I was beat up and the attack partially severed my trigeminal facial nerve.
The result of the trigeminal nerve damage was this constant itching and burning. It compares to constant attacks by fire ants. The pain was always there, along with numbness plus a migraine 100% of the time.
The pills prescribed by my doctor left me a total zombie. After researching, I found a cannabis strain called “William’s Wonder.” Five days after starting cannabis, I was pill free aside from the 2 Aleve I continue to take today.
I smoke high grade cannabis three times a day. It took a bit to acclimatize to the high, but once I did, I found myself to be fully functional and 90% pain free.
I wish all of you the best on your journey to find YOUR cure.
From RxLeaf: The Excruciating Pain of Trigeminal Nerve Damage
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) describes trigeminal neuralgia as “the most excruciating pain known to humanity.” As Tim explains, the constant daily pain of a damaged trigeminal nerve feels like fire ants. Patients sometimes describe the pain as “intense, stabbing, [and] electric shock-like.”
The AANS estimates that as many as 150,000 Americans suffer from this condition. Trigeminal neuralgia is most common in people over the age of fifty, with more women than men experiencing it. While Tim doesn’t tell us the root cause of his condition, it usually comes down to a misfiring of the trigeminal nerve. This may be from an injury, a tumor, a side effect of multiple sclerosis, or another irritation. As per the AANS, many patients link the development of trigeminal neuralgia with dental surgery or a car accident.
Some patients, like Tim, experience daily chronic pain from trigeminal neuralgia. Others report that the onset follows a relatively benign trigger. Putting on makeup, scratching the face, shaving, talking, or even emotional expressions can all unravel into debilitating pain.
The current pharmaceutical approach to the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia typically includes anticonvulsant medicines, such as carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, topiramate, clonazepam, valproic acid, and others. These medications help to block the trigeminal nerve from inappropriately firing, but are not always useful depending on the root cause. A secondary option for treatment is much more invasive – surgical.
But what if there was another option for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia that didn’t involve potent pharmaceuticals nor invasive surgery? The anticonvulsant qualities of cannabis could be extremely applicable for some instances of trigeminal neuralgia.
The Potential Benefits of Cannabis for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Cannabinoids are well established within the scientific literature as anticonvulsants for seizure disorders as well as proven pain relievers, especially for chronic neuropathic pain. Tim is adamant that medical cannabis helped him return to a normal life, even helping him reduce and eliminate all medications (except his daily dose of Advil). Does the research support this?
There is much in the way of clinical research into cannabis’ anti-seizure and analgesic activity. However, the research into cannabis for trigeminal nerve pain is in its infancy. In 2019, in the pages of Neurology, authors Laszlo Mechtler, Paul Hart, Vincent Bargnes, and Nicolas Saikali compiled a retrospective chart review of trigeminal neuralgia patients who were consuming medical cannabis. Mechtler, L., Hart, P., Bargnes, V., & Saikali, N. (2019). Medical Cannabis Treatment in Patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Neurology, 92, 10–20.
The results from this study, which looked at a group of forty-two patients, discovered substantial improvements for a majority following medical cannabis treatment. Over eighty percent of people reported improvements with medical cannabis. Another fifty percent reduced their reliance on opioid medications.
The most common side effects (reported in forty percent of patients) were fatigue, sleepiness, nausea, and dizziness. However, with only two patients dropping out due to these adverse incidents, the authors concluded cannabis is “well tolerated in the treatment of [trigeminal neuralgia].”
A Study on Cannabis and Trigeminal Neuralgia
Although small, this study is remarkable in the details it was able to pull out of patient reports. The authors even had enough information from the participants to suggest a ratio of medication. They report that a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD works best to reduce symptoms. More research is needed, but this suggests benefits from the entourage effect of cannabinoids.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a relatively rare but debilitating condition caused by damage to the trigeminal nerve. The current treatments (pharmaceutical and invasive) are not always appealing to the patients receiving them. As Tim says, the medications reduced the pain but left him like a zombie. Moving to cannabisfurther improved his quality of life, and returned a sense of normalcy. Far from being the only patient with trigeminal neuralgia, the 2019 study highlights other patients who experienced significant improvements.
|↑1||Mechtler, L., Hart, P., Bargnes, V., & Saikali, N. (2019). Medical Cannabis Treatment in Patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Neurology, 92, 10–20.|