It seems that every where we turn, someone is suggesting CBD for another ailment. From skin conditions to seizures to mental health, CBD seems to treat it all. But is CBD for multiple sclerosis a safe and effective option?
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
A French neurologist first categorized the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) as a disease in 1868. Although there’s no cure, researchers have long-explored treatments for its symptoms. Many of these treatments have helped a lot of people live meaningful, quality lives.
But far too many people experience symptoms that reduce their quality of life. In fact, the American Academy of Neurology published a study that found that MS may even cause an earlier death.
That’s probably because MS is a neurological disease with far-reaching impact. Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. In other words, it’s a disease of the spinal cord and brain. The central nervous system has CBD receptors throughout. That’s probably why researchers are particularly interested in CBD for multiple sclerosis.
This important system is chiefly made up of tiny nerves, surrounded by a layer of fat. Messages sent throughout the nervous system travel through this protective layer of fat.
MS deteriorates the fat layer, which generally disrupts these essential travel paths. For that reason, the body tries to heal these weakened parts of the path. Instead, scar tissue – called sclerosis – builds up in multiple areas. Accordingly, we call this disease multiple sclerosis.
MS is the cause of a wide variety of symptoms that vary from person to person. The following are the most common symptoms, according to National Multiple Sclerosis Society:
- Walking difficulties, such as weakness, loss of balance, and spasticity
- Numbness or tingling in the face, body, arms, or legs
- Stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms in the limbs
- Weakness in the muscles
- Blurred vision or eye pain – Eye problems are usually the first-recognized symptoms of MS.
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Bladder problems.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Constipation and limited control of bowels
- Pain and itching
- Cognitive challenges, such as limited ability to learn and remember new information
- Emotional challenges, such as major depression, mood swings, and irritability
In addition, less common symptoms include speech problems, difficulties swallowing, tremors, seizures, breathing problems, and hearing loss.
Many people already use CBD for several of the above symptoms. For that reason, many researchers find CBD treatment for multiple sclerosis intriguing.
How common is MS?
- MS is the most common autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. FEBS Letters
- The median estimated prevalence of MS is 30 cases per 100,000 people, globally. The highest rates of prevalence are in Hungary, Slovenia, Germany, United States of America, and Canada, respectively. World Health Organization
- Today, more than 2.3 million people around the world have MS. Multiple Sclerosis International Federation
- MS affects about 400,000 people in the United States, which is almost 90 cases per 100,000 people. Multiple Sclerosis News Today
- Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although MS can occur in young children and older adults. National Multiple Sclerosis Society
FDA-Approved Medications for the Treatment of MS
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. But that doesn’t mean MS patients are left to suffer with their symptoms. In fact, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved over 60 medications to treat symptoms.
Doctors most commonly prescribe a class of drugs called beta interferons. Although they improve the severity and frequency of flare-ups, according to Web MD, they can cause flu-like symptoms for as long as a few months.
Web MD discusses other medications for MS treatment, which certainly have noticeable side effects. Some side effects are even dangerous. Here are a few examples:
- Heart damage
- Risk for developing leukemia
- Liver problems
- Birth defects
Every patient and case of MS is different. Therefore, a doctor may prescribe any number of pharmaceutical combinations, according to the patient’s symptoms. But that’s not the only option for treatment.
Doctors may also recommend physical therapy, occupational therapy, lifestyle changes, and stress management. Web MD also notes alternative treatments, such as vitamin D supplements and acupuncture. Awareness about the use of CBD to treat MS is growing, as well.
Effectiveness of CBD Treatment for MS: The Evidence
The 2018 Farm Bill moved CBD from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Schedule I to Schedule V in late 2018. That freed researchers from previous limitations to conduct much-needed studies on CBD for multiple sclerosis.
Although the study of CBD for MS is still in its early stages, many are finding promising results. Here are a few examples:
- Efficiency and Risk of CBD for MS Spasticity
Scientific Research Journal: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
“[CBD medication] can be a useful and safe option for patients with MS with moderate to severe spasticity resistant to common antispastic drugs.”
- Mobility Improvement in People with MS
Scientific Research Journal: Frontiers in Neurology
“Data indicates that cannabis, with 1:1 or greater CBD:THC ratio, reduces muscle spasticity and pain in [people with MS].
- The Influence of THC:CBD on Driving in MS Patients with Spasticity
Scientific Research Journal: Brain and Behavior
“The majority of patients reported an improvement in driving ability after starting THC:CBD [medication]and it was speculated that this may be related to reduced spasticity and/or better cognitive function.”
- THC:CBD in Conjunction with Physical Therapy Efficacy in MS Patients
Scientific Research Journal: PLOS One
“Our real-life study confirms [the CBD medication’s] effectiveness in MS-related spasticity and suggests that the association of a [physical therapy] program may improve overall response and persistence to [CBD] treatment.
- CBD for MS
Scientific Research Journal: British Journal of Pharmacology
“In conclusion, [the CBD medication] improved the neurological deficits evident at the chronic phases of the TMEV-IDD (brain and spinal cord inflammation causing the destruction of nerve tissue in a mouse) model of MS.”
*These studies all determined that CBD treatment for MS symptoms are low risk with minimal side effects.
I would like to try CBD for MS, but I don’t want to get high. Help!
If we had a dollar for every time we heard this, we’d be rich! MS symptoms are often excruciating, generally driving patients to try anything for relief. However, many suffering patients stop short at trying CBD for MS because they don’t want to get high. That’s certainly understandable.
But we have good news! CBD doesn’t have a psychoactive component. That is, you don’t get high when you take CBD. We’ll explain.
The cannabis plant breed has several species. Two of these species are called marijuana and hemp. THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, is most abundant in marijuana. Whereas, CBD, a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, is most abundant in hemp. CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant.
In fact, industrial hemp must have less than 0.3 percent THC for a producer to sell it as CBD. Although, CBD is most effective when all the cannabinoid components of the plant are present, zero-THC CBD is available.
Regardless, if a patient uses CBD for the treatment of MS, then he or she won’t experience psychoactive effects.
Using CBD for the Treatment of MS
CBD effects a multitude of major body functions, from motor coordination to mental health. Multiple sclerosis attacks the central nervous system, which also has a wide-ranging effect on major body functions. It stands to reason that CBD can help counteract many of the symptoms that make MS difficult to live with.
Because of the low risk, patients often feel comfortable with supplementing their MS treatment with CBD. If you’re considering the use of CBD for MS for the first time, our advice is to research, be patient, and pay attention.
Because dosage is different for each person, start at a very small dose first. Then, slightly increase the dose each week until you achieve your best possible results. Since there are no psychoactive effects to show you how it affects you, keep a journal of your symptoms and the dosage of CBD you take. This will help you identify the right dose for you and your symptoms.
Many patients have reported the rapid relief of numerous symptoms, such as pain and inflammation, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and more.
“CBD oil can be therapeutic for three key aspects of multiple sclerosis: pain, cellular health, and depression. Overall, CBD oil may have a therapeutic effect for MS patients and may help to provide a better quality of life,” says Remedy Review.
Our comprehensive CBD guide for beginners is a great place to start. People new to using CBD will learn about the different types of CBD, as well as ways to ingest it. Afterwards, check out our free, user-friendly directory to find CBD oil near you.
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 Berer, Kerstin, and Gurumoorthy Krishnamoorthy. “Microbial View of Central Nervous System Autoimmunity.” FEBS Press, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 18 Apr. 2014, febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1016/j.febslet.2014.04.007.
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