts of THC and higher and higher amounts of CBD, and he’s finding consistent pain relief. For patients who don’t want to get high, this finding is very good news.

That said, if you ask different patients which medical cannabis strains best relieve their neuropathic pain, you’d get different answers. Most evidence supports starting with a balanced THC:CBD hybrid. Vaporizing the medicine is the preferable treatment, although smoking also provides quick relief. In addition, topical salves may provide a measure of comfort.  

In summary, if you’re suffering from neuropathic pain, medical cannabis may provide the pain relief you’re looking for. We hope you’ll come in to our dispensary and talk with a Patient Advisor about the best strains and products for your particular situation.

As always, Harvest’s medical cannabis professionals are here for you, advocating for and working to deliver the pain relief you so deserve.  Here’s to science, medical cannabis, and a future with less pain.

This information is for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES only, not for diagnosing or treating any medical condition.