Cannabinoids for Trigeminal Neuralgia: Relief from the Fire Ants in a Feather’s Touch

Patient Experience
Although there do not yet appear to be any human studies of cannabinoids used in the treatment of TN, there are however many anecdotal reports available concerning TN patient experience with preparations of cannabis to alleviate a degree of their pain.

Sherrie Toland, 40, having especially rare bilateral TN since childhood, has been diagnosed suicidal over it in the past:

[blockquote style=”style-1″] “And I’ve tried everything. Now I’m told none of the surgeries or even the latest and greatest Gamma Knife is likely to work. And since I’ve had this since childhood, I can understand why it wouldn’t. Too little, too late. But I can’t understand why I can get prescriptions for opiates on top of opiates and then more and more sedatives and anti-depressants. It’s enough to drive one crazy.[/blockquote]

And the bottom line: marijuana works better than opiates and using it I would not need as many opiates. At the worst in my case, wouldn’t marijuana be the lesser of two evils? I truly worry about all the opiates, and I don’t want to be an addict (21).”

Multiple Sclerosis patients develop TN at a higher rate that the rest of the population due to MS related demyelination of the trigeminal nerve. MS is also one of the more widely accepted uses of cannabis therapy. Therefore more TN patients with MS than without report on the efficacy of cannabis preparations to treat TN. “Wolfalohalani” of Portland, OR, is one such MS/TN patient. He says:

[blockquote style=”style-1″]“If I can catch an attack when it’s first starting out, I can hold some glycerine tincture at the hinge of my jaw on the effected side and it will numb the area and back the pain off. If I really don’t want to feel any alteration of consciousness, I can wait five or ten minutes, and then spit the remaining extract out. What has already absorbed will last half an hour or so – enough time for the attack to be over (22).”[/blockquote]

Interestingly, Wolfalohalani’s statement that if “I really don’t want to feel any alteration of consciousness, I can wait five or ten minutes, and then spit the remaining extract out” fits very well with the observation by Fox, et al., 2001, that non-systemically active doses applied locally in the periphery were able to alleviate neuralgia-induced hyperalgesia. This suggest that transdermal patches of cannabinoids or endocannabinoid modulators applied to the effected side of the face may prove useful at alleviating TN associated pain for some. Lozenges may also be a highly viable option.

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