Multiple sclerosis is a disease for which there is no known cure. The causes of the disease remain a mystery, however doctors do know that the disease causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue in the body. For this reason it is classified as an autoimmune disease. Other examples of autoimmune diseases include Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
The earliest signs of multiple sclerosis are tingling and numbness, usually in the hands. These early signs typically appear between the ages of 20 to 40. However a small percentage of patients are diagnosed as early as 18 years of age.
Multiple sclerosis causes muscle spasticity, chronic pain, vision problems, fatigue, insomnia, a decline in bladder function, depression and a decrease in cognitive ability. Most people with multiple sclerosis will have severely restricted movement after some time and will eventually end up needing full time care from others.
Although the symptoms of the disease can be very severe, the prognosis is usually quite good for patients. Except in extreme cases, multiple sclerosis is not fatal. Most patients will die from the same causes as people who do not have the condition.
The current treatments for multiple sclerosis are largely based on disease-modifying drugs (DMD) which aim to slow down the progression of the disease, and pain medications which aim to lower the level of chronic pain experienced by the patient.
However, both DMDs and pain medications can have unwanted side effects. For this reason, many multiple sclerosis patients have tried alternative treatments that they believe work for them and perhaps the most popular of these is cannabis.
Medical cannabis has not yet been approved by the FDA as a suitable treatment for multiple sclerosis. However, this hasn’t stopped patients from using it. In the clinical trials which have explored the effects of the drug on the disease, very promising results suggest that it could become a standard treatment in the future.