What to know about medical marijuana and multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a serious and sometimes lifelong health condition that triggers a series of symptoms, which can become catastrophic. According to the National Multiple Slcerosis society, an estimated 1 million adults in the U.S. suffer from MS Society. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke also suggest a lower figure, of 250,000–350,000, but they add that it is difficult to know exactly how many people are suffering from this disease.

What is Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis commonly known as MS, is a lifelong disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in human eyes. It can result to problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. The effects vary in different individuals with the disease as some patients have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment while other may have trouble getting around and doing their daily tasks. MS happens when the immune system attacks a fatty material called myelin, which wraps around the nerve fibers to protect them for damage and formation of Scar tissue.  This render the brain incapable of sending signals through the body correctly and the nerves might also fail to work as they should to help the body move and feel. This might trigger symptoms such as trouble walking, feeling tired, muscle weakness or spasms blurred or double vision, numbness and tingling,  Sexual problems,  poor bladder or bowel control PainDepression, and Problems focusing or remembering

Most people suffering with MS experience attacks, also known as relapses, when the condition gets chronic. In recent years, scientists have found many new treatments that can often help prevent relapses and slow the disease’s effects, medical marijuana being one of the most renowned .In patients  with MS, the immune system is overactive and triggers  damage to cells in the brain, spinal cord, or optical nerves that sum to make up the human central nervous system

Medical Marijuana, which commonly known as cannabis, is now legal in many states of the United States. The American  National Multiple Sclerosis Society support the use of medical marijuana for people with MS in some instances and where it is lawful but the drug just like any other conventional drug  does have side effects, and it may not be suitable for everyone.  More Clinical studies is therefore necessary before the Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) can approve the use of marijuana for MS

What is medical marijuana (cannabis)?

Medical marijuana uses the marijuana plant or chemical compounds imbedded in it to treat several diseases or conditions. It is however basically the same product as marijuana used for recreation, but it is different in that it’s taken for medical purposes.

This plant is composed of more than 100 different chemicals known as cannabinoids, each one having a different effect on the body.  The main marijuana compounds used in medicine include Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces the “high” people feel when they smoke marijuana or eat foods containing it and cannabidiol (CBD).

The Benefits of marijuana for MS

The chemical compounds imbedded in marijuana (THC and CBD) have different medicinal effects on the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the principal chemicals in marijuana has psychoactive properties that cause the “high” of the drug during smoking. On the other hand, another compound known as  cannabidiol (CBD) does not possess psychoactive effects.  THC increases appetite, reduce nausea, and improve muscle control issues while CBD is useful for controlling epileptic seizures and treating mental health conditions. Both THC and CBD help in reducing pain and inflammation in the body. Epidiolex, a cannabis-infused drug approved FDA contains almost no THC and is almost 100% CBD

In a research work published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, the investigators gave people with MS either an oral extract of marijuana or a placebo for 12 weeks. The results showed that people in the marijuana group experienced almost twice as much relief from muscle stiffness.

Another larger clinical study in 2011  involved 572 people with MS who were administered either oral cannabis extract or a placebo and it was suggested that marijuana extract is an effective treatment for spasticity in people with MS. Spasticity is however the continuous contraction of certain muscles and it is the most common symptom of MS.

Another systematic review in 2014 established strong evidence supporting the use of medical marijuana as treatment for MS-related muscle problems. They also suggested that Marijuana may be useful for cognitive symptoms of MS such as difficulty in thinking as  people with MS who smoked marijuana achieved better results on cognitive tests in comparison with those who did not use the drug.

Medical marijuana is also very beneficial for reducing tremors, which happen to be another primary symptom of MS. A clinical research found existing evidence to support the use of marijuana to reduce tremors in people with MS. Since MS is a disease that attacks the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, marijuana plant, or Cannabis sativa, has dozens of chemicals that can affect your mind and body positively.

 

A renowned national group of scientific institutions came into a consensus that marijuana is proven or highly likely to help ease stiffness and muscle spasms that are common symptoms of MS. Some evidence also suggests that cannabis or its active compounds, known as cannabinoids, may ease sleep problems in some patients suffering with MS, fibromyalgia, and certain other medical conditions.

The Takeaway message

Medical Marijuana may be beneficial for patients suffering with MS. Scientific evidence gathered from several clinical studies suggest that it can lessen pain, muscle problems, and bladder issues. However more research is necessary to confirm these findings. People should thus speak with their doctor before deciding to use marijuana for MS. The doctor can help them weigh up the costs and benefits of the treatment and determine whether or not it is safe and suitable for them and the doses to take.