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CBD and Lotions: Leg and Foot Health for People With Diabetes

Author: Dr. Kim Langdon Cull

Cannabis is an ancient remedy for a variety of ailments and came to Western civilization in the 1800’s being touted as an analgesic and a healing remedy for ailments such as migraine and epilepsy. In 1845, Donovan (Ireland) found it to be useful for neuropathic pain, including trigeminal neuralgia (a painful condition of the facial nerve). There are centuries-old reports of the use of extracts from the cannabis plant being applied topically to open cutaneous wounds to promote wound healing and relieving wound-related pain. Preclinical animal models have demonstrated significant less topical pain using a synthetic cannabinoid applied topically. According to Klein et al., CBD exerts an antiinflammatory effect in early phase of wound healing process in rats. All the studies conducted on immune responses and inflammation demonstrate that CBD is immune suppressive and anti-inflammatory. Topical lotions containing CBD are widespread and are used in lip balms, cosmetics, and massage oils for the prevention and promotion of healthy tissues.

What is Cannabis or Cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol or CBD is not yet well-known, but chemically, CBD is one of more than 80 chemical substances known as cannabinoids, which are all found in the cannabis plant. Hemp is one such cannabis plant known as Cannabis sativa. CBD is the second most abundant substance in cannabis, typically representing up to 40% of its extracts. They are considered anti-oxidants and neuroprotectants. Inflammation and pain are relieved by anti-oxidants and neuroprotectants, respectively. The good news is that CBD is entirely free of the mind-altering THC since it comes from the hemp plant.  “Industrial hemp” is legal in the United States since it contains the high CBD strains with no THC.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Recently, it has been discovered that the human body possesses an endocannabinoid (endo means inside the body) system that relies on the natural production of endogenous cannabinoids to function correctly. Omega-3 fatty acids also found in fish oils and are the precursor to the body's own production of cannabinoids.

The benefits of CBD supplementation are numerous, and when the body is deficient in their natural production, there are various ways to restore the levels. The primary benefits of CBD are stimulation of the endocannabinoid system which promotes homeostasis within the body, reduces sensations of pain, and inhibits inflammatory processes. In painful conditions like skin ulcers, elevated inflammatory chemicals result in a decrease CB1 receptor function which makes the body unable to relieve the pain associated with these conditions.

CBD Helps Nerve Pain and Promotes Healing

Neuropathic pain is often described as a shooting or burning pain. It can come and go but is often chronic. It can be unrelenting and severe, and is often the result of nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system. In the case of diabetes, it is thought that the chronic elevation of blood glucose causes the vessels changes near the nerves, leaving behind inflammation and low oxygen levels. The impact is nerve damage and a change in nerve function.

The ideal methods of pain relief for wounds or in the prevention of wounds are modalities that are topical, lack systemic side effects, noninvasive, self-administered, and display rapid onset of analgesia. Extracts derived from the cannabis plant have been applied to wounds for thousands of years. The discovery of the human endocannabinoid system and its dominant presence throughout the skin provides a valid and logical scientific platform to consider the use of topical cannabinoids for skin health and wounds. There was a recent report of patients with pyoderma gangrenosum (a painful skin condition that leads to ulcers of the lower extremeties), treated with topical medical cannabis compounded in organic sunflower oil, had clinically significant pain-relief. Topical medical cannabis has the potential to improve pain management in patients suffering from wounds of all classes and could also help with neuropathic pain.

Conclusion

CBD-Containing creams, lotions, and oils are often applied to the skin to ease muscle or joint pain. Most topicals do not enter the bloodstream, unless there are small tears in the skin, but they do affect local cannabinoid receptors in the skin, and that eases swelling and pain form nerve damage.

References

Klein M, de Quadros De Bortolli J, Gonçalves F, Salum K, Antonia CM, de Figueiredo Z,  Effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, on oral wound healing process in rats: Clinical and histological evaluationVolume32, Issue11November 2018Pages 2275-2281

Maida, V, Corban J,vTopical Medical Cannabis: A New Treatment for Wound Pain—Three Cases of Pyoderma GangrenosumJournal of Pain and Symptom Management, Volume 54, Issue 5, 732 - 736 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2017.06.005

James M. Nichols and Barbara L.F. Kaplan, Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 10.1089/can.2018.0073, (2019).

Donovan M. (1845). On the physical and medicinal qualities of Indian hemp (Cannabis indica); with observations on the best mode of administration and cases illustrative of its powers. Dubl. J. Med. Sci. 26, 368–402. 10.1007/bf02971741 

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