Multiple sclerosis can have devastating physical and neurological repercussions, and recent research reveals that many MS patients turn to cannabis for relief.
While research is constantly being conducted, much has already been written about cannabis’ potential benefits for treating conditions like insomnia, depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and even cancer due to its potential anti-tumor effects, blood pressure-regulating abilities, and immunological benefits from its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties. The amount of studies that have been conducted or are currently being conducted that show how effective CBD (and cannabinoids in general) are at treating various medical conditions is endless.
Cannabis has long been thought to benefit people with multiple sclerosis. Over the years, studies on this topic have been conducted, and the amount of medical data supporting the hypothesis is expanding.
The definition of multiple sclerosis
In the disease known as multiple sclerosis (MS), the myelin that covers the patient’s nerve cells is attacked by the patient’s own immune system. Demyelinating sickness is the term of the illness that causes this. Because it creates a protective layer around the nerve cells, myelin is crucial for the effective transmission of electrical impulses between nerve cells.
Therefore, damage to this myelin can result in a variety of transmission issues where impulses are slowed down, transmitted incorrectly, or not transmitted at all. Numerous symptoms, including tingling, burning, and chronic pain, numbness, balance and coordination disorders, difficulty with bladder control, vision abnormalities (frequently leading to blindness in one eye), weariness, and vision impairments are brought on by this destruction to the nerve cells.
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The specific cause and development of multiple sclerosis remain mostly unknown. Multiple sclerosis currently has no known cure, so those who have MS must find the most effective symptom management strategies. MS is far more frequently diagnosed in women and typically develops between the ages of 20 and 40. Relapsing remitting MS, which is when a person’s symptoms come and go over time, thus producing symptom relapses, is experienced by about 2.5 million individuals worldwide.
Multiple sclerosis is classified as an autoimmune illness because it causes the body to attack and harm itself. Although the exact source of these illnesses is unknown, they all have in common a compromised immune system that harms the body. Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Grave’s disease, and type 1 diabetes are a few other examples of autoimmune disorders.
Cannabis therapy for MS is not at all a novel concept. In fact, an investigation into this very topic was conducted in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled research in 2004. The researchers tested whether a cannabis-based medical extract (CBME) offered any advantages to multiple sclerosis patients over a placebo. There were 160 individuals who participated, and they were all severely affected by spasticity, tremors, discomfort, problems with bladder control, and spasms.
The findings were intriguing and included the patient’s level of weariness, their level of handicap, their mood, their cognitive capacities, and how they slept, in addition to measuring the frequency and intensity of symptoms using a Visual Analogue Scale. The primary symptom score decreased from an average of 74.36 to 48.89 after the usage of the cannabis extract.
It also decreased with the placebo, dropping from 74.31 to 54.79. While the symptoms were lessened in the placebo group as well, they were lessened more in the cannabis extract group.
Cannabis usage in patients with multiple sclerosis and spasticity: A cross-sectional analysis is a study that was released earlier this month. In this study, researchers examined cannabis use among multiple sclerosis patients with spasticity problems. Patients’ self-reporting was used in the study. When considering this particular group of people, a number of distinct essential pieces of information are intriguing. The research revealed the following:
36 percent routinely consume cannabis
54 percent of people have used cannabis overall.
58 percent of cannabis users report using the drug every day.
79 percent said cannabis was helpful for easing spasticity.
26 percent use cannabis that is prescribed
Eighty-five percent of participants claimed cannabis relieved their pain.
55% reported using topical cannabis applications, and 52% said they utilized edibles.
26 percent combine cannabis use with prescription drug use to treat spasticity
Seventy-nine percent of cannabis users utilize various methods to consume it.
These self-reporting studies are frequently fascinating since they reveal the interests that persons with problems will inevitably have. Even when given various medical options, people who are ill tend to choose the option that will help them feel better and remain with it.
It’s also intriguing to see their cannabis use and how they perceive how their symptoms are affected. Self-reporting can often reveal patterns of behavior, and in this case, it reveals a pattern of MS patients with spasticity issues choosing to use cannabis to treat their symptoms. Self-reporting isn’t always the best way to gather information and has its own drawbacks, but it can often reveal patterns of behavior.
Cannabis Use for Multiple Sclerosis Is Safe
The safety of cannabis is one of the issues that frequently arises while discussing its use with multiple sclerosis. Of course, this is a common concern when considering any type of treatment, but in this particular instance, since cannabis has a particular reputation due to cannabinoid THC, the concern does arise. There were “no significant deleterious effects on cognition or mood and intoxication was generally minor,” the investigators noted in the first trial I cited, which compared taking a CBME to a placebo.
This has also been looked into elsewhere. Researchers published a study in 2018 that examined the effectiveness and tolerance of cannabis for people with multiple sclerosis. The goal was to evaluate the medication’s effects on the patient as well as how effectively it maintained symptoms. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design was also used in this investigation. They were particularly interested in pain, stiffness, and bladder function as symptoms.
The findings were substantial, showing that all three symptoms may be relieved by cannabis. Although there were no serious side effects reported, cannabis appeared to have a higher risk when it comes to tolerance. Overall, the study’s researchers came to the conclusion that cannabis are both safe and effective.
Toward the Future
While definitive answers might not be available for some time, recent research has been encouraging and provides hope for patients with multiple sclerosis. Although there is still a lot of ambiguity around CBD and cannabis in general, people who use it to treat their MS spasticity and pain concerns appear to pick it whether or not their doctor prescribes it. That certainly says something.