Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis: How CBD Helps

For hundreds of years cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes, in an effort to cure everything from nausea to anxiety to chronic pain. And one of the most recent and most significant findings has to do with CBD oil and multiple sclerosis. Research has found that cannabis can help both with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis as well as help to prevent the spread of the MS virus.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system. When a person has this debilitating disease his or her immune system attacks the nervous system, which leads to communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body as well as nerve damage throughout the body. Because the brain controls all of your bodily functions, from muscle movements to breathing and digestion, MS is a chronic illness that can cause debilitating pain and damage throughout one’s life. There is currently no cure for MS, but there are constant developments in treatment options, including the use of cannabis and CBD to treat the symptoms of MS.

Cannabis has Intense Anti-inflammatory Properties

Sure, cannabis is used recreationally thanks to its feel-good properties and ability to deliver a “high,” but it also has the powerful ability to reduce inflammation, which is a valuable tool in relieving various physical ailments. With MS, the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath, which is the covering surrounding the central nervous system. When the nerves are exposed they can become inflamed, resulting in issues with nerve communication between the brain and the body. According to a 2013 study in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, “cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid constituent of Cannabis sativa, has potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties.”

In other words, certain chemical compounds in cannabis — compounds that don’t deliver the high but do deliver the physical benefits — are able to both reduce inflammation in the central nervous system as well as inhibit the immune response in MS patients.

Can Medical Marijuana Treat MS?

Turns out cannabis is far more of a super plant than most of us may have realized, especially for patients battling MS. This study investigated the effects of CBD (one of the active cannabinoids in cannabis that does not provide any psychotropic effects) on the central nervous system and nerve cells of viral MS. What they found is that CBD can act both as a beneficial immune regulator to reduce inflammation, and also can provide long-term improvements in terms of the motor deficits associated with the disease. Remember that MS leads to disabled motor skills when your nerves and the communication between your brain and your muscles stop working. CBD is able to minimize those symptoms in both the onset of the disease as well as the chronic phase of the disease.

It’s a big. Freakin. Deal.

According to a report in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, many patients with MS are currently using cannabis to treat their condition, and a vast majority (50–90 percent) would consider using cannabis if it were legal and if there was more scientific proof of its benefits. And while there is still a lot we don’t know about cannabis and its medical uses, experts at a recent meeting sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Marijuana and Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Summit, noted that “it is known that cannabis strains, containing CBD levels equal or higher than THC, have positive effects on muscle spasticity and pain” for people with MS.

CBD Oil and Multiple Sclerosis

It protects the brain, reduces the inflammation that cause nerve damage, and it can support cell growth in the brain. In addition, cannabis can reduce chronic pain by engaging pain receptors in the brain, so you feel less discomfort. CBD can also reduce muscle spasms and alleviate stiffness, so that MS patients can move more comfortably.

And you don’t have to use cannabis or CBD as an illegal substance. Sure, in many states you can get a medical permit to take CBD to treat your MS. But pharmaceutical companies are hopping on board the CBD train as well. One specific medication called Sativex® is a spray that contains a formulated extract of the cannabis sativa plant with equal parts of activated THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio. This medication has been approved to treat muscle spasticity (stiffness/spasm) in 30 countries around the world so far (outside the United States). You can definitely expect to hear more about this and other future medications down the road as we learn more about what CBD can do to treat MS.

Clearly there is a lot of significant therapeutic potential for the use of CBD to treat MS, and considering there is no cure, any treatment that can reduce symptoms and possible slow the spread of the disease’s damage is a big win.

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