Can THC Help Relieve Nerve Pain?

Research suggests that THC may be beneficial for relieving nerve pain caused by diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Learn more about the potential benefits & side effects.

Can THC Help Relieve Nerve Pain?

Small clinical studies have demonstrated that cannabis can provide relief for peripheral neuropathy, such as reduced pain, improved sleep, and better functioning, even in patients with symptoms that are resistant to standard treatments.


(THC) can alter the perception of pain by reducing anxiety and stress, while cannabidiol (CBD) fights pain through its anti-inflammatory action. A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of an oral synthetic extract of THC and cannabis sativa plants in 16 patients with multiple sclerosis and severe spasticity (10 with secondary progressive MS and 6 with primary progressive MS). THC is fairly well absorbed in the intestine, but the process is slow, with large variations between and within individuals.

Two compounds found in cannabis, THC and CBD, are thought to contribute to its ability to relieve pain. In another double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, 38 patients with central or peripheral neuropathic pain syndrome were asked to smoke cannabis with 7% THC or 3.5% THC or a placebo for three 6-hour experimental sessions. The most significant effect was observed in the cannabis strain containing high doses of THC and CBD (Bediol). High blood sugar levels can damage nerves, so it is essential for people with diabetes to properly control their levels.

Cannabinoids can regulate the transmission of pain in the body's nerve pathways and potentially help reduce excessive pain. In addition to this, chemical compounds found in cannabis called cannabinoids bind to receptors in the brain and peripheral nervous system. THC mimics the natural endocannabinoid anandamide by reducing levels of the fatty acid enzyme amide hydrolase (FAAH), increasing levels of anandamide in the body, and decreasing (or distracting) the perception of pain. A study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of inhaled cannabis in diabetic neuropathy using THC concentrations of 1%, 4%, and 7%, as well as a placebo.

The main side effects reported were euphoria and drowsiness. The active drug treatment was a synthetic THC capsule (Marinol) and a cannabis extract containing 2.5 mg of THC, 1.25 mg of cannabidiol, and other components. A subsequent publication by the same authors that reported on the MUSEC study showed definite improvement in muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis with cannabis treatment. Overall, research suggests that THC may be beneficial for relieving nerve pain caused by diabetes or multiple sclerosis.