Article by Psychedelic Times
I was recently reading through the comment section on a University of Glasgow study that indicated that cannabis can help people manage pain from peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that causes pain in the extremities of the body, and I saw some interesting stories.
One man shared his experience using the diabetes medication Lyrica — he noted that it made him feel numb, and that he had lost all sensation in his body after taking it. Another man with idiopathic neuropathy, who’d been managing pain in his calves and feet for over twenty years, had been prescribed Lyrica for ten of them. While he had already decreased his dosage in the recent years with the help of a MedTronics unit, he wanted to stop the medication completely because of its side effects and so was interested in other options. Another woman explained that she just didn’t want to take prescription pain medication because she was worried about getting addicted.
While their concerns varied, what unified the people in the comments was their desire to find another solution, and this particular study was providing an alternative: cannabis. Cannabis has been shown to relieve many types of pain, but several studies in the last decade have focused specifically on the different roles that THC and CBD may play in treating the particular pain caused by neuropathy. While the exact mechanics are unknown, it seems like both these cannabinoids have an important part to play in helping people live without crippling pain.
How Cannabis Can Help Manage Pain
There have been several studies that show cannabis’ efficacy at treating and reducing pain, including a 2007 study published in Neurology that showed its ability to treat neuropathic pain associated with HIV. However, this cannabis research has mostly focused on delta-9-THC, the cannabinoid responsible for cannabis’ psychoactive high. But now we’re understanding that the cannabinoid CBD plays just as large a role in the treatment of pain as THC.
Cannabis produces a much higher ratio of THC to CBD, but when cannabis is refined into oil, individual cannabinoids like THC and CBD can be isolated. We know that both THC and CBD play a role in relieving pain, and we also know that THC works better with CBD than without. However, researchers are still looking into the mechanism of how exactly this works. One line of inquiry notes that the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (which is related to several functions including appetite, memory, pain, and mood) runs parallel in some respects to the endorphin system, which has a well-established role in pain management. Researchers from the Neurology study on HIV-associated neuropathy offered another idea, pointing out that the reduction in pain from using cannabis could be attributed to relaxation or the psychedelic high.
Regardless of how exactly it works, the continuously growing number of studies and anecdotal accounts of people who get relief from peripheral neuropathy by using cannabis — whether by smoking, vaporizing, ingesting, or using an oral spray like in the University of Glasgow study — suggests that cannabis and its main ingredients can play a major role in pain management.