Does Hemp-Derived CBD Help Neuropathy?

Does Hemp-Derived CBD Help Neuropathy?

With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD was legalized. This landmark legislation opened the gates for CBD research and market expansion. It also allowed people suffering from various conditions to treat themselves as they see fit without fear of legal repercussions.

From fibromyalgia and sleep issues to Lyme disease and menstrual cramps, CBD has proven itself a powerful treatment for many ailments. Patients have found that CBD has worked to help mitigate their neuropathy symptoms, as well.


What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy, sometimes referred to as peripheral neuropathy, is a term used to describe nerve damage. It is not a standalone health condition but rather a cluster of symptoms that results from a range of illnesses such as diabetes or cancer, among others.

Peripheral neuropathy manifests when the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, or the peripheral nervous system, become damaged. Peripheral nervous system damage typically arises from autoimmune diseases, infections, traumatic injuries, tumors, metabolic issues, exposure to environmental toxins, and/or inherited disorders.


What are the Symptoms?

The peripheral nervous system is divided into two parts: the voluntary nervous system and the involuntary nervous system.

The voluntary, or somatic, nervous system is comprised of functions you consciously control like moving your arms or legs. In contrast, the involuntary, or autonomic, nervous system regulates processes beyond your conscious control like your heartbeat or breathing.

Neuropathy can impact both the voluntary and involuntary peripheral nervous systems. In addition, sensory nerves that control what you feel (e.g. pain, temperature, etc.) or motor nerves that control muscles and movement may be afflicted.

While the extremities are most commonly affected, peripheral neuropathy can involve other areas of the body, including the circulatory, digestive, and urinary systems. Symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Temporary or permanent numbness, prickling, or tingling sensations in the hands, arms, feet, and legs
  • Sharp, throbbing, jabbing, or burning pain
  • Muscle cramping, twitching, weakness, or wasting
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Loss of balance
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Heat intolerance
  • Excessive sweating or the inability to sweat
  • Dysfunction in organs or glands
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drops in blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Paralysis

Although neuropathy is irreversible, it can be managed with rigorous treatment and even prevented by taking precautionary measures.


How is it Treated?

Because neuropathy results from the exacerbation of a preexisting medical condition, treatment first focuses on treating that underlying issue. Treating neuropathy itself usually involves the use of pharmaceutical medications. This includes over-the-counter drugs such as:

  • Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil)
  • Naproxen (e.g. Aleve)
  • Topical anesthetics (e.g. lidocaine) or pain relievers (e.g. capsaicin)

More severe cases of neuropathy are often treated by use of prescription medications like:

  • Anti-seizure drugs (e.g. gabapentin)
  • Antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline)
  • COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. celecoxib)
  • Opioids (e.g. tramadol)

In addition to pharmaceuticals, neuropathy patients may also undergo surgery or neuromodulation, which involves placing an electrode along the affected peripheral nerve to turn off pain signals.


How can CBD Help?

Unfortunately, routine neuropathic treatments often come with nasty side effects and complications. Many seek out natural or alternative methods of treatment as a result.

One such treatment has recently gained popularity: CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound derived from the legal hemp plant. This cannabinoid is known for its versatility of applications. Additionally, CBD users typically experience little to no side effects from the treatment!


CBD Helps Alleviate Chronic Pain

CBD is often used to treat painful symptoms associated with a range of chronic illnesses, neuropathy included. Researchers believe that CBD mitigates pain by attaching to the CB2 receptor in the brain, which manages pain and inflammation. It interacts directly with the endocannabinoid receptors here to lessen painful sensations throughout the body.

A 2020 study concluded that the topical application of CBD significantly reduces intense and sharp pain in neuropathy patients. Researchers also found that the cannabinoid relieves cold and itchy sensations.


CBD May Help Prevent Seizures

Although neuropathy does not cause seizures, neuropathic pain is often treated with anti-seizure drugs. These medications target the body’s calcium channels, which control the transmission of peripheral nerve signals.

CBD works in a similar fashion. One study asserts that it modulates the calcium channels to alleviate painful nervous sensations as well as restore overall balance to neurotransmitters. While the mechanism by which CBD regulates calcium and other ionic channels is not yet entirely understood, it is thought that it and other cannabinoids interact directly with these channels via their lipid membranes.


CBD Combats Muscular Cramping and Wasting

Neuropathy often causes the peripheral muscles to cramp, twitch, weaken, and even waste. Because several studies find CBD to be a powerful multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment due to its ability to reduce severe spasticity, it is reasonable to assume that the compound may also reduce the muscular symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy.

CBD relieves muscle aches by targeting the neurotransmitters that trigger muscle contractions. With extended use, CBD builds up in the endocannabinoid system to relieve the continuous muscle contractions that lead to chronic tension and fatigue.

Although studies promulgating CBD as a treatment for neuropathy are limited, existing research is promising, and interest in the cannabinoid’s healing capabilities only continues to grow. As CBD’s mainstream appeal increases, we hope to gain a better understanding of how it reduces neuropathic symptoms and increases the quality of life of patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy.

time Jun 29, 2023

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