Diabetic neuropathy, a sometimes debilitating condition related to nerve
degeneration, may affect between 60 and 70
of all patients who have been diagnosed with either type I or type II
diabetes. Neuropathy can occur in different patterns throughout the
body. The most common areas plagued by the often-painful tingling of
neuropathy are the head, torso, legs, feet, arms and hands.
Relief from that tingling that can occur throughout the body often
eludes patients, leading to everyday lives filled with pain and the
inability to participate in previously enjoyed activities. Findings in a
2009 study, however, may offer hope where other treatments have failed.
Studying Neuropathic Impact and Relief
A groundbreaking 2009 clinical
conducted at the General Clinical Research Center at the University of
California, San Diego Medical Center to test the effect of medical
cannabis on neuropathic pain suffered by HIV patients. Although a
different disease, the impact of neuropathy among the HIV patient
population is just as painful, persistent and difficult to treat with
traditional opioid, NSAID or analgesic medications as neuropathy
associate with diabetes.
Regulating the Impact of Painful Stimulus
The premise for the study, developed around animal-based studies,
indicated a positive analgesic effect on the spinal cord in regulating
how pain centers throughout the body were sent painful signals. The
first human study was a double-blind trial, which means that neither the
patients or researchers knew who received active cannabis-based
medication, and who received placebos. Twenty-eight individuals
completed all five phases of the trial, which included:
- An introductory week, where baseline pain measurements were
- Five days of medication usage, either active or placebo,
- Two weeks of monitoring for impact and side effects,
- Five more days of medication,
- And two final weeks of monitoring.
Results after the seven-week study showed far greater pain relief was
realized by the participants who were given medical marijuana versus the
placebo. When used in addition to already-prescribed regimens of
traditional pain medications, study participants achieved up to 30
percent greater pain relief–a significant change.
Relief Without Reaction
Coming in a close second to the drastic pain relief experienced by study
participants was a secondary benefit of limited adverse interactions or
reactions. Only two of the 28 study participants experienced undesired
side effects, none of which proved to be long-lasting or
life-threatening. One subject developed short-term psychosis while
another suffered a smoking-related cough, both of which cleared after
discontinuation of cannabis usage. Overall mood and the ability to
perform normal daily functions improved in all study participants.
Hope for Diabetic Neuropathy
The same improvement realized by participants in the HIV-related
neuropathic pain study can occur in sufferers of diabetic neuropathy.
Medical cannabis doctors can follow the marijuana dosing and timing
guidelines developed from this study to be of maximum benefit in staving
off the painful sensations of neuropathy. From study findings, medical
marijuana between 1% and 8% THC potency can be used, dependent upon
original baseline pain determination, and smoked up to four times daily.
When combined with continued analgesic use, long-time pain sufferers can
find much greater pain relief than ever before.