Self-reported results associated with a study involving hundreds of patients indicate medicinal cannabis has generally been beneficial for neuropathy patients – but potency and dosage matter.
Neuropathy is an umbrella term covering many conditions involving nerve damage that lead to pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in one or more parts of the body – often the hands and/or feet. Its impacts can be anything from mildly annoying to incapacitating, having a major impact on quality of life.
A recent survey by medical marijuana platform NuggMD involved 603 patients using cannabis for neuropathic pain. 248 patients were using cannabis as a primary treatment, while 355 said they used it as a secondary treatment.
On a 10-point scale, 520 (86.2%) of the respondents reported pain levels of over 6 before using medical cannabis. The average pain level before cannabis use was 7.64, while the average pain level after cannabis use was 3.44 – a significant drop. Of the patients who had pain levels of six or higher before using cannabis, 269 reported pain levels of three or below after.
As for those who didn’t experience benefits, 69 patients remained at a six or higher after using medicinal cannabis, 8 noted they had no relief and 7 reported increased pain levels. With regard to side effects, only 18 reported adverse reactions.
Commenting on the 4.2 point average reduction in pain, the company noted this is similar to the pain reduction experienced by individuals who use opiates; reported in a 2017 study.
While the consumption profile of patients varied wildly, the most constant variable noted was the use of high-potency cannabis with a THC content of 20% or more.
NuggMD says existing research regarding the use of cannabis for treating neuropathy tended to involve government-grown “low-quality cannabis” with low THC levels, have a focus on CBD, or involved isolated compounds and not full-spectrum products.
“This finding is important to note because much of the research on the efficacy of cannabis for pain typically involves cannabis products with a potency below 20% THC,” states the study report. “These research studies often result in claims that THC is ineffective for pain relief.”
On a related note, a study of University of New Mexico a few years back indicated full spectrum hemp oil, while low in THC, reduced mechanical pain sensitivity significantly for several hours in mice with chronic post-operative neuropathic pain.
As always with these sorts of studies, NuggMD notes further research is needed.
“While our report’s findings demonstrate that the use of cannabis at the right potency and dosage shows promise toward treating chronic pain conditions such as neuropathy, more research is needed to determine safety and efficacy,” state the authors.
The full study report can be accessed here.