MS and Cannabis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a rare disease in which the immune system becomes overactive, and attacks and strips away the protective covering of nerves. The resulting nerve damage disrupts the communication between the brain and body, causing many different symptoms such as pain, impaired coordination and muscle spasticity, vision loss, nausea and fatigue.
According to current research, medical marijuana contains properties that may ease symptoms of MS. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are primary chemicals studied. CBD shows promise in easing pain, spasticity and nausea. It may also help with the depression and anxiety that can come from living with a progressive, chronic illness such as MS (3).
A 2012 trial (1) studied the effects of smoking cannabis relating to the symptoms of MS, specifically pain. It was found that smoking cannabis was more effective in easing pain than a placebo.
In another 2012 study (2), THC oral cannabis use was given to MS patients and they had a much more significant reduction in pain than those who were given a placebo. According to the study, treatment with standardized oral extract of Cannabis Sativa relieved pain caused by muscle stiffness. The proportion of participants who experienced relief was almost twice as much in the Cannabis group as in the placebo group (29.4% vs 15.7%).
The Institute of Medicine, now called the National Academy of Medicine, studied (4) the effects of cannabis, and concluded:
In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms. In adults with multiple sclerosis (MS)-related spasticity, short-term use of oral cannabinoids ( The Makery Edibles makes it easy to dose ) improves patient-reported spasticity symptoms.
According to Frontiers in Neurology (5), data indicates that cannabis, with 1:1 or greater CBD:THC ratio reduces muscle spasticity and pain in MS patients. It also reduces the usage of prescription drugs, particularly pharmaceutical opioids, benzodiazepines and antidepressants. Common side effects of these pharmaceuticals may include physical dependence, dizziness, sedation, constipation, tolerance, respiratory depression, blurred vision and anxiety. These side effects may delay or even prevent successful physical rehabilitation of those living with MS.
Cannabis trials continue to show promise in easing symptoms related to those who are living with MS. Always check with your doctor prior to trying cannabis for your treatment.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12.