Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) impact nearly five million Americans each year. Some call the spinal cord an “information superhighway” because it’s what connects the brain to the nerves that provide feedback from all the different parts of the body. Because it plays such a crucial role in pain perception and bodily function, those who have a spinal cord injury can often have reduced quality of life.
While there are plenty of treatment options available to those dealing with a spinal cord injury, they aren’t always effective. Treatments such as acupuncture, cognitive restructuring, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and therapeutic massage are all viable options, but they can have mixed results and they’re not for everyone.
Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Spinal Cord Injuries
CBD activates a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A, which elevates serotonin levels in the brain. Low serotonin has been linked to both depression and anxiety, and usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to increase the amount of serotonin available in the brain. CBD oil works similarly to SSRIs but does not carry the same side effects as traditional antidepressant medications.
Because spinal cord injuries can leave people paralyzed, the sudden change in physical capability, and ultimately lifestyle, can bring on depression. While it’s no replacement for talk therapy, CBD oil may be an effective, supplementary option for dealing with the symptoms of depression.
In one study done on CBD oil’s pain-relieving effects, CBD was found to reduce chronic pain through its effect on glycine receptors in the central nervous system. These are inhibitory receptors that play a role in the perception of nerve pain. The study reads, “We report that systemic and intrathecal [spinal injection] administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a major non psychoactive component of marijuana, and its modified derivatives significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.”
Berliner J, Collins K, Coker J. Cannabis conundrum. Spinal Cord Ser and Cases. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41394-018-0097-0.
As health practitioners, we do remain polarized, preferring to interpret the data according to our bias. The data sadly is often not robust because of the difficulty of conducting reputable randomized research in patients with symptom complexes that are challenging to measure precisely.
National Academies of Sciences E, Medicine.. The health effects odf cannabis and cannabinoids: the current state of evidence & recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017.
The two authors discuss its use in pain of SCI origin and Berliner notes limited efficacy in spasticity. Neither mentions other possible uses.
Cannabis use in medicine continues to confound practitioners. There is confusing interpretation of the efficacy and adverse event data, highlighting the complexity of this unique plant. Cannabis may have a neuroprotective role in SCI.
In summary, cannabis challenges us in its complex effects within the Central Nervous System. Practitioners remain polarized as we await greater therapeutic outcome certainty.
Graves DE. Cannabis shenanigans: advocating for the restoration of an effective treatment of pain following spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord Ser and Cases. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41394-018-0096-1.
It’s caused by conditions such as:
The location of the damage to the spinal cord will determine which areas of the body are affected.
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1. Central Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is a type of pain involving damage to or dysfunction of the nerves and somatic sensors found throughout the body.
For this reason, we don’t recommend relying on CBD edibles as your everyday maintenance dose of CBD for neuropathic pain.
Depending on how severe the injury is, there are three main classifications that doctors use to describe the condition:
For this reason, it’s a good idea to work out the dose yourself to find out what’s best for you and your symptoms.