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CBD and Neuropathy: Almost Magical Pain Relief Benefits

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This post was last updated on 9/10/2018.

Burning fingertips, sensations of walking on glass, and sleepless nights. Living with neuropathic pain is no way to live at all.

Yet thousands of people like you and me have to deal with, largely unpredictable, bursts of pain.

You’re not alone if you feel like your whole life is governed by pain. This post will give a brief overview of the prevalence of this class of pain as well as the causes before going into the evidence indicating the cannabinoid CBD can be effective in treating neuropathic pain of all kinds and causes.

After that, we’ll talk about how to use CBD oil for neuropathic pain, as well as other product options (including which products to pick and where to get them). But first let’s get a lay of the land.

A World of Pain

Chronic pain has become an epidemic, especially as the Boomer generation approaches old age. For example, in Europe, chronic pain effects 1 in 4 elderly people.3

In Australia, this epidemic is of massive proportions, extending to over half of the elderly population, and as high as 80% of patients in nursing homes.4

In the US, responses to an ABC News poll indicate that as many as 38 million adults in the US deal with chronic pain on a daily basis, and as many as 12 million US citizens have used cannabis to help alleviate this pain.

To this point, the available medications for attempting to treat this pain are limited to anti-steroidals, opiates, and anti-depressants – all hardcore drugs with harsh side effects of their own, and limited effectiveness. It’s almost as though the patient is trading a half-cure for being put on even more drugs to deal with the debilitating side effects. My opinion here, but this system seems broken.

What Causes Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy has many causes. At its core, it is nerve damage due to either chronic inflammation in the body or sudden trauma. Inflammation is your body’s natural response triggered by incoming stimuli that is perceived to be a threat to your body.

Neuropathy symptoms can arise due to inflammation related to:

  • Alcoholism: nutrient deficiencies, stress, excess estrogen, and liver complications
  • Autoimmune diseases: these typically develop due to chronic inflammation that goes unaddressed
  • Diabetes: a vast majority of diabetics develop neuropathy
  • Exposure to toxins: environmental toxins, pesticides, plastic polymers, and other endocrine disrupting chemicals can cause inflammation in the body
  • Nutrient deficiencies: key micronutrients are needed for proper nervous system health, namely B vitamins, antioxidants like Vitamin E and C, and minerals like the electrolytes Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium, and Potassium
  • Trauma: accidents or traumatic injury can cause nerve damage that leads to neuropathy

These are just a few of many potential causes of neuropathy, albeit the most statistically common.

CBD and Neuropathy: The Research & Advancements

An oromucosal spray named Sativex was approved back in 2005 by the Canadian government for use in treating neuropathy.5 While Sativex itself is a brand name and must be obtained with a prescription, the important thing to note is that it is essentially just a combination of THC and CBD, cannabidiol, not much different than just using a full spectrum hemp extract in combination with THC.

Let’s be real: it literally is just a full spectrum cannabis extract, extracted with ethanol, packaged up and branded by GW Pharmaceuticals. This is something you could buy yourself.

Sativex (THC + CBD) was found in multiple clinical trials to be extremely effective in controlling neuropathy pain in MS patients, as well as arthritis. It was later approved by the United States FDA in 2006 for trials to control cancer related neuropathy.

cbd and neuropathy

Historically, and quite ironically, Western understanding of the biological underpinnings of the pain system in the body was originally glimpsed through the lens of studying the plants cannabis, opium poppies, willow bark, and chile peppers. Out of the study of these plants – and the naturally effective medicine inherent in them – pharmaceutical companies formulated synthetic, highly addictive, drugs such as morphine, codeine, oxycontin.

Due to lack of commercial feasibility and patentability, pharmaceutical companies before the early 2000s hadnt’ made any endocannabinoid drug-derivatives.6 Cannabinoids, however, are very well known for their analgesic effect in controlling pain in humans.7 Ask any anesthesiologist and they will agree, activation of the CB1 receptor (cannabinoid receptor 1) will lead to almost immediate alleviation of pain and inflammation.8 This pain reduction can be seen in fibromyalgia patients when treated with cannabis910 and even in cases of intestinal pain with IBS.

Cannabinoids like CBD have been shown to alleviate this pain by also activating glycine receptors.11

This study found some really convincing evidence for this neuropathic pain control in rats.12 According to the researchers,

“The non-psychoactive compound, cannabidiol, or CBD, is the only component present at a high level in the extract able to bind to this receptor: thus cannabidiol was the compound responsible for the antinociceptive behavior observed.

A recent review by Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California compared the effectiveness of cannabis against tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentin, anticonvulsants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Cannabis was more effective than all except tricyclics at reducing neuropathy. 11

Cannabis as a treatment of neuropathic pain is one of the topics with the most substantive collection of studies in the medical literature behind it.12 This study also goes through the effective cannabinoids for neuropathic pain.12 And now, according to some researchers, cannabinoids hold the most potential for providing relief for thousands of sufferers, since nearly all pharmaceutical treatments fall short and have lead researchers to conclude that pharma “treatment options for neuropathic pain have limited efficacy and use is fraught with dose dependent adverse effects.”2

Due to Western medicine’s inability to formulate an effective treatment for neuropathy, many neuropathy sufferers are understandably turning to cannabis, namely hemp’s cannabidiol, as an alternative for pain management.

Treating Neuropathy with CBD

For a detailed guide about treating neuropathy with CBD, the kinds if neuropathy you may be experiencing, and recommended products shown to work against neuropathy for readers in the past, see our Neuropathy page.

CBD and Neuropathy: A Promising Future Ahead

In conclusion, CBD oil looks really promising for nerve pain and neuropathy patients. CBD is probably good alternative treatment for neuropathic pain. CBD may have the ability to lower pain which is linked to its potent effect as an antioxidant and ability to lower inflammation significantly, and quickly. In fact, when put head to head against the other well-known antioxidants alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) and ascorbate (Vitamin C), cannabidiol beat out both of them in effectiveness with regards to lowering glutamate toxicity in neurons.1

What have you got to lose? This also comes after a careful analysis of the clinical trials of Sativex, which just appears to be a full spectrum cannabis extract similar to the ones found on this page, in combination with THC.


Medical References

Hampson A, Grimaldi M, Lolic M, Wink D, Rosenthal R, Axelrod J. Neuroprotective antioxidants from marijuana. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;899:274-282. [PubMed]
Fine P, Rosenfeld M. Cannabinoids for neuropathic pain. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2014;18(10):451. [PubMed]
Frondini C, Lanfranchi G, Minardi M, Cucinotta D. Affective, behavior and cognitive disorders in the elderly with chronic musculoskelatal pain: the impact on an aging population. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2007;44 Suppl 1:167-171. [PubMed]
Gibson S. IASP global year against pain in older persons: highlighting the current status and future perspectives in geriatric pain. Expert Rev Neurother. 2007;7(6):627-635. [PubMed]
Russo E. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(1):245-259. [PubMed]
Pacher P, Bátkai S, Kunos G. The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol Rev. 2006;58(3):389-462. [PubMed]
Walker J, Huang S. Cannabinoid analgesia. Pharmacol Ther. 2002;95(2):127-135. [PubMed]
Richardson J, Kilo S, Hargreaves K. Cannabinoids reduce hyperalgesia and inflammation via interaction with peripheral CB1 receptors. Pain. 1998;75(1):111-119. [PubMed]
Schley M, Legler A, Skopp G, Schmelz M, Konrad C, Rukwied R. Delta-9-THC based monotherapy in fibromyalgia patients on experimentally induced pain, axon reflex flare, and pain relief. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006;22(7):1269-1276. [PubMed]
Massa F, Monory K. Endocannabinoids and the gastrointestinal tract. J Endocrinol Invest. 2006;29(3 Suppl):47-57. [PubMed]
Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012;209(6):1121-1134. [PubMed]
Comelli F, Giagnoni G, Bettoni I, Colleoni M, Costa B. Antihyperalgesic effect of a Cannabis sativa extract in a rat model of neuropathic pain: mechanisms involved. Phytother Res. 2008;22(8):1017-1024. [PubMed]
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Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker has a degree in Neuroscience from Duke University, and is the research writer for The Universal Plant. He has dedicated his life to helping men and women around the world educate themselves and take action to improve their health with natural plant-based and nutrient therapies. Follow him on Instagram @_christopherwalker

35 thoughts on “CBD and Neuropathy: Almost Magical Pain Relief Benefits”

  1. I live in CO and have tried so many strains of pot for my pain. All it did was give me anxiety. The pain was always still there. Pot like any other drug, works for some and not for others. It is not a magic pill.

    1. Depends on what form you get too. Many greedy people are selling diluted forms of CBD oil to make more $$$$. I use a form that is super concentrated and comes in a syringe in paste form. It works!! This is where I get mine:

    2. CBD oil is not pot. THC and CBD work very differently in the body. I suggest you go back and re-read the article, carefully, this was quite clear.

  2. I’ve had idiopathic peripheral neuropathy for close to 10 years. Mobility and balance problems coupled with numbness which started in my toes and has now reached my-calf in both legs. Until
    recently, thank God, no pain. In the last couple of months I have developed full–body pain at night, making sleep very difficult. I have been using CBD oil for anxiety for about a yrar now, with generally good results. Decided a couple of weeks ago to give it a try for this pain. The results have been extraordinary. Rapid relief that lasts all night long!
    I am a true believer!

    1. Thank you for the information. My mother has neuropathy below the knee, she is numb in those areas.
      I am not sure where to buy CBD oil but will check around. I’m not sure if this is available here in Chicago, IL.

      1. Chen Sue. I had suffered from nueropathy for over ten years. I recently (last 6 weeks) began supplementing with CBD oil. My results have been nothing short of a miracle!!! I am a true believer in cbd oil. You just have to really pay attention to what kind you get. I get a brand made by Hempworx. It is the world’s purest form of cbd oil. No fillers, no water, no carrier oils or anything else in it. This is where I get mine, and I hope it’s OK that I post this here. Wishing you much success, and relief in trying it. Donna

    2. if you were already taking cbd for a year, why did it not help with your pain? how much, what kind, and when do you take it? I need pain relief and am confused with all that is out there.

    3. Hi Jennifer
      I am happy for you getting some relief for your neuropathic foot pain .
      I was wondering what type of CBD oil you used and how come you didn’t noticed it’s pain relief effects while you where using it for anxiety ?
      I am suffering PN in feet at 68 for about 10 years and trying to grow my own plants for meds
      any suggestion on suiting strain(s) for my case would be appreciated.

  3. My 75 yr. old sister is suffering from neuropathy of both legs due to diabetes and brain surgery 3 yrs. ago. She is in agony 24 hrs. a day with no relief provided from her doctors. Cannot walk without a walker which is painful with every step. She also suffers from alien hand syndrome which involves violent and painful epoleptic like attacks weekly. Can you provide us with more information directly related to these two symptoms? It drives me to tears to watch her struggle with these ailments!

  4. Hello Christopher, I was wondering if Sativex would be helpful for my mother, from what I read in your blog I feel like she has developed neuropathy, she is a diabetic and shes explained to me that she feels pain in her legs like a burning sensation. Shes also been telling me that over the counter pills like Tylenol and Advil dont work for her. Her doctor is currently prescribing her medication for this, but I would rather her take a natural product than to keep taking those damn pills anymore. I appreciate your information on this blog it was very helpful.

  5. Has this product been helpful in the treatment of neuropathy numbness?

    1. I don’t have neuropathy pain, I have neuropathy numbness in my feet. So, I’m interested in knowing if this product has been successful in the treatment of neuropathy numbness.

  6. To Whom it May Concern,

    I was wondering what type of CBD cream would be recommended for Diabetic Foot Pain?

    I would like to avoid THC in this cream as well.


  7. Trying to get a cbd capsule for my husband’s neuropathy. It was recommended by a relative that uses it for his pain and said it did wonders for him. Thank you

  8. How long until you start to feel/notice a difference? Was it significant or minimal?

  9. Are any clinical trials running in UK? I had a SCI in 2007 which has left me disabled with chronic neuropathic pain. I’m prescribed opiates yet still live with pain. I’ve used CBD oils with good effect but it’s strength and cost means I can’t completely come off the opiates. Any trials out there?
    A Edwards

  10. I contracted polio in 1953. Now suffering with Post Polio Syndrome. Pain, fatigue and muscle loss, amongst general ill health. I’m on Longtec 10mg modified-release tablets x2 per day. Naproxen 500mg x2 a day
    Oxycodone 5mg/5ml, 10ml x2 a day as needed for breakthrough pain. And Paracetamol. These are just my pain meds. I’d really like to cut down / out these if possible. I did occasionally smoke cannabis for pain relief, some years back. I’m wondering if you could advise me on what CBD I would need and how to use it. Which medication should I cut down /out first ect.

  11. How does this work with diabetic neuropathy?, Numbness and pins and needles pain that is often severe in the feet and numbness in the hands. Numbness extends from the feet to the waist.

  12. Hello,
    I have a constant itch in the middle of my back and it is my spine that feels like it is itching. I looked it up and it show something called Notalgia Paraesthetica, I have the symptoms of this, but my doctor does not know what it could be because I have no rash. Do you think a CBD lotion would help this? I have tried all kinds of lotions and I am looking into acupuncture now. Any info would help.
    Thank you

  13. My questions are mostly the same as above. Do they get answered? Or do they get answered privately. Wonderful article!
    Thank you.

  14. Just stroked, this past year. Doin’ Real good, but these, weired pains & sensations. Getting some extreme. Glad is not my imagination!

  15. Doe`s anyone know which CBD is the best to buy? There are a lots on the market today.

    1. Larry….after tons and tons of research I have found what is known as the world’s purest cbd oil. They use a CO2 extraction method and use the entire hemp plant. There are no fillers, no carrier oils, no extra vitamins, no alcohol, just pure cbd oil. I have been using it for a little over 6 weeks and cannot believe the difference!!! My nueropathy went away almost immediately. It also has a full, empty bottle, 30 day refund if you are not completely satisfied with the results. I would suggest giving it a try :). Best of luck to you, Donna

    1. Hey Dan! Thanks for reaching out. CBD is indeed legal in NJ as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. The best option is to buy it online, but you can sometimes find it in local shops. You’ll be hard pressed to find it in any big store, but sometimes local vitamin shops, corner stores, and even 7-11’s will carry CBD oil. Easiest thing to do though would be go get it online. We’ve got some recommendations on this page:
      Hope that helps!

  16. Mindfulness helps enhance a person’s ability to respond positively even to challenging circumstances, instead of reacting negatively.

    Being mindful is about making the effort to focus and consider your actions to start with.
    This enables you to think more clearly, and to learn ways to behave in more positive ways.

  17. Hi
    I am 68, suffering from PN in feet for about 10 years, the only hope left is may be taking CBD
    Since I have no access to CBD products in Iran, I have decided to grow my own CBD strain here.
    Any suggestions in picking the right strain to grow ?

    1. Hi Rahim! I’m sorry for your peripheral neuropathy in your feet. The best strains for you will be strains that are high in CBD. Strains with high concentrations of CBD include Harlequin, Cannatonic, and ACDC/Charlottes Web. I know getting things shipped to Iran can be hard, but do you have the option of buying online?

  18. The best way to learn mindfulness is to take
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