Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It affects 2.5 million people worldwide. The symptoms get worse as the disease progresses, causing:
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness in the limbs
- Vision loss
- Problems controlling bladder and/or bowels
Traditional methods of treating MS can involve intense pharmaceuticals that can cause a number of negative, and sometimes dangerous, side effects. These drugs can also be quite expensive and are not always effective at treating all symptoms of the disease.
Medical marijuana for MS could be the treatment you’ve been looking for. Medical cannabis treats many of the symptoms MS patients experience at once instead of requiring multiple different types of drugs.
Keep reading to learn how medical marijuana can help treat MS.
1. Pain Relief
One of the most debilitating symptoms of MS is the muscle and nerve pain. Back pain, limb pain, headaches, and painful cramping/spasms are all common symptoms of MS.
Traditional methods of pain relief usually involve strong drugs including opiates. These drugs are extremely addictive and can result in dangerous side effects.
One of the most common uses of medical cannabis for MS is pain relief. Two prominent chemicals in marijuana, THC and CBD, are both able to interact with the pain receptors in your body. They work to reduce the amount of pain you feel by interfering with pain receptors sending pain signals to your brain.
Scientific studies have proved that marijuana can help reduce chronic pain without the dangerous side effects of opiates and other traditional forms of pain relief.
Marijuana also contains chemicals called cannabinoids that can help reduce inflammation. Inflammation can and will lead to pain, and has been shown to be a cause of pain and symptoms in MS patients. Reducing this inflammation via medical cannabis will also serve as a pain reliever.
Another prominent symptom of MS is the tremors and muscle spasms. Not only can these spasms make it hard to move around and function normally, but they also can cause sharp and sudden pain to MS sufferers.
Numerous studies have tested the antispasmodic properties of medical marijuana and showed that cannabis use decreased both muscle spasms and muscle spasticity. While the exact biological pathway that causes the reduction in spasms and cramping is unclear, it’s thought that the cannabinoids in cannabis play a role.
We also mentioned the anti-inflammatory properties of medical cannabis previously. It’s thought that cannabis helps decrease inflammation in both muscles and nerves. This decrease in inflammation around the nerves could be what prevents and reduces muscle spasms.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Now that we’ve mentioned the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana multiple times, let’s go into it in a little more detail.
The cannabinoids in marijuana interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are responsible for inducing inflammation and immune responses. By interacting with these receptors, cannabinoids are able to reduce inflammation in the muscles, nerves, and even the brain.
Inflammation in the brain and nerves results in neural degeneration and many of the symptoms of MS. Reducing this inflammation is essential to slow the progression of the disease as well as provide relief from many symptoms of MS.
Not only do cannabinoids help prevent further neural degeneration, they can also induce neurogenesis (the creation of novel brain/nerve cells) as well.
Muscle spasticity is something we mentioned earlier. This refers to constant or near constant muscle stiffness and tension that can plague MS patients.
Muscle stiffness and numbness makes it hard for MS patients to move normally. Their mobility is often severely reduced because of this muscle stiffness combined with a loss of coordination and loss of feeling in the limbs.
Using medical cannabis for MS can help relieve these symptoms and drastically improve mobility. One study showed that 37 out of the 50 test patients saw a great improvement in their ability along with a reduction in muscle spasms when using cannabis.
5. Sleep Improvements
Between pain and muscle spasms, many MS patients have trouble falling and staying asleep throughout the night. MS patients can also suffer from hormonal imbalances, pain fatigue, and sleep disturbances from traditional MS medications.
Getting restful sleep helps your body stay healthy and fight disease. Without proper sleep, a patient’s condition can easily be worsened.
Studies show that certain strains of cannabis can help promote sleep for those suffering from sleep disturbances as a result of MS.
This combined with the analgesic and antispasmodic properties of cannabis will promote sleep for MS patients.
6. Mental Improvements
As many as 50% of MS patients also suffer from clinical depression. This could be a result of living with chronic pain: 50% of chronic pain sufferers also suffer from depression or anxiety.
But, it could also be a direct result of MS itself. Both inflammation in the brain and nerves along with neural degeneration have been linked to clinical depression. Depression is also a major side effect of traditional MS medications.
Fortunately, medical marijuana can also work as an antidepressant. The active chemicals in marijuana, including THC and CBD, relieve symptoms of depression.
It’s thought that the chemicals in cannabis can directly interact with mood-regulation pathways by interacting with both nerves and receptors. This can boost mood and reduce feelings of sadness.
The reduction of pain and spasms can also lead to an improved mood and a reduction in feelings of depression.
Marijuana for MS: Enjoy Benefits
Multiple sclerosis is a scary disease that affects almost everything you do. Walking, doing errands, sleeping, and everyday activities will all be affected by this disease.
But, the symptoms of MS can be treated with medical cannabis. Using marijuana for MS might seem like something reserved for hippies or people who wear tie-dye, but the benefits of medical cannabis for this disease are undeniable.
If you’d like to learn more information on how to live a healthy life, check out our other articles on health.