How Medical Marijuana Can Help Patients With Trigeminal Neuralgia

By   |  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya  |  May 26, 2022  |  ConditionsHealth & Relief

Trigeminal neuralgia, neuropathic facial pain, or tic douloureux (pronounced tic delarue) is a form of chronic pain that affects the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for providing sensation to the face. The condition manifests as a sharp pain that comes and goes in quick bursts. Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is often mistaken for a dental problem or a migraine. Although trigeminal neuralgia can be difficult to treat, medical marijuana has shown promise in reducing the intensity and frequency of TN attacks.

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Diagnosis and testing of trigeminal neuralgia

The most common symptom of trigeminal neuralgia is severe, intermittent pain in the cheek, jaw, or forehead. Often, activities like brushing your teeth or eating set off the pain. Other symptoms can include muscle spasms in the face and a burning sensation. If you think you have trigeminal neuralgia, it’s essential to see a specialist so they can properly diagnose and treat the condition. 

An MRI is usually the best way to test for trigeminal neuralgia. This imaging test can show whether or not there is damage to the trigeminal nerve. Your doctor may also order a CT scan or an electromyogram (EMG) to rule out other conditions. Once trigeminal neuralgia has been diagnosed, treatment options include medication, surgery, and radiation therapy. With proper treatment, most people can find relief from their symptoms and live relatively regular lives.

Trigeminal neuralgia treatment & medication

Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia typically involves medications to relieve pain and prevent attacks. These can include anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and topical anesthetics. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to decompress the nerve. However, this carries the risk of complications such as facial paralysis. For most people with trigeminal neuralgia, combining medication and lifestyle changes can help manage the condition and improve their quality of life.

Common surgical procedures for trigeminal neuralgia include:

  • Gamma knife radiosurgery
  • Microvascular decompression (MVD)
  • A rhizotomy

Medications for trigeminal neuralgia include:

  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Botox, glycerol, and trigeminal nerve block injections.

Medical Marijuana For Trigeminal Neuralgia

Medical marijuana is a natural remedy that may help relieve trigeminal neuralgia pain. And it contains compounds called cannabinoids, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

This system is involved in regulating pain, and studies suggest that cannabinoids may help reduce trigeminal neuralgia pain by reducing inflammation and interacting with nerve cells. While more research is needed to confirm these results, medical marijuana may offer a promising treatment option for trigeminal neuralgia patients.

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States where you can get medical marijuana for trigeminal neuralgia

A medical marijuana card is essential before proceeding with cannabis treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. Begin by choosing your state to speak to one of our expert MMJ doctors near you, and get your med card in a few easy steps.

THC for nerve pain

THC is the active ingredient in cannabis that gives users the “high” sensation, but it also has a wide range of potential medical applications. THC is well known for its pain-relieving effects, hence its use in the therapy of conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Another area where THC may be helpful, particularly for trigeminal neuralgia, is in the treatment of nerve pain. A 2007 study by Turo J Nurmikko et al. revealed that a combination of THC and CBD reduced neuropathic pain in a majority of the test subjects. Although these results suggest that THC may be a promising treatment for nerve pain, further research is needed to confirm these findings.

CBD oil for trigeminal neuralgia

CBD oil is a natural remedy effective in treating a variety of medical conditions, including trigeminal neuralgia. Cannabidiol (CBD), found in CBD oil, works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system to ease pain and inflammation. Studies indicate that CBD oil can help reduce the intensity of nerve pain. Additionally, CBD oil may be beneficial in treating other forms of neuropathy, such as post-herpetic neuralgia. While more research is vital to confirm these findings, CBD oil may offer a safe and natural treatment option for patients with trigeminal neuralgia.

Strains for nerve damage

When there is talk about medical marijuana, there are mainly two strains: Indica and Sativa.

Indica strains provide calm, relaxation, and sedative effects. Because of their sedative effects, these strains should be used at night. Indica strains help in managing chronic pain and improve sleep quality.

Sativa strains focus on how the brain works and functions. And they produce an energizing effect. Sativa strains can help improve creativity and concentration, making them ideal for daytime use. In addition, Sativa strains can more directly impact the brain’s neural network to help reduce symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia.

There are countless options to choose from, so it is essential to consult an experienced medical marijuana doctor to determine an effective therapy to help alleviate your symptoms.

The medical marijuana dose for trigeminal neuralgia

There is no standard dose for medical marijuana when treating trigeminal neuralgia, as everybody is different. But beginning with a low dosage is a good starting point.

Patients can consume medicinal cannabis using different methods, for instance, inhalation, oral, sublingual (under the tongue), and topical application. Products for inhalation usually involve dry flowers, vaping oils, and physical oil concentrates.

Oral dose forms consist mainly of gels, tinctures, and oral solutions. For topical application, lotions and CBD pain creams provide systemic absorption, and patients can use them throughout the day without psychoactive effects.

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The effects of vaporization are almost immediate and may last up to three hours. In contrast, the effects of the oral ingestion method or edibles may last six to eight hours, but there is less control over the peak. Sublingual application methods may last approximately four hours, with a peak effect at one hour.

Nevertheless, consulting a professional cannabis doctor is necessary to educate yourself about medical marijuana dosing and preparation.

Potential Side Effects of Marijuana

While there is some evidence that medical marijuana can help ease the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, there are potential side effects to consider.

The most common side effects of marijuana include

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Impaired memory and coordination.
  • Anxiety or paranoia.

It’s necessary to speak with an MMJ doctor before trying medical marijuana, as it may not be appropriate for everyone. Additionally, awareness of the potential side effects will help you make an informed decision about whether or not to use medical marijuana to treat your trigeminal neuralgia.

Other natural remedies for trigeminal neuralgia pain

Besides medications and surgical procedures, there are also natural remedies that can help relieve trigeminal neuralgia pain and reduce the frequency of episodes. Some natural treatments for trigeminal neuralgia pain include herbs such as ginger, passionflower, and chamomile. These herbs can be taken in pill form or brewed into tea. Other natural remedies include exercises to relieve trigeminal neuralgia, acupuncture, massage therapy, and dietary changes.

Acupuncture can help release endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body. Massage therapy can help to relax the muscles and ease tension headaches. Dietary changes such as avoiding trigger foods and eating more anti-inflammatory foods can also help to reduce pain and inflammation. While these natural remedies will not cure the underlying condition, they can provide significant relief from chronic pain.

Bananas and trigeminal neuralgia

The relationship between bananas and trigeminal neuralgia is contradictory. Firstly, bananas are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, vitamins C, B12, plus B6, and dietary fiber. Some research suggests that potassium and magnesium, in particular, may alleviate neuropathic pain. Additionally, vitamins B6 and B12 may help reduce inflammation which may be beneficial in relieving TN pain.

However, bananas also contain tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin. And serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can increase pain signals in the trigeminal nerve. For this reason, specialists advise patients with trigeminal neuralgia to avoid bananas–since they can trigger trigeminal neuralgia attacks.

Trigeminal neuralgia – the suicide disease

Trigeminal neuralgia is infamously known as the suicide disease owing to the high rate of suicide among sufferers. Many people with this condition find themselves in a great deal of pain and suffering.

Trigeminal neuralgia is considered the worst pain in the world. The pain can be incredibly intense, and even just a gentle breeze or a light touch can trigger it. Patients often describe the pain as feeling like an electric shock, and it can last for just a few seconds or several minutes. Often, trigeminal neuralgia ranks highest on any pain scale. In fact, some experts believe that trigeminal neuralgia may be more painful than childbirth or a root canal.

What is the trigeminal neuralgia suicidality rate?

Trigeminal neuralgia can be extremely debilitating, and the pain can be so severe that patients may consider suicide. The trigeminal neuralgia suicidality rate is unknown, but it is thought to be high.

Joining a trigeminal neuralgia support group can be helpful for patients who feel isolated and alone. In a support group, patients can share their experiences and learn from others dealing with the same condition. The support group can also provide a sense of community and offer practical advice on coping with the pain. If you are suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, consider joining a support group to help you cope with the condition.

Relationship between trigeminal neuralgia and covid-19

While the relationship between trigeminal neuralgia and covid-19 is not yet fully understood, some evidence suggests that the two conditions may be linked. A recent study by Emanuele Caggia et al. observed increased cases of trigeminal neuralgia in patients with covid-19. Much as more research is needed to confirm a causal link between trigeminal neuralgia and covid-19, the data suggests that there may be a connection between the two conditions.

Occipital neuralgia vs trigeminal neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia are two types of neuralgia or nerve pain. The main difference between these two conditions is the location of the pain. Occipital neuralgia is characterized by pain in the back of the head and neck. On the other hand, trigeminal neuralgia manifests as pain in the face. Both conditions can be extremely painful and debilitating. Also, treatment for these two conditions is different. Occipital neuralgia is usually treated with medication, while trigeminal neuralgia treatment may involve surgery.

Trigeminal neuralgia vs TMJ

While trigeminal neuralgia and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder share similarities, they are two distinct conditions. Both conditions involve pain in the face, jaw, and head. Additionally, they can make everyday activities like eating and talking very difficult. 

However, trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused by damage to the trigeminal nerve, while TMJ is often the result of chronic stress or injury to the temporomandibular joint. Moreover, therapy for trigeminal neuralgia often includes medication or surgery, while TMJ is typically treated with physical therapy, relaxation techniques, and pain relievers.

What is the link between trigeminal neuralgia and MS?

Estimates suggest that around 15% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) also experience trigeminal neuralgia. While the exact link between trigeminal neuralgia and MS is unknown, one hypothesis is that they both involve damage to myelin sheaths, indicating that the two conditions share a common underlying mechanism. Still, research is ongoing to better understand this connection.

The connection between shingles and trigeminal neuralgia

Shingles, caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, leads to a painful and itchy rash. The shingles virus, varicella-zoster, lies dormant in your nerves after you recover from chickenpox and can reawaken years later, causing shingles. It is unclear why shingles and trigeminal neuralgia are connected. One assumption is that the shingles virus may cause inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, leading to trigeminal neuralgia. There is no cure for either condition, but there are treatments that can help to ease the pain. If you have shingles, see a doctor as soon as possible to start treatment and avoid developing trigeminal neuralgia.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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