Inhaling Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Inhaling Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Inhaling Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Patients diagnosed with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may have an alternative treatment to managing pain if dosages are examined more closely -- medical cannabis. 

About 50% of patients with diabetes are suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which can be present in a multiple forms.1 Some common symptoms include: hyperalgesia, numbness, paresthesia, sensitivity to touch, unsteadiness and weakness.

Published in the Journal of Pain, a new study revealed that inhaling cannabis relieves pain resulting from neuropathy — but there's a catch.2

Researchers found that there's a dose-dependant reduction in pain. Higher doses caused more sedation and euphoria in patients suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain.2

"There is some uncertainty regarding the dosing range that results in analgesia after administration of cannabis," the authors wrote in the study.

Study author Mark Steven Wallace, MD, told Clinical Pain Advisor that “there have been very few studies looking at different doses.”

"Most studies used single doses with inconsistencies between results," said Wallace, chair of the Division of Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at UCSanDiego Health, an academic health system. "One study using experimental pain in healthy volunteers showed that medium doses of cannabis were effective in relieving pain whereas high doses actually increased pain."

In Wallace's randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study, researchers sampled 16 patients with  diabetic peripheral neuropathy to analyze both the tolerability and short-term efficacy of inhaled cannabis.

Each participant was exposed to placebo or cannabis in four sessions, separated by two weeks. Dosage amounts varied for those who were administered aerosolized cannabis. Researchers gave participants a low (1% THC), medium (4% THC), or high (7% THC) dose of cannabis. Pain intensity and subject "highness" scores were measured at various intervals. Researchers measured highness by asking participants to rank how "high" they felt on a 10-point scale (0 being "not high at all").

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