Neuropathy is a painful condition which occurs when nerve damage takes place in certain areas of the body. And while the disease can affect one or more areas, it is often situated in the hands or feet. While many of the causes of neuropathy are now known, there are very few treatments out there that can offer much relief, at least without further side effects of their own.
With the different variants of neuropathy that affect millions of Americans, CBD oil is now being considered as a potential treatment for the disease because of its safety profile and its therapeutic, pain-relieving potential.
So, could CBD oil take the place of the traditional medications that are currently being used to relieve neuropathy in the feet? In this article, we are going to take a look at the condition itself and how CBD could prove to be a possible new treatment for long-suffering patients.
First Of All: What Is Neuropathy?
Every one of us of course has a central nervous system (CNS), which consists of the brain and spinal cord. This system works hand in hand with our peripheral nervous system which essentially carries the nerves from the CNS to different parts of our body.
Unlike our CNS, which is protected by a number of factors such as the vertebral column, skull, and blood-brain barrier, the peripheral nervous system is left pretty exposed to a range of things – from toxins to bacteria to injury.
If the peripheral nervous system is damaged, then there is a high chance that peripheral neuropathy may occur, which is a clear indication of nerve damage. This most often occurs in the upper and lower extremities, hence the prevalence of neuropathy in the feet.
What Are The Causes of Neuropathy?
Nerve damage can be caused by a variety of factors, and it almost always comes as a result of another underlying condition. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes; in fact, up to 70% of diabetes sufferers have some sort of nerve damage! This is due to high blood sugar levels which over time damage the cells in the body, leading to diabetic polyneuropathy.
However, diabetes is not the only condition that leads to this disease. Here are some other potential causes for neuropathy in the feet:
- Excess alcohol intake
- Physical injury to the nerves
- Certain viral infections such as shingles or HIV
- Medication side effects
- Low vitamin levels such as B12
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Some types of cancer such as lymphoma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What Are The Symptoms and Side Effects of Neuropathy?
With so many variations of neuropathy, it makes sense that the side effects and symptoms of the disease differ depending on which part of the body it is situated in. What changes most radically however is the speed that these symptoms develop, and this will differ depending on the area that is affected and the type of neuropathy you have.
Here are the main kinds of neuropathy:
- Motor neuropathy (damage to the nerves that control movement)
- Autonomic neuropathy (damage to the nerves that control certain bodily processes such as blood pressure, digestion, bladder function)
- Mononeuropathy (damage to just a single nerve outside of the CNS)
- Sensory neuropathy (damage to the nerves that carry messages of touch, pain, temperature and other sensations to the brain)
It is worth mentioning that sufferers of peripheral neuropathy will likely have more than one of the aforementioned types of conditions.
Also, like we said while any of these four variations of neuropathy can occur in any body region, they are most likely to affect the hands or feet. These are the most common signs that you may have neuropathy:
- Numbness of the affected area
- Tingling sensations
- Burning sensation
- Stabbing or shooting pains
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Weakened muscles (this often affects the feet the most)
- Less able to feel pain in the area
- Feeling pain from something that should not cause any pain
- Muscle cramps
- Twitching muscles
- Muscle waste
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty walking or standing
These are just some of the symptoms of this debilitating condition, but it is important to consider that these symptoms depend on the type of neuropathy you are suffering with.
How Is Neuropathy Currently Treated?
Since we know that most cases of neuropathy occur as a result of another condition, it is likely from the offset that the individual will already be on some form of medication. When neuropathy is added to the mix as well, it can lead not only to the debilitating side effects of the condition, but also to serious cases of depression and anxiety.
Currently, most medications for this condition exist in the form of pain relievers; in these cases, it may be over the counter drugs such as anti-inflammatories, which can be used to relieve mild symptoms. However, due to the severity of the pain that comes with neuropathy of the feet, what is more common in most instances are prescription opioids.
Unfortunately, as we all know there is an ongoing opioid crisis, which is due to the fact that these medications are so addictive and readily available (and moreover, they prevent their own long list of dangerous – potentially fatal – side effects).
You may also be prescribed anti-depressants, anti-seizure medications, topical treatments, or even physiotherapy to combat your symptoms of neuropathy in the feet, though as it stands these are mostly symptomatic treatments that only mask the symptoms of the condition, rather than actually treating the underlying causes. And moreover, the majority of them are expensive, highly risky medications to be on for the long-term.
CBD for Neuropathy In The Feet
While we have talked about neuropathy in its entirety, it is important to focus on the condition in relation to feet, as this is the body part usually most affected by the condition.
Over recent years more work has been done into finding out whether CBD oil could provide any relief to those suffering from neuropathy of the feet, and the findings up to now have been pretty promising!
Before we take a look at the scientific evidence for CBD and neuropathy of the feet, though, it’s important to understand a few things about the natural cannabinoid and it’s incredibly vast listof therapeutic potential. Here is a quick rundown of all that CBD has been known to do:
- CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory
- Antiemetic (anti-vomiting)
- Promotes bone growth
- Potent analgesic (pain reliever)
Just from the impressive list of properties above, it seems like a given that CBD for neuropathy of the feet should go hand in hand. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that some studies have shown to be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs, with none of the side effects or addictive qualities!
Chronic inflammation is one of the key causes of nerve damage in the body, so we can see straight away how CBD could be an effective preventative. But what does the science say?
Let’s take a look at some of the studies done in regard to CBD for neuropathy of the feet, bearing in mind that most studies used cannabis as a whole rather than isolated CBD. In any regard, however, it shows promising results for the cannabinoids’ effectiveness in treating the condition!
The Facts Regarding CBD for Neuropathy in Feet
- A spray branded Sativex was approved back in 2005 as a treatment for pain. Sativex is a combination of THC and CBD that was approved by the FDA to control cancer-related neuropathy. A study published for neuropathic pain in 2007 revealed that of 125 patients – 65 of whom were given Sativex and the other 60 a placebo – those with the biggest reduction in symptoms were observed to be the subjects taking the Sativex medication.
- CBD has been proven to reduce muscle spasms, which is why it is an approved treatment in most states for multiple sclerosis. It is possible to have muscle spasms along with muscle wastage when suffering from neuropathy of the feet, and CBD oil can be an effective treatment.
- A study published in 2010 looked at HIV-associated sensory neuropathy and how different treatments could help. The study found that cannabis provided pain relief improvements in up to 50% of people suffering from nerve pain.
While there is still a lot of room for advancement in terms of the research that has been done (one thing we really need more of is actual clinical trials), it is certainly a good start in terms of the potential for CBD oil to treat neuropathy in feet.
Moreover, along with the actual studies there are hundreds of patient testimonials on how CBD has changed the way they live with neuropathy of all kinds, including diabetes-induced neuropathy of the feet.
What we do know is that CBD offers a natural way to combat low mood (which is incredibly common among those suffering from this condition). Also, based on a recent World Health report we know that it isn’t addictive nor is does it come with any debilitating side effects, and it cannot be overdosed on. CBD oil offers a safe alternative that has proven time after time to provide effective pain relief, along with a host of potent effects that outshine many pharmaceuticals.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil For Neuropathy In Feet
Neuropathic foot pain is incredibly serious, and can be very damaging to the patient who suffers from it. There is a lot more involved than just constant and intense pain; most victims suffer from mobility issues, loss of confidence, depression, and many other serious side effects.
While there are treatments and preventative measures available, many offer little relief to those who are suffering, and they can sometimes make matters worse in terms of their negative side effects. It is for these reasons that we should be considering CBD oil for neuropathy in feet as a possible way forward in the treatment of this condition.
With more research being done every day, we feel that major breakthroughs in terms of widespread use and physician recommendation are just a matter of time . . .