What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a condition created by an abnormal response of the immune system that essentially causes the body to attack itself. MS affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. In MS patients, their immune systems mistakenly destroy healthy nerve cells in the same way they would fight a virus or bacterial infection. This leads to irreversible nerve damage that makes it extremely difficult or impossible for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.
How Multiple Sclerosis effects the body
Symptoms of MS include muscle spasms, numbness or tingling, vision problems, seizures, and a variety of other physical and mental issues. The symptoms and the severity of the condition varies from patient to patient, but they are often debilitating and can lead to paralysis and other lifelong physical restrictions. There is no known cause for MS, and while symptoms can be managed with medication and physical therapy, there is no cure.
Because the symptoms of MS affect the entire body, many patients are on a large number of expensive pharmaceuticals. These drugs don’t always work, and often come with severe side effects of their own. Cannabis-based treatments are becoming more and more popular as a way for MS patients to manage their symptoms and live a normal life.
Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis
Studies have shown that both CBD and THC have great therapeutic potential for treating the muscle spasms that are a hallmark of the disease, as well as fatigue, appetite loss, insomnia, chronic pain, and MS-related anxiety and depression. One key difference that patients have noted is that cannabis works to soothe the source of most MS pain – the damaged nerves – while many pharmaceuticals only work to relieve the resulting muscular and joint pain.
Cannabis is also thought to be a neuroprotectant, which could mean that it has the potential to actually prevent the disease from progressing. Some patients have achieved remission using cannabis, with others reporting drastic improvements like regaining sensation and range of motion in MS-ravaged limbs. Because of these findings, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society supports the use of medical cannabis as a treatment (in states where the law allows) and advocates for further research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for MS patients. Of course, patients should always work with a medical professional to determine if cannabis-based treatments are right for them.