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The Connection Between Cannabis And Multiple Sclerosis

The Connection Between Cannabis And Multiple Sclerosis

Canada, February 7, 2020 (420 INTEL)- One recent survey reported that upwards of 66% of those who suffer from MS may use cannabis in their efforts to control the disease.   

Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS) — brain and spinal cord — by damaging the fatty myelin sheaths that surround our nerve cells. Those with multiple sclerosis may experience a wide array of symptoms, including a worsening lack of coordination, trouble walking or getting around, muscle spasms and pain, dizziness, and changes in mood or sleep. 

One of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis is optic neuritis, which is damage to the optic nerve, or the nerve that connects the eye to the brain. Optic neuritis results in blurry vision, eye pain, and difficulty seeing normally. Usually, those with multiple sclerosis will only experience optic neuritis in one eye, but in rare cases it can affect both eyes.  

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, please seek medical treatment immediately.   

Can Cannabis Help Treat Multiple Sclerosis?  

It is estimated that a significant number of those with MS already use cannabis to help manage their condition. In fact, 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.   

It is unsurprising that THC has been shown to reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis in a number of studies.  A 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.   

Another 2012 study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal delivered similar findings: researchers found that compared to placebo, THC was effective in reducing muscle spasticity and other common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. There is also substantial research supporting THC’s ability to reduce symptoms in those with chronic pain.   

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?  

Although cannabidiol, also known as CBD, seems to have become a household name as of late, it is not recommended that those who have multiple sclerosis use CBD as a way of managing their condition. There are no data on use of CBD to slow MS. For pain control,  CBD has only been found to reduce pain in mice at doses upwards of 10-20mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight.  In a human, this would be 600-1200mg of CBD per day.  This has not been shown to be effective in human, however.  Moreover, at those high doses, CBD has been shown to interact with many conventional medications, often the sort the MS patients could be taking.  Of course, this could be dangerous.  

Medical Cannabis Should Be Used Alongside Traditional Medicine For MS 

There is currently no cure for MS. However, a variety of medications exist that are effective in treating multiple sclerosis. Many of these drugs work to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis by suppressing the body’s immune system. Although medical cannabis rich in THC can greatly improve the quality of life of a patient with multiple sclerosis, there is no evidence that THC alone can effectively treat MS, and it is therefore important that those with MS continue taking their prescription medication as directed. Many have reported success in using medical marijuana therapeutically, but under no circumstances should a patient stop taking their MS medication in favor of a cannabis-based treatment plan without first consulting their doctor.   

Those with MS should work closely with their physician to ensure they are able to best manage their condition. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and are  interested in learning how to best use cannabis alongside your traditional management plan for MS, consider speaking with a physician who has experience helping patients use medical marijuana. A doctor who specializes in cannabis-based medicine can best assist you in determining whether or not medical marijuana may be suitable for you. 


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