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  • Drew Herb Lesser

Medical Cannabis for the treatment of Neuropathic Pain

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain that affects millions of people worldwide and is characterized by pain that originates from damaged nerves, and it can be very difficult to treat with traditional pain medications. However, recent studies have shown that medical cannabis and CBD (cannabidiol) can be effective treatments for neuropathic pain.

Medical cannabis is a plant-based medicine that has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of medical conditions. It contains over 100 different chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex system of neurotransmitters and receptors that plays a vital role in regulating many physiological processes, including pain perception.

One of the most well-known cannabinoids in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for the plant's psychoactive effects. However, another cannabinoid, CBD, has been found to have therapeutic properties without the psychoactive effects. CBD works by modulating the activity of the ECS, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Several studies have shown that medical cannabis and CBD can be effective treatments for neuropathic pain. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers found that medical cannabis significantly reduced pain in patients with neuropathic pain. Another study found that CBD reduced pain and improved sleep in patients with chronic pain.

The Science

The mechanism of action of medical cannabis and CBD in reducing neuropathic pain is complex and involves multiple pathways. CBD has been shown to activate the adenosine A2A receptor, which has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain. It also activates the TRPV1 receptor, which is involved in pain perception and can help to reduce pain. THC has been found to activate the CB1 receptor, which can also reduce pain and inflammation.

In addition to their pain-relieving effects, medical cannabis and CBD also have other therapeutic properties

including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, both of which are associated with neuropathic pain.

Medical cannabis and CBD are also relatively safe and well-tolerated, with few serious side effects. Some minor side effects may include dry mouth, dizziness, and drowsiness. However, these side effects are generally mild and transient.


The scientific evidence supports the use of medical cannabis and CBD as a potentially effective treatment for neuropathic pain. These treatments have been shown to reduce pain, improve sleep, and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. As medical cannabis and CBD become more widely accepted, it is likely that they will become more widely used in the treatment of neuropathic pain. However, more research is needed to fully understand their therapeutic potential and to develop better treatment guidelines.


1. Wilsey, B., Marcotte, T., Deutsch, R., Gouaux, B., Sakai, S., & Donaghe, H. (2013). Low-dose vaporized cannabis significantly improves neuropathic pain. The journal of pain, 14(2), 136–148.

2. Mücke M, Phillips T, Radbruch L, Petzke F, Häuser W. Cannabis‐based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD012182. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012182

3. Bellnier T, Brown GW, Ortega TR. Preliminary evaluation of the efficacy, safety, and costs associated with the treatment of chronic pain with medical cannabis. Ment Health Clin [Internet]. 2018;8(3):110-5. DOI: 10.9740/mhc.2018.05.110.

4. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121–1134.


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and is provided for educational purposes only. It should not be relied on as health or personal advice. The author is NOT a Doctor. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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