Multiple Sclerosis (also known as M.S.) is a neurological disorder; it is believed to be an autoimmune disease. This means that the body's immune response is attacking the central nervous system. This results in inflammation of the myelin sheaths that protect the nerves in the brain and spine.
Latest estimates show that 1 in every 340 Canadians live with the disease. This puts Canada at the highest rate of M.S. in the world, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada . The disease is mainly diagnosed in young adults but can also be present in children and appear in the elderly later in life.
Multiple sclerosis presents itself in a variety of ways. Here is a list of some of the symptoms:
- Visual changes
- Bladder and bowel issues
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle spasms and tightness
- Cognitive impairment
- Moderate to severe pain
- Sensory impairment
So, why so many symptoms? The central nervous system integrates and responds to sensory information. This means that the spine acts as a conduit for signals travelling between the brain and the body. Since M.S. disrupts the message, it can affect people in various ways depending on the degree of their disease. For example, 50–70% of M.S. patients experience pain in various degrees.
There are several drugs currently available to manage the symptoms. These drugs work by curbing the immune system so it doesn’t attack the myelin sheath. The side-effects for these drugs include aches, fatigue, fever and chill, but they eventually subside. Some of the more potent drugs, however, have even harsher side effects. These can range from abnormal liver function, hair loss, increased risk of infection and slow heart rate. M.S. is an overwhelming disease; agonizing side-effects from medication designed to help, does not inspire much confidence… What if there was a better option?
Medical marijuana is currently being explored as a treatment option for patients suffering from M.S. due to several reasons:
Cannabis Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
The CB1-receptor (THC) found in cannabis can reduce the immune response. This leads to a reduction in the inflammation that causes myelin sheath breakdown in the spine and neural paths.
Cannabis Reduces Pain
Cannabis is proven to help manage pain. As pain affects 50–70% of all individuals with multiple sclerosis, cannabis is an important option to consider. Additionally, inflammation and pain tend to go together. Marijuana’s ability to reduce inflammation and engage with pain receptors in the body, makes it an effective tool. A 2007 study even proved that THC was more effective at managing M.S. pain than CBD or synthetic versions of THC.
Cannabis Stops Muscle Spasms
Involuntary muscle spasms are another symptom of multiple sclerosis and affect 80% of patients . TThese spasms cause a sharp, temporary pain resulting from muscle contraction and stiffness. Fortunately, cannabis is proven to reduce both the frequency of spasms and the severity. A 2005 study found that roughly 75% of patients saw an improvement in their muscle spasms when started on cannabis . Then a 2012 study found cannabis to be twice as effective at treating these spasms than the placebo . This goes back to the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis and its ability to slow development of the disease because of it.
Cannabis Can Ease Gastrointestinal Issues
Bladder and bowel issues are common among M.S. patients, which is not surprising as 70% of immune cells reside in the gut . Fortunately, cannabinoids engage with those immune cells and work to reduce inflammation in the gut. Additionally, THC is a proven appetite stimulant; this gets your digestive juices flowing and makes for a more positive eating experience.
Cannabis Improves Sleep
For patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, a good night’s sleep is hard to find. With pain, spasms and other symptoms, rest is not easy. That is where cannabis comes in. Cannabis is proven to reduce the ailments that cause restlessness, such as pain and muscle spasms. In addition, it is able to assist the user with falling asleep as well as sleeping more deeply . A good sleep is vital to mental, emotional, and physical wellness. When these three areas work together, it is easier to cope with stressful situations — such as being an M.S. sufferer.
Cannabis Reduces Depression
Lastly, cannabis can help fight depression. This is common for individuals who suffer from any kind of disease, but especially those that cause chronic pain. Over 90% of patients in a US and UK survey noted that cannabis helped them to manage symptoms of depression. Additionally, it reduced the emotional dysfunction caused by being physically weak and handling an intense illness.
There are various strains suitable for M.S. patients, depending on the symptoms present. For example, Berry OG Kush is suitable for depression and chronic pain. On the other hand, Moby Dick is known for its ability to manage depression, pain and muscle spasms.
Some other strains to consider for relief of M.S. symptoms include:
- Bubba Cookies for evening pain relief
- Black Afghani Rose for inflammation, chronic pain and nausea
- Gorilla Glue for gastrointestinal disorders, insomnia, nausea, chronic pain and depression
Cannabis has come a long way in the last decade. Today, more and more studies are coming to light proving its viability for individuals who suffer from physical pain or emotional distress. This makes it worth some consideration. Despite zero cited side-effects for cannabis and multiple sclerosis, always talk to your doctor prior to starting a new form of treatment.
If you think cannabis is right for you, there are a growing number of dispensaries, including mail order marijuana services, to make it easy to get the medication you need right to your door. Cannabiz Network Washington caters to Canadians like you and we believe everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality product. Check out our FAQ for more information on how to buy cannabis online.