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Can Cannabis Help Treat Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the central nervous system (CNS) including the brain and the spinal cord. This attack usually affects the fatty myelin sheaths that surround our nerve cells. Depending on the cells that are being attacked, it will be the different symptoms the patient can experience including a worsening lack of coordination, dizziness, trouble walking or getting around, muscle spasms, severe pain, and changes in mood or sleep. There is currently no cure and treatment is based on trying to slow the disease and help with the debilitating symptoms.   

Common Physical Symptoms of MS

  • balance problems
  • bladder dysfunction
  • bowel problems
  • mobility and walking issues
  • sexual dysfunction
  • spasticity (stiffness)
  • speech difficulties
  • swallowing disorders
  • tremor
  • anxiety and depression
  • cognitive changes
  • dizziness/vertigo
  • weakness and fatigue
  • numbness
  • pain
  • sleep issues
  • visual disorders

Can Cannabis Help Treat Multiple Sclerosis?  

A 2017 survey conducted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society reported that upwards of 66% of those who suffer from MS may use cannabis in their efforts to control the disease. This means that the majority of patients with MS are using cannabis already.  

May help with a muscle spasm

2014 report released by the American Academy of Neurology suggested that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, was highly effective in treating pain and muscle spasms in those with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions which is not really surprising.

Another study published in 2012 by the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed similar findings: researchers found that THC was more effective in reducing muscle spasticity and other common symptoms of multiple sclerosis when compared to placebo.

May help muscle control

In a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, researchers gave patients with MS either an oral preparation of Cannabis or a placebo for 12 weeks. Researchers found that people in the Cannabis group had almost twice as much relief from muscle stiffness.

A large 2011 study involved 572 people with MS who took either oral marijuana extract called nabiximols (Sativex) or a placebo. The authors concluded that cannabis extract was an effective treatment for spasticity in people with MS.

In 2014, a large systematic review publish in the American Academy of Neurology journal found strong evidence to support the use of marijuana-based treatments for MS-related muscle problems.

Can relieve pain

2012 trial looked at the effect of smoking marijuana and the symptoms of MS. The researchers found that smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in symptom and pain reduction in participants with treatment-resistant spasticity.

THC and other cannabis-based medicines are generally considered safe and non-addictive. Serious adverse effects of cannabis, with proper medical guidance, are rare. This means that cannabis may be a safe and effective way for patients with multiple sclerosis to reduce their muscle spasticity and keep their daily levels of pain at a minimum.   

Does CBD Help Treat Multiple Sclerosis?  

Despite CBD being a great anti-inflammatory and helping patients with anxiety and chronic pain, it does not seem to play a big role when it comes to the symptoms of MS. Study are showing that the effective dosages are too high and that there might drug interactions at this high doses with other medications that the patient might be taking. So take CBD, in conjunction with THC, specially if dealing with seizures or anxiety.

In Conclusion

Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating disease to which we have no cure. Cannabis, specially THC, has shown to help ameliorate a large number of symptoms this patients have without causing any negative side effects so anyone suffering from MS should give Cannabis a try.

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