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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis or MS is an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the sufferer’s own immune system attacks and damages the individual’s brain and spinal cord - the two primary components of the central nervous system. Symptoms of this severely debilitating ailment vary from individual to individual, dependent on how long and how far the disease has progressed but they include: loss of sensitivity or changes in sensitivity throughout various parts of one’s body; significant weakness and or stiffness in the muscles; very pronounced reflexes; muscle spasms; difficulty with moving parts of one’s body; difficulties with balance and motor coordination (ataxia); visual problems; difficulties controlling one’s bladder and bowels; chronic pain and the resulting fatigue. Depression, insomnia, and anxiety typically accompany the symptoms of MS.

The exact cause of MS is currently unknown but it is theorized that genetics, environmental factors, and even infections may all contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Sadly there is no known cure yet, but there are a number of medications and experimental treatments aimed at tackling the symptoms of the ailment.

Using Cannabis to Treat MS

Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. Its usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and its versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.

Much of the focus surrounding cannabis as a possible therapy for MS has been aimed at exploring the usefulness of both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) in treating numerous symptoms of the ailment. In fact, one review by Baker et al., published at the Department of Neuroinflammation in April 2003 states, “Cannabinoids provide a novel therapeutic target, not only for controlling symptoms, but also slowing disease progression through inhibition of neurodegeneration, which is the cause of accumulating irreversible disability.”

Exciting studies in general have shown that cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from MS for the following reasons: significantly reducing pain, spasticity, and tremors; helping to manage nausea; helping to deal with incontinence; reducing possible anxiety; combatting depression and the resulting fatigue; and with delaying the onset and progression of the disease.

Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating MS

Although much of the research thus far concerning cannabis as an adjunct therapy to MS has been focused on THC and CBD, it is important to remember that the cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for treating some of the other symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

The following chart denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for significant therapeutic benefit. It may be beneficial to seek out strains that contain these cannabinoids and terpenoids.

References

Understanding medical cannabis. Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.

Meta-analysis of cannabis based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain. Iskedjian, Michael, et al.
Current Medical Research and Opinion, 2007, 23(1): 17-24.

Randomized, controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. Collin, C., et al. European Journal of Neurology, 2007 Mar, 14(3): 290-296.

Cannabinoids in multiple sclerosis (CAMS) study: safety and efficacy data for 12 months follow up. Zajicek, J. P., et al.
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2005, 76: 1664-1669.

Randomized, controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in central pain in multiple sclerosis. Rog, David J., et al.
Neurology, 2005 Sep 27, 65(6): 812-819.

Do cannabis-based medicinal extracts have general or specific effects on symptoms in multiple sclerosis? A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on 160 patients. Wade, Derick T., et al.
Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 2004, 10(4): 434-441.

Does the cannabinoid dronabinol reduce central pain in multiple sclerosis? randomised double blind placebo controlled crossover trial. Svendsen, Kristina B., et al.
BMJ, 2004 May 12, 329.

Cannabinoids in multiple sclerosis. Killestein, Dr. Joep, et al.
Drugs, 2004 Jan, 64(1): 1-11.

Cannabinoids for treatment of spasticity and other symptoms related to multiple sclerosis (CAMS study): multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial. Zaicek, J. P., et al.
The Lancet, 2003 Nov 8, 362(9395): 1517-1526.

Immunomodulatory effects of orally administered cannabinoids in multiple sclerosis. Killestein, J., et al.
Journal of Neuroimmunology, 2003 Apr, 137(1-2): 140-143.

The therapeutic potential of cannabis in multiple sclerosis. Baker, David, et al.
Department of Neuroinflammation, Institute of Neurology, 2003 Apr, 12(4): 561-567.

Cannabis for multiple sclerosis. Fox, P.J., et al.
Practical Neurology, 2002, 2(3): 154-160.

Cannabinoids and multiple sclerosis. Pertwee, Robert G.
Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2002 Aug, 95(2): 165-174.

Cannabinoids control spasticity and tremor in a multiple sclerosis model. Baker, David, et al.
Nature, 2000 Mar 2, 404: 84-87.

The perceived effects of smoked cannabis on patients with multiple sclerosis. Consroe, P., et al.
European Neurology, 1997, 38(1): 44-48.

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