Multiple sclerosis (MS for short), is a serious illness that targets the spinal cord and brain. Once a person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it is incurable. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t many treatments to help with managing its symptoms.
Medically approved cannabis treatment is available for those suffering with MS in the form of a mouth spray. The spray is mostly there for people that experience severe spasticity and don’t receive any relief from standard anti-spasticity medicine. However, research is still ongoing on how to help those with MS with the assistance of medicinal cannabis.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.
The conclusion from clinical studies is still unknown in relation to cannabinoid efficiency. It is consistent with the biology of cannabis that beneficial and psychoactive effects will invariably be linked. However, there are consistent improvements in certain signs such as spasticity, pain and sleep from the patient perspectives. These appear to validate claims made in previous studies.
It might be necessary to address problems in the oral delivery of cannabinoids, because this is unsatisfactory for short-term studies of symptom relief and because other routes such as an aerosol inhaler might produce better efficacy by enabling patients to minimize side-effects. This study has shown that cannabinoids are quite efficient in relieving muscle spasticity arising from MS symptoms, however more studies are needed so that psychoactive effects can be minimized.
There is much potential for researchers to develop weaker agonists of the CB1 receptor that can have therapeutic benefit and also widen the therapeutic window, because the current window between symptom relief and psychoactivity of THC or cannabis is narrow. In addition, targeting endocannabinoid degradation by inhibiting uptake or degradative enzymes could locally target sites of damage where endocannabinoids are upregulated, while sparing cognitive sites and reducing unwanted psychoactive effects. The long-term experiment described in this study is particularly encouraging because the results indicate that cannabis not only relieves symptoms but also is potentially neuroprotective and involved in synaptic plasticity; this should be investigated further.
It is clear, however, that cannabinoids present a novel target for symptom relief in many neurological conditions, not just in treating MS, and that they might also have an important neuroprotective role in slowing disease progression of central nervous system disease. The difficult task for the future will be to determine whether these emerging biological effects can be better identified in clinical trials.