There is a lot of conversation, research and debate surrounding the use and applications for medical marijuana. One area of focus is on marijuana and MS treatment.
MS stands for multiple sclerosis, which is a chronic central nervous system disease that affects the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord.
There has been some promise with regard to research on marijuana and MS treatment. So, how does marijuana help MS? Below are some things to know about marijuana and MS treatment.
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis or MS as mentioned above, is a disease of the central nervous system. The symptoms can vary significantly among people, ranging from just numbness in the arms and legs to paralysis or blindness. When someone is diagnosed with MS, there is no way to determine how the disease will progress, and there are around 10,000 new cases that are diagnosed annually in the U.S.
MS is significantly more common in women than men, and there’s no cure, but there are ways people can treat their symptoms and live their daily lives.
There are four different types of MS which include clinically isolated syndrome, relapse-remitting MS, primary progressive MS and secondary progressive MS.
Some of the general symptoms of this condition include muscle weakness, coordination and balance problems, numbness and tingling, cognition and memory problems, and visual disturbances. Eventually, people with MS can experience a wide range of symptoms like bladder problems, fatigue, muscle spasms, tremors, vision problems, and changes in gait and mobility.
MS may also create emotional and mood symptoms such as depression.
Overall MS is very hard to predict, and it can affect people in significantly different ways.
It’s believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the person’s immune system attacks myelin in the central nervous system like it was a foreign invader such as a virus.
The treatment options for MS currently include corticosteroids and various drugs that affect the immune system.
So, what about marijuana and MS treatment? Does marijuana help MS?
Marijuana and MS Treatment
Researchers are starting to find links between marijuana and MS treatment options, in that marijuana may be an option to effectively deal with many of the symptoms of the disease. The links between marijuana and MS treatment have become so accepted that the disease is recognized by states as a qualifying condition to receive medical marijuana where it’s legal.
Studies have shown that marijuana can help with stiff muscles or uncontrolled muscle movements, overactive bladder and nerve pain.
Some of the specific findings related to marijuana and MS treatment have included:
• A study with results released more than a decade ago showed that cannabis-based medication was two times as effective as a placebo for treating pain, and three times more effective for sleep
- When people have autoimmune disorders, it’s common to have inflammation in the neural tissue, and cannabis is known as having anti-inflammatory properties
- There has been comprehensive research showing that medicines with cannabis can be helpful to treat muscle spasms.
- Often people with MS have gastrointestinal problems and cannabis may be helpful to treat those.
- The use of cannabis may also help with some of the mood-related symptoms of MS. For example, clinical depression is believed to be experienced by up to 50 percent of people with MS, but cannabis or cannabis-based medications might help with this.
For a lot of people with MS, despite the information that’s come to light about marijuana and MS treatment, they don’t want to speak with their physician about the option because of the stigma or because they don’t want to be high. There are options for people who want the benefits of marijuana as an MS treatment option, without being high.
For example, many people with MS might use CBD products, which is a compound found in marijuana that doesn’t get the user high but does provide the benefits named above. CBD is one of the substances in marijuana that tends to show the most therapeutic benefits for MS and other medical conditions, and it’s not psychoactive, so it doesn’t have many of the side effects you would get from smoking marijuana, for example. Much of the focus of research on marijuana and MS treatment options focus on CBD.
Summing Up—Marijuana and MS Treatment
So, does marijuana help MS? The evidence is increasingly pointing to the fact that it might, but it’s not always something doctors will recommend to patients, at least not at this point. There are risks that can come with marijuana as a potential MS treatment, and these have to be carefully weighed and evaluated.
As with most areas of medical marijuana, there also needs to be more in-depth research into marijuana and MS treatment before it’s something that doctors will confidently recommend to patients, although there are exciting things that seem to be coming from current research.
It’s important however that you don’t try to self-medicate with marijuana because it can be dangerous or lead to a substance abuse problem.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.