medical marijuana

Pain resulting from nerve damage can be unrelenting and extremely difficult to treat. When the trigeminal nerve is affected, it causes face pain that is capable of ruining a person’s quality of life. What are the options for easing this type of pain? One reader thought of an unorthodox solution.

Trying to Ease Recalcitrant Face Pain:

Q. I have a question regarding trigeminal neuralgia. My mother suffers from this very painful condition.

Carbamazepine is effective in stopping the pain but it has side effects that she doesn’t tolerate, even at low doses. Surgery is not an option for her.

Are there any other treatments that provide relief for the pain? I find myself wondering if medical marijuana might help because it has been noted to help with other types of nerve pain.

A. Trigeminal neuralgia is a disruption of the nerve to the face and head that causes intermittent excruciating pain. It may feel like an electric shock or a burning sensation that can last from seconds to several minutes. This pain can be disabling and is hard to treat, though some patients get relief from anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine.

Might Marijuana Help with Face Pain?

The possibility of using medical marijuana (in the form of cannabinoids) was suggested in a medical journal article (Current Drug Targets. CNS and Neurological Disorders, Dec. 2004).  Research in rats also indicates that cannabinoids might be helpful for easing the pain of trigeminal neuralgia (Neuropharmacology, July, 2007).

We have not seen clinical trials of cannabinoids for trigeminal neuralgia, and we recognize that your mother is not a rat. If, however, she lives in a state where she could try this potential treatment legally, it might be worthwhile.

We received this message on the use of a cannabinoid for pain:

“I need a shoulder replacement but because I must use my arms to get on and off my power wheelchair, the operation would be risky. During physical therapy recently, I got a recommendation for something called CBD (cannabidiol). This is a compound in marijuana, but the THC has been removed so it does not make me high.

“I buy it online and have used two squirts of CBD oil in my mouth daily for four days. I cannot tell you how well this works. I can move my arms again and am looking forward to unfreezing my shoulder.”

This person finds that it is relatively easy to purchase CBD oil online.

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  1. Jodi C

    I have chronic long term neurological Lyme disease. About 6 months ago I started getting trigeminal neuralgia. Before I knew what was happening, I started treating the area of my upper palate that was the start point of the pain with pharmacy grade CBD extract. It worked like a miracle. I was able to live thru 6 months of the pain without any other pain medication. As soon as I stopped the CBD for a few doses though, the pain came back. I eventually had a tooth that had mysteriously (and rapidly) decayed from the inside of the tooth, extracted. I just finished the antibiotics from that procedure and the pain is starting to return. I am going to go back to using the CBD extract as long as necessary. The specific kind I used is: medical marijuana pharmacy grade CBD extract (done thru a CO2 extraction process). I found that straight CBD worked better for me at relieving pain than the CBD/THC mix. I find that when vaping cannabis flower, what works best is an indica strain (THC) with a small amount of a CBD flower mixed in . The CBD strain that worked best for me was Cannatonic. The only “high” symptoms I get when using the CBD extract is a much welcomed relief of anxiety and pain. I feel relaxed but totally clearheaded and able to function thru the pain. I literally saved my life. The trigeminal neuralgia is absolutely unbearable.

  2. Natalie

    I was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia a month and a half ago. I went through a whole month with lots of debilitating painful attacks. I was at the end of my robe till I discovered CBD Living Freeze roll on. This roll on is a miracle rub. I was skeptical about it when my husband came home from his bowling league and told me that his team told him to tell me to look into medicinal marijuana treatments.

    I said no way I will use that stuff. I have never been exposed to marijuana in my life and i am scared to use that stuff till the day I had a straight 12 hours of excruciating pain to the point I couldn’t even drink a drop of water without being attacked by pain. The day before I had found a YouTube video about this girl who suffers this disease for years until she found CBD Living Freeze. She said it works. I told my husband to look online for it. He found it at a local dispensary who would deliver within an hour.

    We bought it and when it arrived I rolled it on my face where the pain was. It was a miracle. My pain subsided within 10 minutes. I used it it every 6 hours for the first 4 days and taper down to 3 times a day for the following 4 days and now I am using it in the morning and at night. I am also on medication allied Gabapentin 300mg three times a day. Knock on wood I have not have any pain attacks since I started using this CBD roll on. It truly is amazing.

    It really works. I carry this tube in my purse everywhere I go. It’s my security blanket. Try it and you won’t regret it. I want to spread the words so people who suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia shouldn’t go through the pain any longer.

  3. Sue

    I’m at a loss as to what to try to control or eliminate my trigeminal neuralgia. I can go for weeks without any pain and then have days when it’s off and on every few minutes.

    Has anyone tried chiropractic sessions, acupuncture or an over the counter medication? I don’t want to take a daily medication when I don’t have the pain everyday.

    • Kevin

      Does this really work? Just diagnosed at 30 years old and can’t get rid of the pain!

      • Xzavyur
        corpus christi, texas

        I’ve been trying to find something to really work. I’ve been dealing with this for 12 years. What seems to help me through the insanity is Rizatriptan 10 mg. tablets. I’ve tried something new lately. I purchased a small ultrasound device called the pain shield, sold by Nanovibronix. It looks the size of a small cell phone. It has a three foot cord that attaches to a patch that is applied to the right side of the face. The adhesive patches lose their sticking power within about seven uses. However, even though the sticky gel wore off, the patch itself was still functional. I went to the store and picked up some cheap medical sticky tape and tape the patch to my face. It works and the ultrasound device has reduced the amount of attacks from every day to once in three days.
        I try to use this device on 2 full cycles daily. It is easy to do when sleeping. It will not abort an attack like the rizatriptan. Or ease pain during an attack. It has reduced the amount of rizatriptan I take To about once every three days, instead of daily. The rizatriptan usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to start working. It’s best to take at the onset of the attack. It works for up to approximately 10 hours for pain relief. With the ultrasound device, using it daily for a three months is recommended to provide good results for TN. I’m currently at the end of the first month, seeing some results and will keep using. Hopefully this will help. I am also going to try the cbd oil and take my chances. What do I have to lose but the pain.

  4. Jackie

    I have Trigeminal Neuralgia and took gabapentin and Nortriptyline, but did not like the side effects. Only thing that helps in cannabis. Everyone who suffers from this horrid syndrome should have access to it. And no side effects that will eventually give you another issue!

    • Laurie

      Could you tell me what particular strain you used? It is legal here in California but trying to get through the hundreds of different types is frustrating. I also wonder if anyone has used a vape as opposed to smoking?

      • Jodi Caplan

        I use Cannatonic CBD extract that I get from my dispensary here in Massachusetts. I experimented with MANY different strains/delivery methods. What worked best for my condition was the high CBD extract (Cannatonic works the best, next was a high CBD mix- like 80%CBD:20%THC. These are extracted using CO2. The extract is packaged in a 1ml oral syringe. I have been using marijuana for a long time so my tolerance is high…). I would generally get about 10 doses from each syringe. Each dose is about the size of a grain of rice. My pain was originating in my upper palate, around my incisor tooth. I put a little oil on my finger (the extract is VERY sticky like honey and the oil helps it slide off your finger easily) and then squirt the CBD on that.

        Then gently rub the oil into my gums around that tooth and hold it all in my mouth without swallowing as long as I can. Usually rinse about 10 minutes later. It tastes AWFUL – very harsh – but I have gotten used to it. I would do this first thing in the morning if I woke up with unexplained anxiety, and then repeat every 4 hours to stay ahead of the pain. I take my last dose before sleep and it helps my sleep immensely. I am able to get through the night without needing it. Each syringe costs about $75. This helped me get through the last 6 months of trigeminal neuralgia (a result of chronic Lyme). I also vape cannabis to relieve anxiety, pain and help sleep. When I vape, I find that Cannatonic doesn’t do that much on it’s own for me.

        What works best is an Indica strain flower with a little bit of Cannatonic (or another high CBD strain will probably be the same) mixed in. My favorite strains of Indica are Purple Trainwreck, Star Pupil, and pretty much any of the PURPLE/Berry/Grape varieties. Any of those “purple” strains seem to be good to relax, ease muscle pain, relieve anxiety. (I have also used the extract on my skin where the neuralgia erupted on my skin as well as inside my body. I do believe it helped to stop the numbness and “creepy crawly” sensations I was getting in my big toe.). I hope this helps.

        The pain is so unbearable; I want everyone who suffers from it to know that CBD could be an option to the other pain medications with so many side effects. Good luck. PS – check out . – it helped me navigate the strains and for vaping, nothing beats the PAX vaporizer. I find the oil cartridges you can vape are not as potent as vaping flower and cost more.

  5. Elaine

    trigeminal neuropathic pain-24/7
    I find the oil with high thc helps me sleep but have not had results with the cbd-maybe I need to take more-but it is so expensive.
    But-change in doctors and the codeine that has helped me the most being titrated down-and I have done all the rest of the drugs.
    I will be more consistent with the cbd through the winter and hope for the best.I love to hear how it helps others.

  6. Kimberly

    Still trying to manage my TN. Want to do whatever I can to prevent surgery. Right now I am taking Trileptal. So far, I don’t have relief, but with time we shall see what happens.

    • Tracy

      I have had 2 cybernife sessions and the most evasive surgery call micro vascular decompression MCD and nothing has relieved my pain, but caused more side effects. I’m currently on carbamazipine, lamotrigine, amitriptyline and cymbalta. I’ve reached the max anyone should take. I have now started the CBD oil and slowly starting to feel some relief. Does it work? Time will tell, but I know with -30+ degrees outside I’ve had less attacks.

    • Joyce

      I Have been suffering with trigaminal neuralgia for quite some time now. In all honesty, I didn’t try conventional medicine, after my neuro explain it to me. I sought natural remedies, got an alternative Dr who claimed he could cure the disease, but it was costing me more than I COULD AFFORD. So I did some research and found lots of alternate natural remedies. It was costly but I didn’t have to pay a Dr. Last summer was when I discovered cbd oil, it was like a dream come true. With this remedy and prayer it was the best summer I had in 3yrs. However, comes “Mr. Winter,” and my honeymoon was over. Went back to my dr and made a statement. He agreed let me purchase 50/50 which I took at night, cbd in the day. No cure yet. Continued praying and taking the two drops. I AM NOW COMFORTABLE IN MY SKIN. Hope this help someone. GOD bless! Don’t give up. Prayers work. God is able to alleviate all distress.

      • Anthony

        What is 50/50 that your referring to?

        • Joyce

          It is now September. I’m still not cured. The disease is still here, but less intense. However I’m still unable to work, still sensitive to air conditioner, fans, wind, cold storage in groceries stores, cold drafts and winter. If anyone can find any thing that works well for them, please share; because I have refused conventional meds, I’ve been punished by the Canadian government, so I received no disability funds.

          I would like to go back to work, but who would hire me. I TRY to do a day home but couldn’t. Anyway I’m still looking for a cure, will not stop experimenting with natural remedy untill something works. Still praying and hoping for a miracle to happen, I’m trusting God to the end. I FIGHT depression by reading my Bible, sing religious songs and pray. God bless everyone, and may He grant us all good coping mechanisms to tolerate the pain.

  7. Emmanuel

    Where can I get some? I have cerebral palsy, not so much effective on me but I get irratated when dealing with unexpected facial nerve….

  8. Barbie

    I have trigeminal neuralgia. I take nortriptyline for other nerve damage I have, and keep baclofen on hand if needed. I was told I could try pain pills and seizure meds. I declined both. This is something that started fairly recently and I don’t want to go down that road if it isn’t an absolute. Recently, feeling like having hot needles in face, my daughter slipped me a bite of a cookie laced with marijuana). Didn’t want to chew…. but went ahead. I got so sleepy, but laying down I noticed that the needles assaulting my face were diminishing. I woke up pain free. I have since been having I nibble off my cookie at bedtime and wake up feeling pretty rested. When an attack starts, I have a nibble and for me, it significantly reduces the intensity in the pain. A good long nap and I’m functional after. I got a bottle of the CBd oil, but haven’t tried it. This pain is crazy. If you have the means to try in whatever form works for you, then you should try it. At least you’ll get some good sleep.

    • Lynn J

      Charlotte’s Web, a CBD hemp oil, worked on my trigeminal neuralgia. It was like a miracle.

      • Nancy

        Didn’t the Charlottes Web make you high?

  9. Sue

    I have had atypical trigeminal neuralgia for 18 years. I have tried everything to no avail. Medical marijuana is now legal in our state. any suggestions. I also have a mild seizure disorder . I need to get off Vicodin before it rots my liver. It is not very effective even with Tegretol.

    • Pat

      Hi Sue,
      When I read your post my first thought was “I don’t remember writing this” :)
      I have also had constant and unrelenting facial pain for eighteen years.

      Tried several medications but they were either ineffective or caused adverse reactions.

      I shared a joint some ten or more years ago and the relief was immediate. (but the pain was back the next morning).

      I’m working with teenagers so I’ve avoided that path until now.

      I recently bought and tried CBD oil but unfortunately it had no effect.

      I’m currently growing a plant or two in the hope of finding a solution (eighteen years is enough). I don’t need to tell you.

      I went with CBD oil (now plants) as advised. It was important to be that I keep my wits about me and am able to function normally. But I’m now reading mixed opinions on whether to go with CBD or THC.

      I recon I’ll do some trials.

      Best wishes – Pat

  10. Dolores

    I have had trigeminal neuralgia for the past 11 years. It came on quite suddenly. It was controlled for nine years with carbamazepine and Gabapentin but with bad side effects. Eventually the medications quit working. I was tried with Baclofen and another medication to no avail. I finally resorted to surgery (the balloon procedure) on my face.

    I had complications with the surgery, but that was mostly due to the medical team not paying attention to my medical history and what I told them. I felt it was the least invasive of the surgeries, at least for me.

    The pain is gone but my face is permanently numb on the side where I had the pain and I have lost my sense of taste. I will just have to adjust to the numbness because if it comes back then that means the nerve is affected again. I am just glad to get rid of the pain which feels exactly as described and you never know when it will come or when it will leave.

    • Karen

      I’d recommend CBD taken internally (best used sublingually), and PainBomb+CBD, which is a topical formula that contains 27 essential oils, DMSO, MSM, and many other healthy, plant-based ingredients. It’s money-back guaranteed for pain relief.
      Ships legally to all 50 states and 49 countries.

  11. Kathie

    I had Trigeminal neuralgia for 10 years and was taking so much medicine I was toxic. Never tried cannabis but think when the pain comes it hard to do anything let alone take something. My best decision was surgery at Johns Hopkins. Gave me my life back.

    • Kimberly


      I was considering going to Johns Hopkins hospital for my TN. What kind of surgery worked out for you?

  12. Elvera

    Thanks for this article. I have trigeminal neuropathy , not neuralgia, and unlike neuralgia, trigeminal neuropathy pain is chronic, 24/7. My pain is controlled with 25mg of nortriptyline but I know many of my TN friends have taken this oil as mentioned above and it has helped them tremendously.

    Even though my nortriptyline relieves my pain a lot, I am concerned when you spoke a while ago that anticholergic medication may be coorelated with getting alzheimers later in life… This CBD oil is now one more option I can think about for my nerve pain management… I got my TN from two separate dental errors from two separate dentists.

  13. mira m.

    i had hopes of dealing with my chronic pain with CBD spray. however, i have been told by my marijuana dr and also by dispensary workers that CBD alone is not active against pain when it’s separated from THC. (i don’t know how much THC is necessary to activate the CBD.) it’s possible the man in the wheelchair with shoulder problems may be benefiting from a placebo effect. i would very much appreciate if u have any information or comments about this.

    • Theresa

      I also have trigeminal neuropathy from a root canal. I have order the oil, just wondering if have tried and what aere the results

  14. Mary

    My brother suffers with trigeminal neuralgia. He recently began taking the homeopathic remedies Arnica 200c and Hypericum 200c. Arnica is used for pain and trauma and Hypericum is used for nerve pain. He takes the remedies immediately when he feels an attack coming on and the results have been miraculous!

  15. Michael
    N Central Nebraska

    The Jannetta procedure, named for the doctor who pioneered this approach, is said to be effective in better than 95% of cases.New gamma knife procedures seem to be an improvement on this approach. And don’t overlook manual therapy provided by an osteopath (DO) trained in cranial osteopathy. This is the least invasive of all approaches.

  16. Terry Hamrick
    North Carolina

    I have tried the Charlotte’s Web variety of cannabis oil for my TBI and nerve pain caused by a dissection of the carotid attery. While it does help with sleep, it did not relieve the pain.

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