During this discussion Dr. Mary Clifton speaks about the treatment of neuropathic pain, prescription options as well as the use of cannabis or CBD for pain relief. She also discussed the varying diseases associated with neuropathic pain. 


What you’ll Learn

  • Treatment for Neuropathic Pain
  • Cannabis and CBD for relief 

Neuropathic Pain, Neuropathy, and The Value of Adding Cannabis and THC


Neuropathic pain is notoriously difficult to treat. We’ve tried treating it with all kinds of different medications and perhaps you’ve tried some of these yourself. We use antidepressants in an attempt to bump up the serotonin and decrease associated anxiety and depression, but also reduce the painful syndrome within the central nervous system with that extra serotonin. We also use a medication known as Neurontin or Gabapentin that works to impact the GABA receptors and reduce pain through that pathway. Seizure medications are also used and in chronic pain, seizure medications work by decreasing the painful stimulus from interacting with other cells around it.


Sometimes when you burn your finger, you may have an injury to the tip of your finger and then feel like your entire hand feels a little hypersensitive. That’s because when the information travels to the brain, a lot of other cells in your finger get inflamed, get irritated, and start responding to that areas stimulation. Seizure medications and sometimes antidepressants will help to reduce that propagation of the response and try to limit the amount of pain that results from a painful stimulus.


Sometimes seizure medications can be effective with neuropathic pain, but you may personally know, as I’ve recognized over the years, that there are limitations to all of these medications and none of them are working very well on managing these painful issues. Neuropathic pain arises typically from damage to the nervous system from either a blunt force such as from a motor vehicle accident, a direct injury or from a pinching or stabbing wound. Sometimes neuropathic pain arises from an internal pinching such as when you have a slipped disc.


It’s also associated with many diseases like multiple sclerosis where nerve pain arises from a demyelination or loss of that protective coating from the nerves or from Parkinson’s disease, HIV, diabetes, and also unfortunately as a consequence of chemotherapy for patients who have survived cancers. There’s a really nice study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology that gives us some hope that cannabis could be valuable for treatment of chronic neuropathic pain syndromes. This research study consisted of 18 individual studies that looked at management of pain with cannabis. Out of the 18 studies, 15 of the studies showed improvement in pain. Patients also reported improvement in the quality of their sleep and reported no serious adverse effects.


This led the researchers to conclude that the use of medical marijuana or cannabis for neuropathic pain should be considered safe and moderately effective. In addition to the seizure meds, antidepressants or other pharmacologic therapies you’re using. Consider the addition of cannabis. You could also consider other valuable things to really encircle yourself with a great armamentarium of therapies like acupuncture, biofeedback, stretching and flexibility with a good physical therapist, yogi, personal trainer, orthopedist or any other person to help support your muscles and your skeleton.


When you’re adding the cannabis, I would suggest that you go with something high in CBD, or perhaps even just a pure CBD containing product. This will help relax the muscles and also improve serotonin levels, but in addition to that, the CBD is going to be best at reducing the pain associated with neuropathic disease. A bit of THC might be helpful, but may limit the pain relieving effects of the CBD products you’ll find.


Finally, I would consider a product that’s a little bit heavier on the sativa end because in terms of the hybrid that you choose, because most people that are dealing with chronic neuropathic pain also deal with a lot of fatigue and having that higher level of energy with a higher concentration of sativa in the hybrid would be ideal. We’ll spend a little bit more time in a different video talking about the various benefits of using a sativa versus an indica hybrid, but that may be a good direction to trend on your first try, something high in CBD from possibly a sativa containing plant and see if you can get some relief. I’d love to hear your success stories.