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March 13, 2003


Question from Palm Beach, Florida, USA:

My wife suffers terribly from neuropathy in her hands and feet as a result of diabetes. While prescribed pain medicines provide some relief, there are concerns about long term use, and her doctors are becoming increasingly fearful of prescribing strong pain killers. Is there any clinical or narrative evidence to indicate that marijuana, either in herbal or medicinal form, is in any way beneficial for treating the pain associated with neuropathy? (Neither one of us are "pot" smokers and are not looking for justification to smoke marijuana.)


My response to the problem is as follows:

Neuropathic pain from diabetes responds to improvement in blood sugar control. If your wife’s glucose levels are not good, try to get some help to improve them.
There are several drugs that are not considered narcotics than can be given to decrease the pain from neuropathy. Such drugs include imipramine, Neurontin, Tegretol, and their combinations. With minor pain, the application of capsaicin (a topical cream) can help. Please check with her physician about the use of these medications.
I am not an advocate of medical marijuana use.