Can cannabis cream ease nerve pain?

Q. Have there been any studies on the use of cannabis cream to relieve the burning and tingling of neuropathy in one’s feet? I was given a jar of cream that contains cannabis (along with several other herbal ingredients), but I am somewhat hesitant to use it. I live in a state where marijuana is legal, so that is not the problem.

A. There is limited evidence to support topical cannabis for neuropathy (Deutsches Arzteblatt, Sept. 22, 2017). There are, however, several studies suggesting that inhaled marijuana may offer relief for some people with this painful condition (Journal of Pain, December 2015 and June 2016).

A recent overview of research points out that long-term risks of such “treatment” have not been well-studied (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, March 7, 2018).

Q. I am so grateful to have discovered a leg cramp cure on your website. I was very skeptical about putting soap under my sheets. But when I tried this trick, it helped!

The first time I used it, the soap worked for two or three months, and then it stopped. I decided to take a fork and score the surface. That did it! Now I do that as soon as my leg cramps come back.

A. We have heard from many readers that some brands of soap can prevent or stop leg and hand cramps. An anesthesiologist actually did some preliminary studies using soap and soap-scented oil on the skin (Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, Sept. 1, 2008). He found that the scent itself could relieve muscular pain, even though it is not a topical analgesic.

We speculate that the soap scent is working through olfactory receptors in the skin that activate specialized nerve channels. By doing so, it may dampen the inappropriate nerve activity causing muscle cramps.

The fragrance dissipates over time. By scoring your soap, you are exposing a new layer that can release scent.

Q. I am not a pill person. I do not like taking drugs or even supplements. My doctor has told me that I am prediabetic and I need to get my cholesterol under control. Do you have any recommendations how I might be able to do this through my diet?

A. You can make a lot of progress on both fronts by cutting back on sugar and simple carbs, and eating lots of non-starchy veggies. Adding cinnamon to your coffee grounds, drinking fenugreek tea and using a salad dressing with mustard and vinegar at most meals also will help.

Q. My teenage daughter swam competitively for several years. This led to constant problems with broken nails, until she took gelatin capsules. The gelatin really made a difference and pretty much cured the problem.

A. Gelatin has had a reputation for building stronger nails for decades. What little research has been carried out, however, was done long ago. The best study we could find was published in the AMA Archives of Dermatology (September 1957). The researchers reported that “43 of 50 patients with brittle nails who ingested gelatin daily for three months showed improvement in their nail structure.”

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