Using Cannabis with Multiple Sclerosis
There have been numerous research studies carried out to assess the effects of cannabinoids on multiple sclerosis related pain, spasticity, and bladder symptoms. The majority of studies included fairly small numbers of individuals with MS and the result procedures differed amongst studies. Nevertheless, reviews of published research studies have actually generally shown that synthetic cannabinoids favorably affect signs of discomfort and spasticity. Less is known about the impact of breathed in or ingested botanical marijuana on MS signs.
The Neuroprotective Potential
Though research is limited at this time, CBD and medical marijuana have been shown to ease symptoms related to multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. It was also shown to reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in test-tube and animal studies.
The endocannabinoid system, in conjunction with other neurotransmitters and systems, play a role in managing the neurological system. As such, they also play a role in those with disorders of this system.
Neurologic disorders include, but are not limited to, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as the effects of other diseases, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of arthritis. There is an understanding among scientific researches that CBD may influence and impact the endocannabinoid system as well as other neurotransmitters, to provide additional benefits in both the diseases and the symptoms of these disorders.
Internationally a product called Sativex, an oral spray that includes both CBD and THC, has already been approved and is in wide use for the treatment of muscle spasticity in those patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. While not currently approved in the United States, the research has shown promise that in addition to this use, the results have prompted researchers to further review the impact of CBD on other neurological disorders, with the highest interest and research being conducted on both multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
- One study found that Sativex reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with multiple sclerosis who were experiencing muscle spasticity that was resistant to medications.
- Another study gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 g/kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5%.
- One more study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared to a placebo.
Despite the promising outcomes, there have been several side effects that have been associated with the treatment in these vulnerable patients, including fever, fatigue, and more severely, convulsions. Further studies are required to understand the relationship of the underlying disorders and the side effects, but the progress is promising. As such CBD is also being studies to treat other neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s, both for the underlying disorder as well as it’s impact on quality of life and sleep quality in those patients.
Of particular interest to many is the interest in studies on the effects of CBD on Alzheimer’s disease. Early animal test tube studies have shown a decrease in inflammation which may indicate an effectiveness of preventing neurodegeneration, a hallmark of the debilitating disease. Another study has shown promise in CBD and the delay of onset of Alzheimer’s in pre-disposed mice, indicating it did show initial results indicating it helped prevent cognitive decline.
The future of the research and testing of CBD in this area could mark a huge advancement in the treatment and care of individuals prone to and suffering from a number of neurological disorders.
For more information from the National MS Society, click here »
- NIH: Marijuana and Muscle Spasticity
- NIH: Cannabinoids in the management of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- National Library of Medicine: Clinical Trials: Cannabis for Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis
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