(NaturalHealth365) About half of the 29 million-plus Americans with diabetes suffer diabetic neuropathy, with 15 percent significantly bothered by the pain. While conventional anti-inflammatory drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating the condition, which most often affects the feet, many patients have deemed these drugs ineffective. That’s why there is a growing interest in the use of cannabis.
Great news: A study out of California finds that diabetics suffering from the pain of diabetic neuropathy could get much-needed relief naturally with cannabis, often described as medical marijuana. Researchers there found that inhaling cannabis provides relief for hours to patients suffering from this serious complication of the disease.
Nerve damage can bring serious, even fatal, complications
Over 9 percent of the U.S. population lives with the effects of diabetes, and it ranks as the 7th leading cause of death in the country. Chronic high blood sugar can damage nerve fibers throughout your body, although diabetic neuropathy is most often noticed in the lower extremities.
Some patient may suffer only mild symptoms, while others endure more serious pain. In its most severe of cases, diabetic neuropathy can be disabling and even fatal.
Patients experience relief without the toxic effects of conventional treatments
But a recent randomized study from the University of California at San Diego brings new hope for the control of pain – at least for those living in areas that allow the use of medical marijuana. Researchers there found that allowing patients to inhale cannabis was effective in reducing diabetic neuropathy pain for up to several hours. According to Mark Steven Wallace, M.D., chair of the University’s Division of Pain Management and lead author of the study, the more concentrated the dose, the more relief people experienced.
Results of the study were published in the July issue of the Journal of Pain. Sixteen patients reporting pain in their feet due to diabetes-related nerve damage took part in the study. They were randomly assigned to inhale one of three dosage levels of cannabis via vaporization, which is achieved by heating the leaf to a certain point that allows the release of active ingredients without sending the leaf up in smoke.
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Some of the 16 participants instead received a placebo. After a two week-break, they crossed over to a different dosage and repeated the test. Vaporization was of interest because it allows the effects of cannabis to peak sooner while preventing hazardous carbon monoxide associated with burning the leaves.
While the patients did experience a high, which varied in intensity based on the dosage received, they also reported effective pain relief. They not only indicated that their spontaneous pain was reduced, but they were less bothered by stimuli applied to the more painful areas of their feet.
Study subjects reported that the pain relief lasted approximately four hours. Those receiving a placebo instead experienced pain intensity higher than any of the treatment groups throughout the study. Among the test subjects, those receiving the highest dose reported the most effective management of their pain.
About half of all states, plus Washington D.C., currently allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes, although laws vary considerably from state to state. There are significant legal differences between the legalities of medical cannabis at the state level versus the federal level, where it remains classified as a federally controlled substance due to implementation of the Controlled Substances Act.
However, federal resources are no longer targeting patients with serious illnesses nor their caregivers, as long s they comply with state laws. Advocacy groups for medical marijuana continue to push for FDA approval of cannabis as a recognized medicine.
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