Neuropathy, also referred to as peripheral neuropathy, is damage to the nerve(s) that results in numbness, pain, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected area(s). There are several causes of neuropathy including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heavy alcohol use, along with many other causes. However, it is most common in older adults. Treatment for neuropathy usually involves physical therapy paired with medication to reduce pain and increase nerve function. The following describes in more detail what neuropathy is, and the types of neuropathy along with new research that looks into CBD treatment for neuropathy.
What is Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which damage has been done to nerves in the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is a communication network that transfers information between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. Therefore, when the peripheral nervous system gets damaged, the central nervous system and the body can have a lot of trouble communicating with one another, resulting in many problems.
As mentioned earlier, there are many neuropathy causes, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heavy alcohol use. Other common causes are physical injuries, shingles, cancer, and HIV. However, many more conditions can cause nerve damage, resulting in neuropathy.
What are the Symptoms of Neuropathy?
There are several types of neuropathy, and the exact symptoms vary depending on what type of neuropathy an individual is affected with. However, there are some common symptoms including:
- Numbness, tingling, pain, and a burning sensation rising up from the toes and feet
- “Pins and needles”
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of sensitivity to feel heat and cold, or physical injury (hypoesthesia)
- Loss of balance
What are the Types of Neuropathy?
There are three types of neuropathy, and each one relates to the type of nerves damaged:
- Motor nerve: motor nerves carry information from your brain to your muscles. They tell your muscles when to contract to produce movement. One example of a motor nerve in action is when you swallow something, your brain is telling the muscles in your esophagus to contract.
- Sensory nerve: sensory nerves carry information from your five senses to your brain through the spinal cord. For example, they can inform your brain about what your keyboard feels like.
- Autonomic nerve: autonomic nerves control the involuntary processes in your body, in other words, they affect the processes in your body that you have no direct control over. For example, heart rate, breathing, digestion, etc.
Can CBD Help With Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy has been shown to seriously affect the quality of life among affected individuals. Many commonly used treatments for neuropathy have failed to significantly reduce symptoms in affected patients.
More recently, however, the use of cannabinoids, like CBD, has been studied, and evidence has surfaced for their role in the treatment of chronic pain reduction. In a 2020-2021 study conducted by Curr Pharm Biotechnology, the effect of CBD oil for the treatment of neuropathy symptom relief was studied. The name of the study is “The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities”, and its findings are summarized below.
29 patients with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy were enrolled in the study. 15 randomized patients were given treatment with 250 mg CBD/3 fl. oz, and the other 14 randomized patients were given placebos. Patients were scaled on their symptomatic pain from their neuropathy biweekly to determine the change from their baseline to the end of the treatment period.
The results revealed there was a significant reduction in sharp pain, intense pain, and cold and itchy sensations in the CBD group compared to the placebo group. Also, there were no adverse side-effects reported. Therefore they concluded that topical CBD oil application can help reduce the symptoms incurred from peripheral neuropathy.
This treatment may provide a better alternative than current, traditional neuropathy treatments for affected patients.
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