For more information on dosing, check out our dosage guide, or consider having a consultation with a naturopathic doctor who can give you the most personalized action plan.
For those dealing with a spinal cord injury, pain medications are often prescribed, but due to their many side effects and risk for addiction, many patients are looking elsewhere for relief. One such alternative option which has been getting a lot of attention lately is cannabidiol (CBD).
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.
How to Take CBD Oil for Spinal Cord Injuries
Before taking CBD oil it is essential that you first speak to a doctor. CBD oil is fairly safe but it can interact with some medications so it is important to get the all-clear before starting.
If you can’t find a starting dosage, at CBD Oil Review, we have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with the following:
Lastly as part of the 2014 Spinal Cord Injury Wellness Summit at the University of Washington, Dr. Gregory T. Carter spoke on the advantages of using medical marijuana, and CBD specifically, to treat the painful symptoms of spinal cord conditions like ALS. He suggested using high-CBD and low-THC cannabis strains to find pain relief without the intoxication often associated with recreational marijuana use. Furthermore, when speaking on a review of 18 human studies examining cannabis’ analgesic properties performed as part of the summit, Carter states, “we now know on the basis of science and clinical trials that cannabis and cannabinoids work very well for neuropathic [nerve] pain and spasticity.”
CBD oil tinctures and drops are applied directly under the tongue and show effects within 30 minutes and can last 2 to 4 hours. This delivery format provides superior dosage control making it easy to shift up or down as needed.
Other than the hassle of having to go to a dispensary to replenish her CBD supply, Oliver’s only complaint is that CBD’s high cost makes her hesitate to try other brands or delivery methods. “I don’t want to invest in other products because of the risk of it not working.” Like Burns, she hasn’t noticed any side effects to the supplement, only the benefits.
Another value of CBD for Burns is the ability to take less medication. Taking muscle relaxers made him foggy in the morning, hampering his ability to enjoy his life as a father of twins and a successful businessman in the medical supply industry.
Carter doesn’t have enough scientific evidence to conclusively say that CBD works as well as the entire plant, including THC. Many experts suggest that a full-spectrum product using all the cannabinoids would be best to get the most value. His suggested dosage is based on studies, saying, “the available data would indicate that most people can get a beneficial antispasmodic and analgesic effect by using average daily doses of under 5 mg per day, although some may require a larger amount to obtain relief.”
Helping Many Symptoms
With a legal product easily available across the country, people with disabilities have begun to explore relief in many forms. For spinal cord injury specifically, many claim CBD helps with stress and anxiety, inflammation, neuropathy, chronic pain, spasticity and sleeplessness — all without the high from the THC.
As a physiatrist in Washington state, Dr. Gregory T. Carter is no stranger to people with spinal cord injury using CBD and cannabis products. “The vast majority of my patients with SCI are using some form of cannabis,” he says. “There is still much we need to learn about cannabidiol. However, there is good animal model evidence that the cannabinoids work, at least partially, through some of the same pathways as baclofen.”
Currently, Burns doesn’t have everyday pain that he treats with CBD but uses the oil every night to assist in a good night’s sleep. “Even though I take medication for muscle spasms, I’d wake up literally every two hours. I never really got a good night’s sleep because my legs had spasms. I’d take it and within 15 minutes, I would be out and sleep great all night long. The next morning I wouldn’t wake up groggy at all.” In fact, with the CBD, Burns doesn’t seem to have any side effects — just the benefit of quality rest.
Like Burns, after a long day in her wheelchair, Oliver counts on CBD to make sleeping easier. A few gummy cubes taken a couple of hours before bed relieves tension so she can get quality rest. “All my muscles seem to be letting go,” she says.
There are no FDA approved medications specifically for the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Prescription drugs are used to alleviate symptoms. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, individuals may experience pain, muscle spasms, bowel and bladder control issues, and sexual dysfunction.
Incomplete spinal cord damage is the loss of some sensory perceptions and motor functions below the injury. Depending on the location and seriousness, an incomplete injury can cause varying degrees of impairment throughout the body.
A common complication of spinal cord injury is muscle spasms, especially in the back. Muscle spasm can be a result of the injury itself or being in a sustained sitting or lying down position for an extended time. Using marijuana for back spasms can help ease the duration and pain associated with the contractions.
Types and Levels of Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is any damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, or discs of the spinal column, or to the cord itself. A hard hit, gunshot wound, or knife laceration that penetrates or cuts the cord can cause severe injury. Often, the damage occurs due to a traumatic blow to the back that fractures, dislocates, crushes, bursts, or compresses one or more of the vertebrae. Overextending the back too far one way or the other can also cause harm to the spinal column. The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are traumatic accidents. These include car accidents, falls, diving incidences, violence, and sports.
Experimental treatments are another option used to alleviate symptoms and improve recovery. According to the American Academy of Neurology, a new treatment involves lowering the individual’s body temperature (causing hypothermia) for 24 to 48 hours to prevent damaging inflammation. Other promising therapies include cannabinoids for nerve regeneration and preventing cell death. Also, CBD for nerve regeneration to reduce harmful inflammation throughout the body, and cannabis for muscle spasms.
Complete spinal cord damage causes loss of all sensory feelings and the ability to control body movements below the wounded area.
The best treatment is a team approach. Individuals with spinal cord injuries often remain in hospitals and rehabilitation centers for extended periods. The care providers involved may include medical doctors, physiatrists, rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation psychiatrists, dieticians, recreation therapists, and social workers. Ongoing care helps to prevent any secondary problems. Sitting or lying in one position may cause pressure ulcers and blood clots, bowel & bladder issues, respiratory infections, and muscle weakness.