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Exploring Potentials: Can Cannabinoids Help Manage Sciatic Issues?

Updated: Jan 13

Many are familiar with that oh-so-uncomfortable pain that runs through the lower back to the legs; the sciatic nerve covers a vast and sensitive area that can produce intense pain when pushed too hard. The fact is that it's one of the most common types of pain that will affect up to 40% of all humans in various ways, some of which are debilitating. Causes of this type of pain vary from bone spurs to herniated discs.

The use of Hemp extracts is not going to change the structure of bones or create some miracle cure or treatment - but there's much to be said about how well cannabinoids may potentially control inflammation for patients with excruciating back pain issues.

At some time in your life, it's more than likely you'll feel this uncomfortable dilemma that takes people off their jobs and sometimes ends up being the cause for extensive treatments and addictions.

Causes of sciatic pain are exasperated by accompanying factors such as advanced age, passive lifestyle, obesity, and diabetes. Generally speaking, this heavy discomfort runs down one leg or the other, affecting just one side of the body. Individuals seeking help with sciatica may find little success with over-the-counter painkillers and often end up using pharmaceuticals that have side effects that could cause the pain to become worse, as well as that not-so-famous, not-so-rare issue with addiction to pharmaceutical drugs - namely opioids.

This causes many to turn to alternative treatments, from over-the-counter approved aids for pain, such as NSAIDs, to plant extracts in state MMJ programs and the Hemp Industry, such as CBD, CBG, THC, CBDa, and other types of cannabinoids. At the Global Cannabinoid Research Center, I also study nanotechnology and how it applies to all of this in a plant vs. oil vs. water comparison.

Could CBD also help with the management of sciatic pain? What does Research say?

Let's delve into current studies and see how the experts perceive hemp extracts to work for this issue. CBD doesn’t cure sciatica because it doesn’t target the main reason behind the sciatic pain. However, cannabinoids like CBD have been bringing remarkable results for relief in neuropathic and inflammatory pain, both of which occur in sciatica - and this is within scientific study - it's not an opinion. In a 2004 study, sciatic pain was classified as a combination of neuropathic and other kinds of pain. Another study by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) linked chronic sciatica to an inflamed nervous system.

Neuropathic pain often results from injuries or illnesses of the somatosensory system. This interesting system is an element of the sensory nervous system that controls pressure, pain, mobility, and sensitivity to touch, to name a few. Inflammation occurs within our bodies when the immune system releases a gust of antibodies in response to an infection or injury. This response will cause blood vessels to dilate to pump more blood into the injured tissue — causing some parts of the body to become red, painful, and swollen.

One large animal study found that the transdermal application of CBD helped reduce inflammation and behaviors associated with pain in rat subjects with arthritis. However, sciatica and arthritis are not the same medical conditions, and no study has yet investigated the effectiveness of CBD in easing sciatic pain. So, while CBD oil may not cure sciatica, its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties may come in handy for helping alleviate some of the pain experienced by sciatica sufferers.

As mentioned, CBD may be potentially helpful for sciatica patients when it comes to pain management, according to preliminary research. But let's keep in mind this is all about potential in medicine, it's not a cure and is yet to be an FDA-approved treatment. The key to understanding that mechanism lies in CBD’s relationship with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

(CBGa is a Cannabinoid that has athletes intrigued for use as a metabolic enhancement)

The ECS is a vast regulatory network consisting of receptors and transmitters that help the body maintain internal balance (homeostasis) throughout all biological functions, including brain function, immune communication, pain perception, and more - it controls our central nervous system. The ECS has three main components: cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that help metabolize cannabinoids.

The CB1 receptors are abundant in the brain, spinal cord, and tissues. CB2 receptors, in turn, occur in the peripheral nervous system and the immune system cells. These endocannabinoids are our native chemical messengers that bind to cannabinoid receptors and help the ECS maintain our gut, brain, and bodily health.

Most should know cannabinoids aren’t exclusive to humans, as even plants release them. Plant-derived cannabinoids are referred to as Phytocannabinoids, and you can find them in hemp or THC types of cannabis.

When CBD interacts with the ECS, it indirectly interacts with either CB1 or CB2 receptors depending on where it’s needed the most - the decision is made by our unique physiology. This interaction allows CBD to manifest its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect found in research studies that have the potential to be a long-term medicine, even a pharmaceutical, to alleviate sciatica without the use of opioids and other life-threatening medications that come with that side effect known as "Death."

Some know what Glutamate is - but people learning about the ECS must understand this critical compound in many of the body’s biological processes. Compromised glutamate can and will trigger the onset of injuries to our internal organs, and worsen external injuries, diseases, seizures, and even brain damage after a stroke. What countless research studies have found is that the hemp extract CBD and other cannabinoids are known to block the release of glutamate, which has an overwhelming promise to fight neuropathic pain, which is the common core problem in sciatica patients.

Hemp extracts are also known to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects and can ease the nerve pain experienced by people suffering from this condition. Studies have found that the body’s glutamatergic system affects the efficacy of some analgesic medications used in neuropathic pain treatments. This system is responsible for managing the discharge of glutamate, a neurotransmitter produced by the nerve cells in the brain.

The bottom line? Hemp extracts have such exceptional promise that pharmaceutical companies and biotech wizards around the globe are so interested in potential endocannabinoid and cannabinoid medications that some are already referring to their work on synthetics as 'the past' as they work on the potential plant extract medicines that we all need for the future.


Baron R, Binder A. Wie neuropathisch ist die Lumboischialgie? Das Mixed-pain-Konzept [How neuropathic is sciatica? The mixed pain concept]. Orthopade. 2004 May;33(5):568-75. German. doi: 10.1007/s00132-004-0645-0. PMID: 15067505

Akopian AN, Ruparel NB, Jeske NA, Patwardhan A, Hargreaves KM. Role of ionotropic cannabinoid receptors in peripheral antinociception and antihyperalgesia. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Feb;30(2):79-84. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Dec 11. PMID: 19070372; PMCID: PMC2863326

Valat JP, Genevay S, Marty M, Rozenberg S, Koes B. Sciatica. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2010 Apr;24(2):241-52. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2009.11.005. PMID: 20227645

Boswell MV, Trescot AM, Datta S, Schultz DM, Hansen HC, Abdi S, Sehgal N, Shah RV, Singh V, Benyamin RM, Patel VB, Buenaventura RM, Colson JD, Cordner HJ, Epter RS, Jasper JF, Dunbar EE, Atluri SL, Bowman RC, Deer TR, Swicegood JR, Staats PS, Smith HS, Burton AW, Kloth DS, Giordano J, Manchikanti L; American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Interventional techniques: evidence-based practice guidelines in the management of chronic spinal pain. Pain Physician. 2007 Jan;10(1):7-111. PMID: 17256025

Copyright © 2024 Mike Robinson, Global Cannabinoid Research Center. All rights reserved.


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