Do CBD topicals relieve nerve pain? Possibly. Although many people use the terms nerve pain and neuropathy interchangeably, they have distinct differences. Let’s break it out. First, there are three kinds of nerves in the body:
- Autonomic nerves control the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of your body, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and temperature regulation.
- Motor nerves control your movements and actions by passing information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles.
- Sensory nerves relay information from your skin and muscles back to your spinal cord and brain. The nerves help you feel pain and other sensations.
To understand whether CBD topicals relieve nerve or neuropathic pain, you need to understand the source of your pain.
This kind of pain is chronic. Usually caused by a progressive disease, such as diabetes, it affects the central nervous system. But it can also be the result of an illness or injury. The pain can show up anytime without warning as a burning or tingling sensation. Peripheral neuropathy often sets up in your extremities; hands and feet. The two kinds of neuropathic pain are distinct, as well.
Neuropathy is damage to the nerves in the central nervous system with damage to nerve fibers, disrupting the pain signals the nerves send to and receive from other parts of the body.
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with nerves that send messages from the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body.
This pain is often caused by an injury and symptoms vary based on which nerves are damaged. Injuries can stretch, compress, cut or crush nerves. In essence:
Nerve pain is damage or injury to a nerve that can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness or prickling sensations in areas of the body.
Everyone experiences nerve pain differently. It could be a stabbing sensation, sometimes in the middle of the night. Fibromyalgia and sciatica are just two examples of nerve pain. Untreated or uncontrolled nerve pain can affect your quality of life, leading to anxiety, depression, anger and frustration.
Most often, physicians treat nerve pain and neuropathy with over-the-counter medications and in more severe cases, opiates. Neither are recommended for long-term use because of the potential side effects.
The endocannabinoid system
What is it about CBD topicals that eases pain? First you need to understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is standard equipment within human (and many other) beings. The ECS helps us maintain balance in our bodies. Apparently, previous generations knew intuitively about the ECS and worked with it, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that modern-day scientists discovered it.
Within the ECS, the CB1 and CB2 receptors help maintain balance in our bodies by regulating appetite, mood, pain and other body processes.
- CB1 travels through in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain and spinal cord.
- CB2 is found mainly in immune system tissues.
- Interestingly, both have been found in skin.
When an imbalance occurs, the ECS produces cannabinoids that interact with receptors. The chemical process that occurs targets and resolves the imbalance to restore balance.
CBD topicals for nerve pain
CBD topicals are lotions, salves, creams or balms that you apply directly to the affected area. They are convenient and safe to use because there are few if any side effects. Topicals made with hemp-derived CBD oil don’t get you high, which makes them desirable to use frequently as your pain dictates.
The research about CBD efficacy is growing. In fact, this study showed “statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations in the CBD group when compared with the placebo group.” Did I mention CBD doesn’t have harmful side effects?
CBD is a known anti-inflammatory and analgesic. When you apply CBD topicals directly on the skin, all of the hemp-derived nutrients are almost instantly absorbed, allowing a quicker, more focused effect. Researchers believe that CBD doesn’t attach directly to the receptors. Instead, it activates them, which allows for many of the health benefits that people associate with the CBD. They are easy to use and have the added benefit of softening and protecting your skin while they work to relieve the pain. To use a topical, determine the cause of your pain and look for quality products that include CBD, carrier and essential oils with no chemicals, toxins, stabilizers or other harmful ingredients.
Yes, we need more research to understand what CBD can and can’t do. As always, any treatment will act differently for everyone, but if you’re in pain, maybe trying CBD topicals can relieve it without harmful side effects. What have you got to lose.