Diabetes is a complex disease that affects almost every part of your body, including your nerves. About 50% of people with diabetes have some type of nerve damage, according to the American Diabetes Association, most often affecting the peripheral nerves in their feet and hands.
Tingling, pain, numbness, and weakness in the feet or hands are common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy focuses on symptom management.
At Legacy Health and Wellness, our board-certified preventive medicine and public health physician, Dr. Ifeoma Ogbonna, takes an integrative approach to health, combining traditional medical treatments with complementary therapies, treating our patients’ whole health, not just their disease or symptoms.
Dr. Ogbonna is a registered provider with Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (CUP) for medical marijuana. Here, we want to explain how medical marijuana can relieve diabetic nerve pain.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use the energy — glucose — that comes from the food you eat. When glucose enters your bloodstream, it triggers the release of insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas that gets the glucose from your blood into the cells.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make insulin (or enough) or your cells no longer respond to insulin, causing glucose to remain in your blood. Over time, too much glucose in your blood damages the body.
Because your nerves are small, they tend to get damaged first. The glucose also damages the tiny blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerves, affecting nerve function.
The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of nerve damage. And the damage is permanent.
Medical marijuana contains chemical compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, affecting the nervous system and regulating the immune system.
Many people use medical marijuana to treat pain. The cannabinoids in the plant interact with various pain targets in the nervous system, reducing inflammation and discomfort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are studies that show medical marijuana is helpful in treating nerve pain.
A randomized, short-term, placebo-controlled study published in 2015 in The Journal of Pain showed a reduction in pain intensity following use of medical marijuana in a small group of people with diabetic nerve pain. The cannabinoids may have a neuroprotective effect, reducing nerve inflammation and pain.
Medical marijuana may help relieve your diabetic nerve pain, but no single treatment is right for everyone. We can help determine if medical marijuana is the right choice for you. We offer virtual consultations and can talk to you about your symptoms and goals and the use of medical marijuana for diabetic nerve pain.
In Texas, we only prescribe medical marijuana if we think the benefits outweigh the risks.