Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that attacks the central nervous system. It is still unknown exactly what causes the disease and to date, there is no cure for the ailment. Everyone experiences symptoms related to MS differently. Two people diagnosed with MS can experience vastly different symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include fatigue, trouble walking, body numbness, spasms, weakness, blurred vision, vertigo, changes in cognition, and depression. While no one has found a cure for MS, treatments exist to slow the onset of the disease, help manage symptoms, and promote positive mental health. The NMSS suggests taking a comprehensive approach to treating MS stating, “A complex disease requires a comprehensive approach.” This article presents evidence suggesting that cannabidiol or CBD should be considered as part of the comprehensive treatment of multiple sclerosis.
CBD is one of the main compounds found in the plant known as cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the other main compound found in cannabis, and the most commonly known, CBD does not have any intoxicating effects. Many studies suggest that CBD holds the most promise in the advancement of medicinal cannabis. A large part of this promise comes from CBD’s potential in treating a wide range of disorders. There is evidence that CBD can be used to treat anxiety, pain, inflammation, and most promisingly for patients afflicted by MS there is evidence supporting its use for neuroprotection. Neuroprotection is a form of treatment that may help prevent neuron loss and the degradation of the central nervous system (CNS). It is thought that most of the damage caused by MS to the CNS comes from inflammation of the CNS and as a result inflammation by the adaptive immune system from being overactive.
CBD’s ability to protect the CNS from deteriorating while also treating inflammation, the main cause of CNS deterioration in MS patients, make it a very intriguing option in helping to treat the disease. That said, studies are still being conducted to see how CBD interacts with THC, and at what ratios the work best together for the treatment of specific disorders. For instance, some sources suggest as high as a 3:1 CBD to THC ratio for treating MS. While the medication Nabiximols, a cannabis extract coming in the form of an oral spray, created by the UK company GW Pharmaceuticals, boasts approximately a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio. Nabiximols, know by its market name of Sativex, is thought to help with bladder problems related to MS, nerve pain, and spasms. Testing is constantly in progress to see just how effective Sativex can be.
Although there has been little overwhelming evidence to support Sativex having a huge effect on MS symptoms, there have been a number of studies that suggest Sativex may help with some MS-related symptoms. If you or anyone you know is considering adding Sativex as part of a comprehensive treatment of MS, definitely consult your doctor, who will be able to answer questions and concerns specific to the individual case. This is important as MS affects everyone differently and no two people’s symptoms are exactly the same.
MS is still a mysterious disease and there are many baffling aspects to it. Researchers are working tirelessly to understand how the disease works. They have made many strides in their research, but to date have not been able to determine an exact cause or cure. As a result of these constant attacks scar tissue, or sclerosis, forms around the nerve fibers, this is where the disease gets its name. If scientists can determine what it is exactly what causes MS, they will be much better suited to develop treatments and possibly a cure for the disease.
Several factors are thought to play a role in the onset of MS. There are many more cases of MS found at latitudes far from the equator where less sunlight and natural vitamin D exist, smoking seems to have an effect on the progress of the disease, and there is also some evidence to support the idea that genetics play a part in the development of MS. One of the leading theories, is that if early on in a person’s life if they are exposed to certain environmental factors it may predispose them to MS. Scientist are constantly working with all this information and beginning to untangle the mystery of MS, hopefully someday soon we will have a more thorough understanding of what it is that leads to MS. Just as these studies into MS are ongoing and necessary, so are the studies into cannabis and CBD. With a disease as complex and harmful as MS, anything we can do to slow its progress or help in its treatment needs to be fully tested and examined.
Over the years, due to popular demand for strains of cannabis high in the psychoactive compound THC, farmers have developed strains lower in CBD. This is partly because the higher the level of THC the more intoxicating the plant becomes and partly due to the fact that CBD acts to counter the psychoactive effects of THC. Therefore as an everyday medicine, CBD holds the potential to benefit patients suffering from a number of ailments, multiple sclerosis included, while having few if any negative side effects. As more states begin to legalize medical marijuana and knowledge of the remarkable benefits of CBD spreads, researchers are creating strains of cannabis with higher levels of CBD, making the medicine more readily available to patients everywhere. Part of the reason CBD hasn’t become more popular in the treatment of disorders, such as MS, is obstacles put in place by the federal government.
As of today, cannabis is still a federally illegal drug, although 27 states have legalized it for medical use. Every one of these states acknowledges that cannabis can play a positive role in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Medications like Sativex exist and have begun to show positive results. The taboo of cannabis being a dangerous and medically useless drug are beginning to fade away and more people are realizing the potential benefits of the plant. Obstacles still exist in the development and understanding of cannabis as medicine, many of these come from the federal government and the slow progression of policy change surrounding cannabis. Luckily for those living in states where cannabis has been legalized, it is readily available for patients to test out for themselves.
Again, it is important to discuss any treatment choices with your doctor before starting to use cannabis, especially if you are already taking other medications. That said, the fact that CBD has virtually no side effects, an incredibly low toxicity that makes it all but impossible to overdose from, and such a wide range of possible medical applications make it an excellent choice for treatment if you are experiencing pain, spasms, an overactive bladder or inflammation. Many products exist that are high in CBD and relatively low in THC, making them mildly if at all psychoactive. These products include CBD oils, CBD candies and dried cannabis flower high in CBD content.