In November 2016, Cannabis Science announced 2 new pharmaceutical developments in the form of cannabis skin patches for pain. Representatives claim the skin patch will be more effective than cannabis-based topical creams, pills, or injections due to its more accurate dosing (1).
Currently, the skin patches are not yet available and no official date has been given by Cannabis Science for clinical trials. Nevertheless, should research and development progress as expected, the cannabis skin patch could prove to be a much-needed new option for treating complicated chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathy.
Does Cannabis Work for Treating Pain?
The most common natural plant cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) are: THC, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN). While the majority of research and public attention has been directed at THC, the new skin patch development uses the CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol(1).
Research shows that CBD has several beneficial properties, including (5):
- analgesic (pain relief)
- greater antioxidant activity than vitamins C or E
CBD is a non-euphoriant, and some research actually suggests that this particular cannabinoid reduces the effect of the other euphoriant cannabinoids, lessening their psychoactive effects including panic, anxiety, intoxication, and heart palpitations. In short, taking isolated CBD will not alter your state of mind like smoking or consuming marijuana would.
Cannabis Science CEO, Raymond Dabney states, “As more states nationwide legislate for the legalization of Cannabis and Cannabis derived medications, we here at Cannabis Science are focused on developing pharmaceutical formulations and applications to supply the huge growing demand expected over the coming few years.”
Thanks to a growing body of research exploring the medical uses of cannabis, and a cultural openness to medical marijuana use, the cannabis skin patch may soon be a real option available to those suffering from painful conditions like diabetic nerve damage and fibromyalgia.
Diabetic Neuropathy and Cannabis
Diabetic neuropathy is a group of nerve disorders associated with diabetes. While nerve damage can start at any point for those with diabetes, people who have had diabetes for 25 years or more or who have difficulty managing their blood sugar or blood pressure levels, have the highest risk (2).
Since nerve damage can occur in every organ system, symptoms can be varied. Some people with nerve damage won’t experience any noticeable symptoms at all. The 4 main types of diabetic nerve damage come with their own unique set of symptoms:
Diabetic Nerve Damage Symptoms
1. Peripheral Neuropathy: The most common type of neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which usually manifests in hands and feet as (2):
- sharp pain
- sensitivity to touch and temperature
2. Autonomic Neuropathy: This type of nerve damage affects the cardiovascular system, eyes, digestive tract, sex organs, urinary tract, and sweat glands. Symptoms include (2):
- noticeable changes in digestion and bladder function
- sexual dysfunction in both men and women
- inability to manifest usual warning signs of low blood sugar
- trouble seeing at night
- profuse sweating
3. Proximal Neuropathy: Proximal neuropathy is localized in the legs. It’s associated with (2):
- pain in legs, hips, thighs or bottom
- noticeable weakness in leg muscles
4. Focal Neuropathy: This form of nerve damage can affect any nerve in the body (but most often in the head and arms), causing weakness and pain. Other symptoms include (2):
- vision problems, aching around eyes
- facial paralysis
- acute pain in chest, stomach or abdominals
How Is Diabetic Nerve Damage Treated?
Conventionally, doctors will prescribe patients with diabetic nerve damage painkillers, anticonvulsants or antidepressants such as oxycodone, Ultram, amitriptyline, Cymbalta, or Lyrica. Additionally, they will work with the patient to help keep blood sugar levels balanced.
Should Cannabis Science’s skin patch go through clinical trials and be approved by the FDA, it would provide a more natural and effective way to manage pain from diabetic nerve damage without risk of addiction (a massive problem with opioid prescriptions).
Fibromyalgia and Cannabis
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic condition often grouped together with arthritis, although it is not an arthritic condition. Fibromyalgia affects mostly women. A 2008 report estimated that about 5 million adult Americans suffer from fibromyalgia (4). Sufferers of fibromyalgia experience chronic non-localized pain, tenderness, and intense fatigue. Sometimes, fibromyalgia is accompanied by other symptoms including (3):
- brain fog
- morning stiffness
- restless leg syndrome
- painful menstrual cramps
- irritable bowel syndrome
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia can be tricky to treat; this is complicated by the fact that many medical providers are not familiar with fibromyalgia or its various treatments. The FDA has currently approved 3 drugs for fibromyalgia treatment: Duloxetine, Milnacipran, and Pregabalin.
The Cannabis Science skin patch might be a promising treatment option for many fibromyalgia patients, especially those for whom the 3 current drugs don’t have an effect. It would also provide a less risky solution than the current drugs, which come with their own long lists of side effects and long-term risks.
Help us spread awareness of this potential new treatment by sharing this article with your friends and family. We will continue to follow the development of the Cannabis Science skin patch and provide updates as new studies and trial information becomes available.