The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest in the human body. It extends from the lumbar area of the back right down to the feet. Injury or compression of this nerve causes pain that’s known as sciatica; there could also be loss of bladder control.

The red bits are where you can get pain from sciatica. Photo: injurymap

The red bits are where you can get pain from sciatica. Photo: injurymap

What causes it

The causes of this medical condition can include bone spurs, a slipped disc pressing against the nerve, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), surgery and various spinal injuries. The second of these is the most common and rarely heals unless there is extensive therapy or medical intervention. Resultant sensations can range from mild tingling to something completely incapacitating. Sciatica affects as many as 40 percent of folk. Cannabis works wonders for all kinds of pain, and this is one more.


The chemical compounds unique to cannabis go by the name of phytocannabinoids – cannabinoids for short. The bodies of all mammals generate chemical compounds very similar to the cannabinoids of cannabis, and we call these endocannabinoids. Many cells throughout the body feature receptors activated by cannabinoids, be they produced naturally or they appear after taking cannabis.

This network of receptors is the endocannabinoid system. It keeps all other physiological systems in balance when the body suffers from some adverse medical condition. This is why cannabis halts seizures in epileptic people,
kills cancer cells, reduces muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis sufferers
and slows neural degeneration in Alzheimer’s patients, to name but a few of the medical conditions that respond well to cannabis.

Ooh! Look at this study!

In 2013, there was an extensive study that examined use of cannabis to relieve pain. The team behind the study concluded that cannabinoids “have efficacy in the treatment of various chronic pain conditions.”

And look at this one, too

There has only been one official study of the effects of cannabis on sciatica-related pain. It took place in Israel in 2018 and looked at 15 men with an average age of 33 who suffered pain as a result of various medical conditions. In the first session, nine of the men took tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most common ingredient of cannabis and the one that makes you high. Six took a placebo. They didn’t know which was which. A week later, the process took place one more, but with roles reversed.

After both sessions, the subjects were asked about their pain levels one hour after the dose and given an MRI scan. THC reduced pain a great deal more than the placebo: before they took anything, the men rated their pain-level as 53 on average, while those who took the placebo rated it as 43, and those who took THC put it at 35.

There has been no official study of the effects of cannabidiol (CBD, the second most common ingredient of cannabis, which isn’t psychoactive) on sciatica. There is, however, no shortage of anecdotes. One appeared in the Independent. 55-year-old Brenda Davidson of Orkney had suffered crippling back pain from sciatica for 13 years. It often reduced her to tears, and she couldn’t perform such everyday tasks as walking her dog. She bought some CBD oil for £54, and it relieved this medical condition almost instantly. Lacking THC, it’s legal in the United Kingdom.

Whether cannabis cures sciatica depends upon what is causing it. If sciatica is prompted by pinching or compression of the sciatic nerve, cannabis will lessen tissue inflammation. If the patient has a slipped disc, however, cannabis won’t help unless there is also physical therapy.

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