Though gabapentin is effective at reducing nerve pain, it also has a lot of negative side effects. As a result, many people are seeking natural alternatives.
What about hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD)?
Can CBD replace gabapentin, or can it help in some other way?
In this article, we’ll compare CBD to gabapentin. We’ll also discuss how to about incorporating CBD into your regimen for dealing with nerve pain.
- CBD is most effective when used to supplement gabapentin, rather than replace it.
- Using CBD can reduce the amount of gabapentin you need to take — but it can’t replace prescriptions altogether.
- Since gabapentin is not metabolized, it is not dangerous to use in conjunction with CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid that’s found in the hemp plant. It’s one of more than 100+ cannabinoids that naturally occur in hemp, and it’s one of the most popular (along with THC).
Preliminary research indicates that CBD may be effective at addressing pain, anxiety, stress, sleep disturbances, inflammation, and more.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is a medication in the drug class of anticonvulsants. Gabapentin was originally developed to treat seizures, but it’s now commonly used for treating nerve pain and restless leg syndrome.
What is Nerve Pain, and What Causes It?
Nerve pain, or neuralgia, is pain caused by damage to or the injury of the nerves that feel pain. It may also stem from damage to the brain itself. It’s commonly characterized as a stabbing, shooting, or burning sensation.
Nerve pain can be caused by multiple sclerosis, diabetes, stroke, and cancer, as well as by infections like shingles and HIV/AIDS.
Additionally, conditions such as sciatica, fibromyalgia, and peripheral neuropathy can cause nerve pain.
Treatments for nerve pain (apart from addressing the root cause of it) include:
- Physical therapy
- Relaxation therapy
- Massage therapy
- Medicines such as gabapentin, pregabalin, topiramate, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine
Typically, multiple modes of treatment are required to address nerve pain. Patients aren’t just given gabapentin, in other words — they might also undergo physical therapy and acupuncture.
Can CBD Help With Nerve Pain?
Where does CBD fit into nerve pain treatment? Does it fit in at all?
Currently, there is no research showing that CBD is a viable replacement for gabapentin. But there was a study done in Denmark that shows CBD can help reduce the amount of gabapentin that patients need to take.
The study looked at those who were using either medical cannabis or cannabis-based medicines (such as CBD) to address neuropathic pain (a type of nerve pain) and other unspecified types of pain.
The research found that neuropathic pain patients who were using CBD, THC, or a combination of both cannabinoids used less gabapentin than those who did not.
And neuropathic pain patients using any kind of cannabis medicine were hospitalized for fewer total days than those who were not.
Reducing the amount of gabapentin you need to take might seem like a trivial benefit. But if you consider the side effects of gabapentin, it’s clear that CBD can have a positive impact on nerve pain.
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CBD vs. Gabapentin: Side Effects
Compared to gabapentin, CBD has very few (and not very severe) side effects.
Potential side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
Potential side effects of Gabapentin include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty speaking
- Recurring infections
- Memory loss
- Unusual eye movements and double vision
- Weight gain
- Coordination problems & tremors
As you can see, gabapentin has a lot of downsides, even though it’s a highly effective painkiller.
Taking these downsides into account, it seems that CBD can help patients experience fewer downsides as they undergo nerve pain treatment due to its ability to reduce gabapentin reliance.
CBD vs. Gabapentin: Is CBD A Better Alternative to Gabapentin?
So, is CBD an alternative to gabapentin?
Based on what we know, it makes more sense to use CBD to supplement gabapentin, rather than replace it.
From a strength and efficacy standpoint, gabapentin will bring more intense relief than CBD will. It’s medically proven as a painkiller.
CBD provides physical relaxation too, but it’s more subtle. CBD provides benefits in a variety of ways; research suggests it may reduce inflammation and improve sleep. Because of this, CBD can reduce the amount of gabapentin you need to take — but it can’t replace prescriptions altogether.
CBD functions in a fundamentally different way than gabapentin does — neither is necessarily more effective. Instead, they can each play a role in supporting your health as you navigate nerve pain.
Does CBD Cause Drug Interactions with Gabapentin?
Before you integrate CBD into your regimens, it’s always important to know whether it will interact with any medications you’re already taking.
CBD does have some interactions with some drugs, but not with Gabapentin.
This is because gabapentin is not metabolized (or transformed by the body such that it can be easily eliminated), and it does not need to be broken down by liver enzymes.
This is normally where CBD can cause problems: by inhibiting liver enzymes, CBD prevents drugs from being broken down, causing them to build up in the liver in what can sometimes be toxic concentrations.
But since gabapentin is not metabolized, it is not dangerous to use in conjunction with CBD.
How to Use CBD for Nerve Pain
If you’re going to use CBD for nerve pain, here’s what you need to know.
If you’re using CBD to supplement gabapentin, we recommend you start with a low-strength dose until you get a feel for how CBD works.
(0.1) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your CBD dose in mg
We use weight-based formulas, rather than standard dosage sizes, because the amount of CBD you’ll need to use in order to see good results is dependent on how much you weigh.
Here are the different ways you can take CBD — it’s not just CBD oil:
- CBD oil – CBD oil is hemp extract and carrier oil. Unlike edibles, CBD oil is taken under the tongue, not swallowed. Simply put the oil under your tongue, and wait a few minutes for it to absorb into the blood vessels in your mouth. After taking CBD oil, you’ll feel the effects in 10-15 minutes.
- Edibles and drinks – CBD edibles and drinks are a great option if you don’t like the way CBD oil tastes. Since edibles are digested, it can take up to an hour to begin feeling the effects.
- Soft gels – Softgel capsules are CBD oil inside a digestible gel capsule. They provide a quick, easy way to get CBD. Like edibles, you’ll feel the effects from capsules within an hour.
You can also smoke a CBD-rich flower, however, for nerve pain, we don’t recommend this consumption method for two reasons:
- Most flower has a lot of THC in it, and there are conflicting reports about whether THC is beneficial for nerve pain, or whether the side effects of it make things worse.
- Smoking of any kind — whether it be cannabis (hemp and marijuana) or tobacco — is associated with harm to the nervous system, which is counterproductive to improving nerve pain.
Conclusion: Is CBD An Alternative to Gabapentin?
So, should you replace gabapentin with CBD for nerve pain?
Based on the research that’s been done so far, no, you shouldn’t — rather, use it to reduce the amount of gabapentin you need to take in order to maintain a good quality of life.
Since gabapentin has a lot of side effects, using less of it (while taking CBD) will render a noticeable improvement in how you feel.
It’s also a good idea to speak with your doctor before you begin taking CBD. Though CBD won’t cause drug interactions with gabapentin, a medical professional will be able to advise you on how best to use it.
CBD Oil vs. Gabapentin for Nerve Pain: FAQs
Here are some questions we’ve been asked by customers about using CBD for nerve pain.
Can you take CBD with gabapentin for pain?
Yes — CBD can help you reduce the need for gabapentin, and using the two together won’t cause any negative interactions.
Does CBD actually stop pain?
While we don’t know if CBD can treat pain and inflammation, it does appear to have some benefits for those dealing with pain.
Several studies have explored the potential pain-relieving effects of CBD. Research reviews have concluded that CBD may be a therapeutic agent for neuropathic pain, chronic pain, and inflammatory pain.
Which cannabinoid is best for nerve pain?
Among the various cannabinoids that occur in hemp, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) have been studied for their potential effects on nerve pain.
Researchers have found that a combination of CBD and THC in a 1:1 ratio was effective in reducing pain intensity and improving sleep in patients with neuropathic pain.
So there really isn’t a “best” cannabinoid for nerve pain — CBD and THC are better when used together!