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Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a common neurological disorder that results from damage to the peripheral nerves, which are responsible for transmitting signals between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. This damage can lead to various symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and impaired coordination. Peripheral neuropathy has many potential causes, including diabetes, autoimmune disorders, infections, and exposure to toxins. Treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on the underlying cause and may involve medications for symptom management, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial in preventing further nerve damage and improving the quality of life for those affected.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a neurological disorder that occurs when the peripheral nerves, which connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body, become damaged or dysfunctional. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms and complications, depending on the affected nerves.


The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary based on the type of nerves affected (sensory, motor, or autonomic) and may include:

  1. Pain: Sharp, burning, or throbbing pain, often worse at night.
  2. Numbness and tingling: Loss of sensation or “pins and needles” feeling in the affected area, typically in the hands or feet.
  3. Muscle weakness: Difficulty in moving the affected limbs, leading to reduced strength and coordination.
  4. Sensitivity to touch: Increased sensitivity to touch, even light contact, can cause discomfort or pain.
  5. Balance problems: Difficulty maintaining balance due to sensory deficits.
  6. Autonomic symptoms: These can include changes in sweating, heat intolerance, gastrointestinal issues, bladder dysfunction, and abnormal blood pressure or heart rate.


Peripheral neuropathy can result from various causes, including:

  1. Diabetes: The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy, with high blood sugar levels damaging the nerves over time.
  2. Autoimmune diseases: Conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome can cause nerve inflammation and damage.
  3. Infections: Viral or bacterial infections, such as Lyme disease, shingles, or hepatitis C, can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
  4. Vitamin deficiencies: Deficiencies in vitamins B12, B6, and E can contribute to nerve damage.
  5. Toxins and medications: Exposure to certain chemicals or medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can cause peripheral neuropathy.
  6. Inherited disorders: Some genetic conditions, like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can cause inherited peripheral neuropathy.


While not all cases of peripheral neuropathy can be prevented, some measures can help reduce the risk or manage existing symptoms:

  1. Manage underlying conditions: Properly managing conditions like diabetes can help prevent or slow down the progression of peripheral neuropathy.
  2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can support nerve health.
  3. Check vitamin levels: Ensuring adequate intake of vitamins B12, B6, and E through diet or supplements can help prevent neuropathy due to deficiencies.
  4. Avoid exposure to toxins: Limiting exposure to environmental toxins and being cautious with medications that may contribute to nerve damage can help prevent peripheral neuropathy.

It is essential for individuals with peripheral neuropathy and their families to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive care plan tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy

Medical marijuana has shown promise in helping manage certain symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and improving the quality of life for individuals with the condition. It may help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and potentially aid in nerve regeneration.

How does medical marijuana help?

Medical marijuana may aid in managing peripheral neuropathy through the following mechanisms:

  1. Pain relief: Medical marijuana has been shown to provide relief from various types of pain, including neuropathic pain associated with peripheral neuropathy.
  2. Anti-inflammatory properties: Certain cannabinoids have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation around the affected nerves.
  3. Nerve protection and regeneration: Some studies suggest that cannabinoids may have neuroprotective properties, potentially promoting nerve healing and regeneration.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Peripheral Neuropathy

Certain cannabinoids may be effective in addressing symptoms related to peripheral neuropathy:

  1. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): THC can provide potent pain relief, particularly for neuropathic pain. However, it is essential to use low doses and monitor its psychoactive side effects, such as increased anxiety or cognitive impairment.
  2. CBD (cannabidiol): CBD has demonstrated potential benefits in reducing inflammation, providing pain relief, and potentially promoting nerve regeneration.

Some terpenes that may help in managing peripheral neuropathy symptoms include:

  1. Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to pain relief and symptom management in patients with peripheral neuropathy.
  2. Linalool: Linalool possesses sedative and anxiolytic properties, which could potentially aid in managing sleep disturbances and anxiety often experienced by those with peripheral neuropathy.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional experienced in cannabinoid medicine when considering medical marijuana as a treatment for managing peripheral neuropathy symptoms. They can help determine the appropriate strains, ratios of cannabinoids, and dosages tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects and efficacy of medical marijuana in managing peripheral neuropathy. It is also important to note that medical marijuana should not be considered a substitute for conventional treatments prescribed by a healthcare provider.

Dosage and Consumption Methods

Recommended dosage:

Figuring out the right dose of medical marijuana can be hard because people’s reactions to cannabinoids and terpenes can be very different. Factors such as the specific condition being treated, the patient’s weight, metabolism, and prior experience with cannabis all play a role in determining the right dosage.
Most of the time, it is best to start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you get the effects you want while minimising any possible side effects. For patients who are new to medical marijuana, starting with 2.5–5 mg of THC or CBD and slowly titrating upwards is often advised.

However, consulting a healthcare professional experienced in medical marijuana is essential to developing a personalised dosing plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Consumption methods:

There are several methods of consuming medical marijuana, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some common consumption methods include:

  1. Inhalation (smoking or vaping): Inhalation provides rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes, making it suitable for patients requiring immediate relief. However, smoking may pose respiratory risks, while vaping has been associated with lung injuries in some cases.
  2. Oral ingestion (edibles, capsules, tinctures): Ingesting medical marijuana provides longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation but has a slower onset, typically taking 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt. This method is suitable for patients requiring sustained relief but may require careful dosing to avoid overconsumption.
  3. Topical application (creams, balms, patches): Topicals can provide localised relief for conditions such as arthritis or skin disorders without producing psychoactive effects. The onset of action and duration of effects can vary depending on the product formulation and individual absorption rates.
  4. Sublingual administration (tinctures, dissolvable strips): Sublingual products are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue, providing rapid onset of effects without the need for inhalation or ingestion. This method offers discreet consumption and precise dosing.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card

Why get a medical marijuana card?

Getting a medical marijuana card is helpful for patients who are looking for other ways to treat their conditions.

  1. Legal protection: A medical marijuana card allows patients to possess, use, and in some cases, cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, within their state’s legal limits.
  2. Access to quality products: Medical marijuana dispensaries offer a wide range of tested and regulated cannabis products, ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication.
  3. Tax savings: In some states, medical marijuana patients are exempt from certain taxes applied to recreational cannabis sales.
  4. Professional guidance: Medical marijuana cardholders have access to healthcare professionals who can provide personalised recommendations, dosing advice, and ongoing support.

How to apply:

The process of obtaining a medical marijuana card varies by state but generally involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with Medical marijuana consultants to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition and obtain a written recommendation.
  2. Complete an application with the required documentation, including proof of residency, identification, and the healthcare professional’s recommendation.
  3. Submit the application to the appropriate state agency, along with any required fees.
  4. Await approval and issuance of the medical marijuana card.

Risks and Side Effects

Potential risks:

While medical marijuana can offer relief and improve the quality of life for many patients, it also carries certain risks and side effects. Some potential risks associated with medical marijuana use include:

  1. Dependency and addiction: Although the risk of addiction is considered lower than that of opioids or alcohol, some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis.
  2. Impaired cognitive function: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair memory, attention, and reaction times, particularly with prolonged or heavy use.
  3. Respiratory issues: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and lung irritation. Vaping has also been linked to lung injuries in some cases.
  4. Mental health concerns: High doses of THC or predisposition to mental health disorders can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  5. Drug interactions: Medical marijuana may interact with other medications, either enhancing or diminishing their effects. It is essential to discuss potential drug interactions with a healthcare professional before starting medical marijuana therapy.


Medical marijuana might not be right for every patient, especially those who already have certain health problems or risk factors. Contraindications to medical marijuana use may include:

  1. Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  2. Severe liver or kidney disease
  3. Severe cardiovascular disease
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  5. History of psychosis or other severe mental health disorders
  6. Allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or its components

Legal Status

Where is it legal?

In the United States, the laws about medical marijuana are always changing. Currently, over 30 states and the District of Columbia allow its use under certain conditions. Each state has its own rules and a list of medical conditions that are allowed to use medical marijuana.

Even though some states have made medical marijuana legal, it is still illegal at the federal level because it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This difference between state and federal laws can make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get jobs, find housing, or travel across state lines, among other things. Patients should research their state’s guidelines and remain aware of potential legal risks.


Medical marijuana could help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people with long-term or debilitating illnesses.

When thinking about this treatment option, it’s important to know the right dose, how to use it, how to get a medical marijuana card, possible risks, side effects, and legal status.

Work closely with a doctor or nurse who knows a lot about medical marijuana to find out if it is a good and safe choice for your needs.

As the legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana continues to evolve, staying informed about changing regulations and guidelines is essential to ensuring responsible and compliant use.

As the field of medical marijuana continues to evolve, it’s crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest research and developments. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, but it’s always important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.