Nerve pain is a common symptom of Lyme disease, Lyme co-infections and associated conditions. One of the main associated conditions of which I speak is that of Fibromyalgia, which is considered a condition as opposed to a disease as it has no known root cause.
Originally, Fibromyalgia was characterized by severe, debilitating nerve pain. However, over the past 3 years, the list of symptoms embodying the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia has grown to include other ailments such as brain fog, chronic fatigue, depression and muscle stiffness, just to name a few.
Legitimate evidence as to what exactly causes Fibromyalgia continues to flat line as spikes in the number of symptoms Fibromyalgia causes continue to surge. In order to avoid further scattering your brain or thickening what, if any, brain fog you may currently be enduring through, we will focus on addressing nerve pain in this section.
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Nerve Pain
The endocannabinoid system’s importance as a neuromodulatory system in the brain has recently began to surface in research. Neuromodulatory systems are made of several neurotransmitters that are not reabsorbed by the presynaptic neuron, and therefore spend excess time in the cerebrospinal fluid modulating overall brain activity. Neuromodulators include neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, both of which play significant roles in pain perception. The brain’s endocannabinoid neuromodulatory system is involved in a plethora of physiological functions related to pain, leading scientists to hypothesize that individuals with Fibromyalgia pain have dysfunctional endocannabinoid neuromodulatory systems, thus lending to their grand hypothesis that the cannabinoids in cannabis can bind with malfunctioning CB1 (cannabinoid receptor type 1) and CB2 (cannabinoid receptor type 2) receptors in the brain’s endocannabinoid neuromodulatory system to repair the malfunction and relieve the patient of pain.
Studies Find Cannabis to Be More Effective at Relieving Nerve Pain Than Mainstream Drugs Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Savella
After conducting a study based partly on this hypothesis, the National Pain Foundation concluded medicinal cannabis may be far more effective at treating pain from Fibromyalgia than pharmaceuticals. The study compared Savella, Lyrica and Cymbalta, the top 3 FDA approved drugs currently prescribed by physicians for Fibromyalgia pain. Out of 1,300 patients only ten percent felt Lyrica or Savella were effective in any way, and only eight percent reported receiving any pain relieving benefits from Cymbalta. Even more disheartening is the fact that over sixty percent of the thirteen hundred patients who participated in the study did not receive any pain relief at all from the medications. However, sixty-two percent of the patients reported cannabis was “very effective” at relieving their pain and thirty-three percent reported that cannabis offered them mild to moderate pain relief, while only five percent reported cannabis did not help at all.
Vaporized Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain
The problematic nerve pain of neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves, spinal cord, or brain are injured or when the sensory system malfunctions due to the manifestation of an underlying pathological condition, such as Lyme disease, or a serious injury from a catastrophic event such as a stroke or severe spinal cord damage. Pain management with the use of pharmaceuticals has proven quite difficult, pushing some scientists to consider the use of unconventional analgesics such as cannabis as possible effective alternatives for neuropathic pain relief. It turns out that cannabis may indeed be an effective alternative for neuropathic pain relief.
According to data from a clinical trial conducted by researchers from the Davis Medical Center at the University of California, vaporized cannabis containing low amounts of THC effectively reduced neuropathic pain even in test subjects who failed to respond to conventional methods of neuropathic pain relief. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers administered cannabis with a medium dose of THC (3.53%), cannabis with a low dose of THC (1.29%), or placebo cannabis to test subjects. Subjects were ordered to hold the vaporizer bag with one hand, hold the vaporizer mouthpiece in their mouth with their other hand, inhale for five seconds, hold the vapor in their lungs for ten seconds, and then exhale and wait for forty seconds before inhaling again. The subjects inhaled four times over the course of sixty minutes. Of the thirty-seven test subjects who were administered cannabis with low dose THC, twenty-one individuals reported that they received pain relief as a result of vaporizing cannabis. Out of the thirty-six test subjects who were administered cannabis with medium dose THC, twenty-two reported a reduction in their pain levels as a result of cannabis use. From this data, it was concluded that vaporizing cannabis with low doses of the psychoactive ingredient THC can offer pain relief from neuropathy while minimizing the cognitive effects otherwise seen in individuals using cannabis with high doses of THC.
- Science, Leaf (2014, April 21). Cannabis May Be Best Treatment For Fibromyalgia, Survey Finds. Retrieved from http://www.leafscience.com/2014/04/21/cannabis-best-treatment-fibromyalgia/
- Jimena, F., M. Durán, D. Capella, Et. al., “Cannabis Use in Patients with Fibromyalgia: Effect on Symptoms Relief and Health-Related Quality of Life”. PLoS One: A Peer-Reviewed, Open Access Journal. 2011; 6(4): e18440. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018440
- Wilsey, B., T.D. Marcotte, R. Deutsch, et. Al. (2012). “Low Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain.” The Journal of Pain, 14(2); 136-148. doi: 10.1016/j/pain.2012.10.009
- Armentano, P. (2013, January 3). Study: Vaporized, Low-Potency Cannabis Reduces Problematic Nerve Pain.