marijuana plants, cannabidiol, THC, cannabis cream, could cannabis help, medical marijuana in Connecticut

People with neuropathy are often desperate for relief. The causes of this nerve pain may vary, from drug side effects to the aftermath of an infection. Sometimes too little or too much of a common vitamin can trigger constant pain or numbness and tingling. Diabetes also frequently causes neuropathy. Doctors may prescribe medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica), and sometimes these are helpful. However, many readers are curious about the potential for cannabis cream to alleviate nerve pain.

Will Cannabis Cream Help?

Q. Have there been any studies on the use of cannabis cream to relieve the burning and tingling of neuropathy in one’s feet? I have a jar of cream that contains cannabis (along with several other herbal ingredients) but I am somewhat hesitant to use it. I live in a state where marijuana is legal, so that is not the problem.

Limited Research on Cannabis Cream:

A. There is limited evidence to support topical cannabis for neuropathy (Hauser et al, Deutsches Arzteblatt, Sept. 22, 2017).  However, several studies suggest that inhaled marijuana may offer relief for some people with this painful condition (Journal of Pain, Dec. 2015 and June 2016).

A recent overview of research concludes that long-term risks of such treatment have not been well studied (Mucke et al, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, March 7, 2018). The scientists point out that some people who start using cannabis cream or other forms of marijuana medicinally may later turn to abusing this drug. They are not sure that the benefits outweigh the potential harms. On the other hand, they might say the same about medications approved to treat neuropathy.

A Cochrane review of gabapentin for this purpose concludes:

“Over half of those treated with gabapentin will not have worthwhile pain relief but may experience adverse events.”

(Wiffen et al, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, June 9, 2017).

Cannabis for Diabetic Neuropathy:

One complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, severe pain due to nerve damage. People often find it difficult to alleviate the pain of neuropathy. Consequently, we were interested to learn of this reader’s experience easing the agony with a low dose of medical marijuana.

How Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Soothed?

Q. I have severe diabetic neuropathy. The pain is intense, but it lasts only a short time and can occur anywhere: on the left big toe one time, right little finger the next, left testicle, right earlobe etc.

None of the drugs my doctor prescribed worked very well, and they all took weeks or months to do anything. Even then, the dosage had to be increased and the side effects worsened with that.

Someone suggested I try something that never occurred to me: marijuana. I took two puffs, waited about twenty seconds and the pain was gone-for three days! That was the fastest and longest relief I have ever gotten. More research is needed but it’s very promising.

Will Marijuana Help Diabetic Neuropathy?

A. There has not been much research on the use of medical marijuana for diabetic neuropathy, but we found one study that is of interest. Sixteen people with painful diabetic neuropathy that had not responded well to other treatments participated in a placebo-controlled trial of inhaled marijuana at various doses (Wallace et al, Journal of Pain, July, 2015).  This small study showed that their neuropathy pain was significantly reduced at several doses.

In another study, 42 people with neuropathy due to spinal cord injury experienced pain relief when they inhaled cannabis vapor (Wilsey et al, Journal of Pain, Sep. 2016). We agree that more research will be very helpful. People interested in learning about research that has already been done on medical marijuana may wish to listen to our hour-long interview with David Casarett, MD, author of Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana.

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  1. Di

    If you are a recovering addict, what are your thoughts on using marijuana for diabetic neuropathy pain? B

  2. Amador C

    wish I had it legal here with me and some of my family members with all my disabilities since I was in high school. Still was around the smoke with my dad as a young one as I thought it was a cig and I always just read more and was into playing. Now just trying to stay away from the cops as they think I’m my dad and they had sent me to jail, mental place, and prison and wanted to do more as I had the same name as my dad.

    I need to move from this town and state and get better help for my body as for many year so injured and not helped and missed out in many universities for my daughter to take care of them when I could when I was out and still no real help as there mother moved away and she didn’t help out with $ or love for them much less talking over the years, now 10.

  3. Lazy

    I have smoked marijuana for about 17 years to help the pain of my fibromyalgia, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. When I lived in a cannabis legal state, I grew my own and smoked/ate it. My pain level was much lower. Now I live in a non-legal marijuana state.

    I think that marijuana should be legalized for people with documented disease that Mj has been shown to help.

  4. Joe
    Sanford, NC

    Is cannabis oil or cream available in North Carolina?

    • Sara
      Fayetteville, NC

      I keep getting emails wanting to know where to ship my “sample”. I have not opened the and just put them in my spam folder. So, you may want to check online. I have not checked but would welcome a prescription for neuropathy in my feet. Gabapentin did not help.

  5. Janet

    It is not a good idea to suggest a blanket approach to neuropathy. What may work for one person may not work for another. Medical doctors do the blanket approach all the time, with some patients being helped and others harmed or having bad experiences. Controlled trials of substances give us a clue as to what MIGHT work for each of us, but actual use is a better indicator of what works or doesn’t. CBD ointment has helped me but I only use it occasionally for neuropathy, but perhaps my neuropathy is not as severe as some other people’s. Also I think placebo effect is present in what ever a person uses to combat neuropathy. However, if a placebo works, I say, use it as long as it does not harm in another area.

  6. Jean H
    Boulder, CO

    I have very painful nephropathy in my hands and feet due to Chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer. I was prescribed Gabapentin which I’m hesitant to use as one of the side effects can be memory loss. I would not hesitate to use Cannabis cream if I can find it in one our many Medicinal Cannabis shops available to us in Colorado.

    Thank you for bringing it to my attention as I am already using marijuana for sleep, nausea and to increase appetite. I would welcome any advice or comments. I am not concerned about this being a public site. Thank you.

  7. Lyn

    I have tried CBD lotion on my painful neuropathic feet, to no avail. No help. Darn. I guess I will have to try smoking with some THC added. Any thoughts?

  8. Dam

    It’s sad to see any useful medicine being shunned because of arcane, senseless laws. And, of course, because it’s not profitable enough for profit hungry corporations who would rather not compete against Mother Nature. Sometimes, it seems that we patients are viewed by some as no more than a business opportunity.

    • Barbara K

      Yes THC will help with the pain, (CBD and THC ) In a tincher, Try That.

  9. William

    In the article, “Will Cannabis cream really ease neuropathy?”, you said, “Sometimes too little or too much of a common vitamin can trigger constant pain or numbness and tingling.” What common vitamin (s) are you referring to?

  10. Suzanne
    Pueblo, CO

    Colorado State University has an entire program to study all aspects of cannabis. I suggest that you keep an eye on their studies as they come out: One on the impact of cannibas on communities is out now. There has been very little study done on cannabis since any kind of study has been outlawed by the Federal Government. However, with some states making its use legal, a flood of studies has begun. I’m keeping my eyes out for new information.

  11. Chaela

    Why so cautious? If you are in a state where medical cannabis is available, why not simply try it, and find out if it works for you? Likely it’s one of the safest herbs (not a drug) you will ever use to relieve pain.

  12. Florence

    One solution may be to use a Rebounder regularly. I have used one for years quite successfully. After my heart surgery (result of Pfen-Fen drug) my ankles never swelled. The Dr. was amazed. I bounce lightly and have a safety bar so I hold on with one hand and have a book in the other when I do my daily 20 minutes.

  13. Shirley Henderson Colee
    Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

    What about cannabis in an oral form? I have heard that formulations that are not inhaled and that do not alter mood are available that treat pain such as neuropathy.

  14. Don
    Bartow, FL

    What about the neuropathy that is the result of chemotherapy, what can help?

  15. Diana
    Spokane, WA

    Are there any studies regarding Hemp which is rumored to alleviate all kinds of pain without the high that marijuana use gives you? I am reading that more and more people with neuropathy or chronic pain are able to stop the pain with daily use of hemp oil. Do you have any information on this?

  16. Lisa
    Houston, TX

    I have pretty severe neuropathy in my feet from diabetes that nothing helped until I started smoking/vaping/ingesting cannabis. Certain strains help me better than others. I tend to do well with Sativa dominant hybrids.

    I tried strains high in CBD, but I do better with more THC. I started marijuana to see if it would help my seizures and it actually eliminated them now for over a year, but it also works for my neuropathy pain, my headaches, my energy, depression/anxiety, my stomach issues and a host of other things. All that and it makes you happy and relaxed too. I will never give up my cannabis. I’ve gotten off ALL of the horrible drugs that I was prescribed, which did more harm than good!

    • Lyn

      Lisa, hi, can you tell me what you buy re: the sativa dominant strains. I am going shopping for 1st time. Thanks and GOOD luck to you. Lyn

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