CBD can ease neuropathic pain through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Does it mean you can successfully treat trigeminal neuralgia with CBD oil? Let’s shed more light on the mechanism of action. Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is caused by damage or dysfunction in the trigeminal nerve, resulting in severe pain on the face.
CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia: Is Cannabis a Viable Approach?
Neuropathic pain has many faces, one of which includes trigeminal neuralgia. This condition affects the nerves that transmit sensation from the face to the brain, causing severe discomfort comparable to an electric shock. The TN pain can be triggered by the slightest movement or touch anywhere on the face, commonly affecting the lips, gums, jaw, and cheeks.
People with trigeminal neuralgia usually suffer from flare-ups affecting one side of the face at a time. Although short-lived at the beginning, the episodes of burning sensation may become chronic, lasting for weeks or longer.
CBD has been mentioned by researchers as a potentially viable remedy for pain that is difficult to treat. Trigeminal neuralgia fits within this definition like a glove.
Today we’ll elaborate on the problem of TN pain and how to treat it with natural resources.
CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia: Highlights
- Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) develops as a result of the damage caused to the trigeminal nerve, causing severe pain on the face.
- CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may provide relief from neuropathic pain by mitigating the pain signals. According to a study published in Pharmacological Reviews, CBD strengthens nerve impulses in the ECS receptors, producing analgesic effects (1).
- A review of studies concluded that topical CBD might be useful in reducing neuropathic pain and sensitivity to pain signals (hyperalgesia) (2).
- Researchers have reported that hypertension (high blood pressure) increases the risk of trigeminal neuralgia. In a 2017 study, subjects who received CBD showed reduced resting blood pressure (3).
- More clinical studies on humans are needed to support the preclinical findings of CBD’s benefits for people with trigeminal neuralgia.
Why People Are Turning to CBD for Trigeminal Neuralgia?
The dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve can have debilitating consequences for the sufferers. It causes severe pain on the face that occurs upon even the slightest movement, such as touching, scratching, or rubbing. The condition may also cause muscle spasms and burning sensations on top of the shock-like pain.
The treatment of trigeminal neuralgia usually involves anticonvulsant medications, antispasmodic agents, surgery, and other procedures involving the trigeminal nerve. Antiepileptic drugs, such as carbamazepine and gabapentin have been used with some success, although they lack efficacy and intolerability with prolonged use.
This is where CBD starts to shine.
Studies on CBD and Trigeminal Neuralgia
CBD is an acknowledged antiepileptic treatment. Its anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties have been recently posted in a study from the journal Molecules. These actions might be useful in reducing muscle spasms in TN patients (4).
Although studies haven’t analyzed the efficacy of CBD on spasms caused by TN, there is evidence that CBD may have significant benefits for treating chronic pain caused by the condition.
One review has pointed to CBD as the potential reliever of hyperalgesia (pain sensitivity). The review mentioned that CBD can effectively block the pain pathway’s neural transmission. The authors also highlighted the nociceptive effects of cannabinoids, describing them as the potential therapeutic approach to the management of TN pain.
The painkilling and anti-hyperalgesia effects of CBD were supported by an animal study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The study suggested that CBD reduced pain and inflammation caused by neuropathy.
Neuropathy stems from dysfunction or damage in the nerves that may trigger pain, tingling sensation, muscle weakness, and numbness.
On top of the above findings, the authors of the study added that CBD was able to curb hyperalgesia in mice models. There was a conclusion that CBD reduced persistent inflammation and neuropathic pain.
Another paper from the European Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated remarkable anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of CBD. Cannabidiol was administered to rats with induced sciatic nerve pain. The research team found that CBD treatment lowered inflammation and reduced hyperalgesia (5).
Experts hypothesize that trigeminal nerve pain can be caused by the contraction of blood vessels in the trigeminal nerve. This contraction damages the trigeminal protective tissue. Furthermore, researchers noticed that high blood pressure contributes to the development of trigeminal neuralgia (6).
A 2017 preclinical study found that CBD has benefits for the cardiovascular system. The authors reported that healthy individuals (age 21–29) with hypertension caused by a stressful event showed lower blood pressure after taking CBD (7).
Since the majority of the studies on CBD and trigeminal neuralgia have been conducted on animal models and preclinical human samples, longitudinal clinical studies are needed to further prove CBD’s ability to treat the condition.
How Does CBD Oil Work for Trigeminal Neuralgia?
The benefits of CBD for trigeminal neuralgia are attributed to the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is the major regulatory network engaged in maintaining homeostasis in the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, immune system, and organs. The ECS contains receptors that are found throughout the body, including CB1, CB2, and glycine receptors.
Studies have found that the modulation of the ECS might promote the healthy functioning of biological processes, providing a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that modulating the ECS translates into therapeutic effects for pain management. The authors also mentioned that glycine receptors in the central nervous system are important targets for reducing neuropathic pain. According to the study, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD might enhance the activity of the glycine receptors, resulting in analgesic effects.
Glycine receptors are ion channels that control the transmission of pain signals from the nerve to the brain.
The study found that oral CBD products resulted in a binding glycine activity that lowered neuropathic pain and hyperalgesia in animal models.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Numerous studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of CBD in pain management thanks to its ability to modulate receptors in the ECS.
- Researchers agree that CBD might strengthen nerve impulses and increase pain resistance.
- Animal studies have found that oral CBD solutions might be useful in lowering one’s sensitivity to pain.
- CBD can reduce blood pressure in healthy volunteers, indirectly reducing the risk of trigeminal neuralgia
- Many international medical organizations agree that CBD is well-tolerated in humans and has a high safety profile.
- There is not enough clinical evidence to support CBD’s efficacy in treating trigeminal neuralgia
- CBD has a few mild side effects, including dry mouth, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and CBD-induced drug interactions
- According to one animal study, extremely high doses of CBD can cause liver toxicity. However, these results haven’t been confirmed on human subjects.
CBD vs. Alternative Treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are limited options when it comes to alternative treatments for trigeminal neuralgia. The alternative anticonvulsants, except for CBD, aren’t supported by scientific studies. Recently, acupuncture has been touted for its effectiveness in treating neuropathic pain. There are lots of reports from TN patients who claim to have successfully treated TN with acupuncture.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine that uses tiny needles to balance the energy flow within the body. Studies also mention acupuncture’s ability to support homeostasis in the ECS. However, direct studies are needed to find out how acupuncture affects cannabinoid receptors.
One study from Frontiers of Molecular Neuroscience has found that electroacupuncture increased receptor activity in the rat models of osteoarthritis, resulting in reduced pain. Electroacupuncture is performed by sending electric signals through the microneedles (8).
Weird as it may sound, CBD has similar effects on the body to electroacupuncture. One study has found that the modulation of adenosine receptors resulted in mitigated pain and lower inflammation in mice after they took CBD (9).
Vitamin B12 is another alternative for trigeminal neuralgia. Research shows that vitamin B12 has painkilling properties that may aid patients in managing neuropathic pain.
Several clinical studies have reported positive results after treating patients with methylcobalamin, a form of B12. These studies examined patients with different types of neuropathy, such as trigeminal neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy (10).
How to Take CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia?
CBD comes in different forms, concentrations, and formulas. It may be taken orally in the forms of capsules or gummies, or sublingually as oil drops. Some people vape CBD, while others use it topically for localized relief. The choice of the product boils down to your individual situation.
CBD oil is the most common format. It contains a hemp extract infused into an inert oil, such as MCT oil or olive oil. CBD oil comes with a dropper for easier and more accurate dosing. You just squeeze the preferred amount using the dropper, place a few drops under your tongue, and wait for up to 60 minutes until it absorbs through tiny capillaries in your mouth. The calming effects of CBD should be felt within 15–20 minutes.
If you don’t like the taste of CBD oil, capsules and edibles are a good alternative. CBD capsules are available in the form of soft gels, providing a fixed dose of CBD per serving. They are better suited for busy people who take their CBD on the go. Since the CBD needs to pass through the digestive system before absorbing into the bloodstream, capsules have a delayed onset, usually around 40–90 minutes depending on your metabolism and whether or not you’re taking CBD oil on an empty stomach.
Edibles work in a similar fashion, but they are made with fun flavors that make the whole experience more enjoyable. The most popular forms of CBD edibles are gummies and honey sticks.
If you’re looking for the most effective way to deliver CBD to your system, CBD vape pens will be your best bet. Vaporized CBD gets into the bloodstream through the lung tissue, producing its effects within minutes after inhalation. CBD vapes also offer the highest bioavailability of all consumption methods, ensuring that up to 56% of the ingested substance is absorbed.
Finally, you may try a topical formulation, such as CBD creams for localized relief. Topicals work best for flare-ups because they address inflammation by interacting with the CB2 receptors in the skin’s endocannabinoid system. The absorption rate and duration of CBD topicals vary between products; you may need to reapply the dose after a few hours for consistent results.
Dosage of CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are not enough clinical trials to determine the effective CBD dosage for specific health conditions.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, a low dose may vary from less than 1 to 50 milligrams per one kilogram per day. Everybody is different, and factors like your age, gender, metabolism, weight, overall health, and prior experience with CBD will affect your optimal dosage range.
It will take some experimentation until you find out what works for you. It is recommended to start with a low dose, say, 10 mg of CBD once or twice daily for one week — and observe the results. If you don’t feel any pain relief after that time, add another 10 mg to the dosage and continue for another week. Once you’ve found an effective dose, you can stick to it — people don’t build a tolerance to CBD.
If you’re thinking about adding CBD oil to your trigeminal neuralgia treatment, consult a holistic doctor experienced in CBD and cannabis therapies in general. Doing so will help you determine the right dosage range for your condition on top of avoiding potential negative CBD-induced drug interactions.
Summarizing the use of CBD for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Studies support CBD’s therapeutic effects in a range of painful conditions, including neuropathic pain. CBD modulates the activity of the cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, mitigating pain signals and reducing inflammation throughout the body. Moreover, CBD has been found to reduce blood pressure when administered under stressful conditions. All these effects can have a positive impact on the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. CBD is also an acknowledged anticonvulsant and neuroprotectant, so it can prevent further damage to the trigeminal nerve.
More direct clinical trials are needed to prove CBD’s efficacy specifically in alleviating TN pain. However, current findings, as well as reports from patients, are very encouraging.
Do you take CBD for trigeminal nerve pain? What products work best for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
- Pacher, Pál et al. “The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy.” Pharmacological reviews vol. 58,3 (2006): 389-462. doi:10.1124/pr.58.3.2
- Liang, Ying-Ching et al. “Therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in trigeminal neuralgia.” Current drug targets. CNS and neurological disorders vol. 3,6 (2004): 507-14. doi:10.2174/1568007043336833
- Turner, C L et al. “Measurement of pulse pressure profiles in patients with trigeminal neuralgia.” Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry vol. 74,4 (2003): 533-5. doi:10.1136/jnnp.74.4.533
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of Cannabidiol.
- Costa, Barbara et al. “The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.” European journal of pharmacology vol. 556,1-3 (2007): 75-83. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2006.11.006
- Trigeminal Neuralgia Overview.
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- Yuan, Xiao-Cui et al. “Electroacupuncture Potentiates Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Descending Inhibitory Control in a Mouse Model of Knee Osteoarthritis.” Frontiers in molecular neuroscience vol. 11 112. 6 Apr. 2018, doi:10.3389/fnmol.2018.00112
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Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia – August 2022
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a form of neuropathic pain condition caused by dysfunction in the trigeminal nerve, or fifth cranial nerve . The nerve is responsible for carrying sensation signals from the face to the brain.
TN pain has been reported to be so severe that it has been called the “ suicide disease ” (5) .
Slight stimulations on the face, such as touching, brushing, and washing may cause severe facial pain . TN may also cause muscle spasms, feelings of electric shock , and burning sensation .
TN treatments include anticonvulsant agents, antispasmodic agents, and potentially invasive surgical procedures.
Antiepileptic medications, such as gabapentin and carbamazepine, have been used to treat TN (6) . However, the lack of intolerability and efficacy has been observed among these medications after prolonged use (7) .
CBD is a proven antiepileptic treatment (8) . A recent study posted in Molecules mentioned evidence of CBD ’s anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties. These actions might help reduce spasms and nerve pain (9) .
Studies have not investigated CBD ’s efficacy on spasms caused by TN. However, CBD might have therapeutic benefits for treating chronic pain caused by TN (10) .
A review shared that cannabinoids , such as CBD , might help alleviate neuropathic pain and hyperalgesia (pain sensitivity). The review mentioned that there is evidence that cannabinoids might block the pain pathway ’s neural transmission (11) .
The authors added that the nociceptive effects produced by cannabinoids might be a potential therapeutic approach to the management of trigeminal neuralgia (12) .
The analgesic and anti-hyperalgesic effects of CBD were supported by an animal study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (13) .
The study mentioned that CBD possesses therapeutic benefits that might reduce pain and inflammation that causes neuropathy (14) .
Neuropathy is dysfunction or damage in the nerves that may cause pain, tingling and burning sensations , numbness, or muscle weakness.
Moreover, the authors added that CBD was able to mitigate hyperalgesia in mice models. The study concluded that CBD reduced persistent inflammation and neuropathic pain (15) .
Another study shared in the European Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated that CBD may possess potent anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects (16) .
In the study, oral CBD was administered on rat models with induced sciatic nerve compression. Researchers found that CBD treatment reduced hyperalgesia and reduced inflammation (17) .
According to experts, trigeminal nerve pain can be caused by a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve . This compression causes damage to the trigeminal’s protective coating (myelin sheath) (18) . In severe cases, this vessel may need to be surgically separated from the trigeminal nerve.
Moreover, researchers observed that high blood pressure increases the risk for TN (19) .
A preclinical study acknowledged that CBD has cardiovascular benefits (20) . The authors mentioned that healthy volunteers (age 21-29) whose hypertension is triggered by stress displayed a lower resting blood pressure after taking CBD .
Clinical studies without limitations are needed to confirm CBD ’s potential ability to reduce blood pressure in older individuals.
Most of the studies mentioned have shown results using animals as test subjects. More clinical studies are needed to prove CBD ’s efficacy in alleviating nerve pain .
How CBD Oil Works to Help With Trigeminal Neuralgia
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is essential in maintaining homeostasis in the central nervous system , peripheral nervous system , immune system, and organs.
The ECS is composed of receptors that are spread across the human body. These receptors include the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and glycine receptor (GLyR) (21) .
Studies acknowledged that modulating the receptors in the ECS might influence bodily functions, resulting in several therapeutic benefits (22) .
Modulatory effects can be triggered or stimulated by cannabinoids , such as cannabidiol ( CBD) , tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG) (23) .
A study posted by the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggested that modulating the ECS might have therapeutic effects in pain management (24) .
Moreover, the authors mentioned that glycine receptors in the central nervous system are an essential target for alleviating neuropathic pain (25) .
The authors added that cannabinoids , such as THC and CBD , might strengthen nerve impulses in the glycine receptors, resulting in analgesic potency (26) .
Glycine receptors are ion channels that are responsible for neurotransmission.
The study found that oral CBD treatment provided a binding glycine activity that reduced hyperalgesia and neuropathic pain in mice models.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Studies demonstrated that CBD might have therapeutic effects in pain management by modulating receptors in the ECS (27) .
- Researchers acknowledged that CBD might strengthen nerve impulses in the ECS receptors, resulting in analgesic potency (28) .
- Animal studies have shown that oral CBD treatment might be useful in alleviating neuropathic pain and hyperalgesia (pain sensitivity) (29) .
- Studies have shown that CBD might reduce blood pressure . High blood pressure might increase the risk for TN (30) .
- Researchers acknowledge that CBD is well-tolerated and has an excellent safety profile (31) .
- There are not enough clinical studies that support CBD ’s efficacy in treating trigeminal neuralgia .
- Studies mentioned that CBD might cause adverse effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and CBD -induced drug interactions (32) .
- An animal study has shown that CBD might cause hepatotoxicity (liver damage) when taken in extremely high doses. This hypothesis is supported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (33) .
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are not many alternative treatment options for painful conditions, like TN. The efficacy of alternative anticonvulsants for treating TN is currently not supported by scientific studies.
A popular alternative treatment for TN is acupuncture. A review mentioned that a 66-year woman suffering from TN believed that she was successfully treated by acupuncture (34) .
Acupuncture is a Chinese tradition that uses microneedles to balance the energy in the body.
Researchers mention that acupuncture may help maintain homeostasis in the ECS and must be investigated. So far, no direct studies have been made on how acupuncture might trigger the cannabinoid receptors (35) .
A study published in Frontiers of Molecular Neuroscience has found that electroacupuncture on osteoarthritis rats was able to increase receptor activity, resulting in reduced chronic pain (36) .
Electroacupuncture is conducted by sending electrical signals through acupuncture needles.
CBD has somewhat similar characteristics to electroacupuncture. A study discussed that CBD ’s modulation of adenosine receptors resulted in reduced pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis mice (37) .
Another alternative treatment for TN is vitamin B12. Studies have shown that vitamin B12 has analgesic properties that might be useful for treating neuropathic pain (38) .
A review from Neural Plasticity cited clinical studies that produced positive results from neuropathic patients following treatments of methylcobalamin (MeCbl), a form of B12. These clinical studies included patients with neuropathic health conditions, such as TN and diabetic neuropathy (39) .
Clinical studies have yet to test CBD ’s efficacy on TN and diabetic neuropathy. However, a study acknowledged that CBD might also possess therapeutic benefits for neuropathic conditions.
CBD ’s modulation of glycine receptors resulted in alleviating chronic pain and hyperalgesia in mice models (40) .
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Full-spectrum CBD oil carries all the major cannabinoids found in hemp plants, such as CBD , CBG, CBC, and 0.3% THC .
Full-spectrum CBD is recommended for treating neuropathic pain . A study posted in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management acknowledged the analgesic effects of other cannabinoids present in hemp (41) .
Broad-spectrum CBD contains the same cannabinoids in full-spectrum without THC . Broad-spectrum is recommended for individuals who do not want traces of THC in their system.
Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum types provide individuals with the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect means that all the cannabinoids are working in synergy.
Individuals who cannot tolerate other cannabinoids may opt for CBD isolate. This concentration contains 90% CBD .
Additional tips to consider before buying CBD :
- Customers may check for cannabinoid concentration in the product by referring to the certificate of analysis (COA).
- Checking testimonials and reviews from other customers is helpful.
- Consulting with a neurologist before taking CBD is important.
CBD Dosage for Trigeminal Neuralgia
More clinical trials are crucial in determining the correct CBD dose for health conditions.
The British Journal of Pharmacology published a study that recommended a low dose of less than 1 to 50 milligrams kilograms per day (
Individuals may increase their dose once their bodies get used to having CBD in their system.
Moreover, a clinical study published by the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry mentioned that a dose-response curve was observed with CBD (43) .
The authors explained that 300mg pure CBD treatment produced positive results, while 150mg and 600mg did not produce any changes.
Also, a high dosage of CBD is not recommended. A study released by Molecules observed that extremely high doses of CBD caused hepatotoxicity in rat models (44) .
How to Take CBD Oil for Trigeminal Neuralgia
CBD oil may be taken orally in forms of capsules, softgels, and gummies. Individuals may also take CBD capsules , gummies, and other edibles with a glass of water.
A study observed that CBD remained in the system three to four hours after oral intake (45) .
Individuals who want a higher potency of CBD may opt for sublingual administration. CBD tinctures may be taken by using an applicator to drop CBD under the tongue.
More studies are needed to determine absorption speed and plasma concentrations for sublingual delivery.
The half-life of sublingual CBD administration has been observed to be dose-dependent. Nevertheless, researchers observed that plasma concentrations are faster when individuals are in a fasted state (empty stomach) (46) .
CBD tinctures may have an earthy taste due to the presence of terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in the plants.
Some individuals may want the fastest method for pain relief . Thus, CBD vape pens and cartridges may be recommended.
Studies have shown that the lungs can be very efficient in delivering CBD into the bloodstream (47) . The authors explained that inhaling CBD through vaporization could deliver plasma concentrations to the body in less than 10 minutes.
However, another study reported that vaping might cause side effects , such as chest pain, shortness of breath, allergic reactions, and chemical irritation (48) .
Are CBD Oil and Medical Marijuana the Same?
Some individuals may mistake CBD for medical marijuana . However, these compounds differ in cultivation and concentration.
Medical marijuana or medical cannabis can come from several cannabis strains. The cannabis plant is harvested for its flowers and leaves, after which they are cured and dried for consumption.
CBD is usually extracted from Cannabis sativa, particularly hemp, using CO2 extraction, solvent extraction, or steam distillation.
The extraction method creates a more concentrated version of hemp. The cannabinoids are manufactured into carrier oils, capsules, edibles, vape juice, and other products.
CBD and medical marijuana also differ in terms of THC content.
CBD contains only 0.3% THC or less, making it legal in all 50 US states and territories (49) . Meanwhile, some dispensaries sell cannabis products that may contain up to 25-28% THC (50) .
Recreational and medical use of marijuana is illegal in the US, except for 11 states. These states may require consumers to procure a medical marijuana card (51) .
Although CBD products are legal, the CBD market remains highly unregulated.
Individuals are advised to always look for the certificate of analysis (COA) before buying the product. The COA is a third-party lab test result from ISO-certified laboratories.
These labs test for cannabinoid concentration and harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants.
The COA allows consumers to know that the product is high-quality and safe for humans or pets.
Studies have shown that CBD might be useful in alleviating neuropathic pain and hyperalgesia . This mechanism is due to CBD’s ability to block neural transmission in the pain receptors (52) .
Researchers also acknowledged that CBD might produce analgesic potency by strengthening nerve impulses in glycine receptors (53) .
Moreover, studies have shown that CBD might indirectly reduce TN pain by lowering blood pressure (54) .
More direct studies are needed to prove CBD ’s efficacy in alleviating neuropathic pain .
However, researchers mention that CBD ’s therapeutic potentials showed promise in improving the quality of life of individuals with TN (55) .