Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition which is caused by the immune system. In patients with this condition, the immune system actively attacks healthy tissue in the body, mistaking it for a threat.
While this is the cause of all auto-immune conditions, in the case of multiple sclerosis the immune system destroys a substance called myelin which protects the brain and spinal chord. The results are:
There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis at present, so patients and their medical teams must focus their attention on minimizing their symptoms and maximizing their quality of life. The current treatments available for this purpose are known as disease-modifying medications.
While these drugs do have a high rate of efficacy, they can cause some unwanted side effects. There is a wide variety of these drugs on the market today, and each can cause their own side effects which vary from fatigue and depression to heart failure and kidney failure. As a result, medical researchers are exploring alternative treatment options for multiple sclerosis, and one of the most promising of these is cannabis.
There have been a number of studies conducted in recent years into the effects of cannabis, a known pain reliever, on multiple sclerosis. So far, the results of these studies have been somewhat mixed, but they appear to be positive overall.
A recent study recorded the experiences of 780 adult multiple sclerosis patients via a questionnaire. The study found that 72% of the participants supported the legalization of cannabis for medicinal use and that a majority of the patients had not used cannabis as a treatment because it was illegal.
However, 16% reported that they had used the drug to treat their condition, and that this had led to a marked reduction in pain, spasicity and depression.
This study is helpful in understanding the levels of cannabis use among multiple sclerosis patients, and certainly supports the theory that cannabis can effectively reduce some of the most severe symptoms of the condition.
Unfortunately,the scope of this study was limited. Only 62% of those who were contacted chose to take part in the questionnaire and this was a relatively low number. Larger, more representative studies are needed to better understand the relationship between medical cannabis and the symptoms of multiple sclerosis in the future.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.