Medicinal Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, there are estimates that over 200 people will find out that they have Multiple Sclerosis (or MS) each week. There are few medical conditions that last as long or have such a debilitating effect on a patient’s bodily functions.

Currently, over 400,000 people in the U.S., plus more than 2.5 million worldwide, are living with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis
…Is a progressive, long-lasting disease that can affect basic body functions. The effects, however, often differ between individuals, and can range from mild symptoms that won’t need treatment to more severe symptoms that require assistance for managing daily routines and duties.

MS can have an impact on significant organs such as the brain, spinal cord, and vision, as well as the body’s immune system. It manifests itself through the immune system, attacking myelin, which are sleeves of fatty tissue that protect nerve cells. They carry messages between your body and your brain. When they are compromised due to the advancement of MS, they aren’t able to transmit and receive messages the way they should.

It’s because of this that MS weakens muscular structure, negatively impacts physical coordination, and most debilitatingly, cause paralysis. It’s not yet clear what causes Multiple Sclerosis, and at this point in time, there is no cure.

A few ways Medicinal Cannabis can help MS Patients

There has been evidence showing that medications based on THC and CBD have proven useful in treating the muscular spasticity that’s associated with MS, but these medications are synthetic by-products. Studies using whole-plant medicinal cannabis to treat other symptoms connected to MS are minimal at this point.

Regardless, medical cannabis has shown to be effective with these MS symptoms:

 

  1. Pain and sleep interruptions: a 2005 trial, labeled “gold standard” studied the use of a whole-plant cannabis-based extract to treat pain and sleep disturbance and found that it was two times more effective than the placebo control. The extract was an oromucosal spray that contained a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD.
  2. Tissue inflammation: the inherent anti-inflammatory effects and symptoms that cannabis is known to provide help for can help MS patients by combating the neural tissue inflammation that’s caused by the body’s immune cells’ onslaught on the central nervous system.
  3. Muscle spasm relief: cannabis-based medications were shown to offer substantial proof of effective treatment of symptoms from a high-ranking 2014 systematic review.
  4. Abdominal grievances: cannabinoids have been shown to help ease gastrointestinal problems and issues related to bowel dysfunction, including incontinence and constipation. 51-60% of participants in a survey by Scottish researcher Roger Pertwee noted a decline in the urge to have a bowel movement, whereas 44% reported a diminished level of incontinence, and 30% reported a decrease in symptoms related to constipation.
  5. Disposition concerns: a most-likely symptom of MS patients as they cope with their illness is depression. Most will go through bouts of depression or experience consistent issues with their mood and feelings of well-being. By using botanical cannabis, MS patients reported that their mood was lifted.

 

Methods of consumption

Taking medical cannabis for any approved medical condition offers benefits over regular prescription medications, and one important way in which it differs is in the manner of consumption. It’s usually an often overlooked component of medical cannabis consumption that results in patients limiting their usage methods to just one or two methods.

To gain the most mental and physical benefits of medicinal cannabis for any medical condition including MS depends highly on the method of consumption. There are basically three primary methods to consume cannabis: inhaling, orally, and topically. And there’s also consumption via edibles.

For instance, you might wish to partake of an omelet that’s been cooked with high-CBD infused butter. Or for a boost of energy mid-day, vaporize some strains that help reduce fatigue and help increase energy. At night, you might try to wind down the day with an indica-infused brownie to help you fall asleep.

 

Looking Ahead

With medical cannabis legal in over 20 states, doctors are still reluctant to prescribe it for their patients, mainly because there have not been more studies conducted by the FDA to approve treatment of medical conditions with medicinal cannabis. They might be supportive of their patients trying medical cannabis to treat or improve their medical conditions, but they cannot prescribe it themselves.

Even so, the landscape for the use of medical cannabis as a viable treatment for diseases like Multiple Sclerosis seems to be headed in a positive direction, whether it’s a referral to a doctor who’s more comfortable with the use of medical cannabis, or to a location to get their medical marijuana card. Under the right supervision, the treatment of medical conditions with medicinal cannabis will soon be as routine as treatments under prescribed pharmaceuticals.

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