Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating disease that has destroyed millions of lives. The pain and havoc that MS inflicts on patient’s lives is notoriously hard to handle. That’s why there’s so much interest in the effect that cannabis has on the disease. CBDin particular is being intensely researched.
MS is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. The body begins to destroy the myelin sheaths covering the nerve cells in the brain, effectively stripping the cells of their insulation. As the disease progresses, neurological and physical symptoms typically worsen. Patients often suffer pain and mobility issues.
Most MS medications have a middling success rate. That’s why the growing body of research regarding cannabis’ effect on MS is so encouraging. According to a 2012 study referenced by the National MS Society:
“Participants with stable MS were randomly assigned to receive oral cannabis extract (144 people) or placebo (135 people), and reported their perceptions of changes in muscle stiffness before and after 12 weeks of treatment. Muscle stiffness improved by almost twofold in the group taking cannabis compared to placebo….” (1).
There is countless anecdotal evidence of MS patients experiencing relief after using cannabis.(2)However, some patients dislike the mental high that comes from the THC. Thankfully, there is evidence that pure CBD provides many of the same benefits as whole-cannabis extracts.The non-psychoactive cannabinoid is becoming easier to purchase as states relax their cannabis laws. Almost every state that has legalized medical cannabis lists MS as a qualifying condition to receive a doctor’s recommendation.
Most of the people who are aware of the disease also know that it’s incredibly hard to treat. No two MS patient treatments are alike. Cannabis and its derivatives are sometimes the only things that bring patients relief. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers aren’t well-versed in the benefits of CBD, which has not yet been FDA approved to treat MS. That means patients are often stuck paying for it themselves, or trying to get the medicine from untrustworthy sources. Or worse, they’re never told about the amazing things that can happen if they begin taking CBD.
Multiple sclerosis continues to affect more people. It’s estimated that there are at least 400,000 people suffering from MS in the U.S. alone, with 200 new cases diagnosed each week (3). In Europe, patients have access to a drug called Sativex, an oral spray with a 1:1 to ratio of THC and CBD. (4) It’s been very promising so far. It hasn’t yet been approved in the U.S., however, likely because of cannabis’ status as Schedule 1 drug.
If cannabis can provide relief for even a small percentage ofMS patients, then it is a worthwhile enough reason to investigate it further.