The use of cannabis as a medicine has been around for centuries. The first written record of using marijuana for healing dates back to the 15th century, BCE in China. Humanity has been using marijuana as medicine ever since. Many states in the country are now declaring it legal for medical use, and those who suffer from various diseases and conditions are looking to relieve their symptoms.
One of those conditions is Multiple Sclerosis. It affects an estimated 2.3 million people globally, with 200 new diagnoses each week in the United States alone.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease where the body’s immune system attacks myelin and nerve fibers found in the central nervous system. Myelin is the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers. The immune system then attacks the cells which make the myelin. The damaged areas form scar tissue, which gives the disease its name; multiple areas of scarring or multiple sclerosis.
What are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are varied and unpredictable. No two people have the exact same experience, and progression can even fluctuate over time. One person may not feel more than a few symptoms, while another can experience a lot more. The more common symptoms of MS include:
- Difficulties with gait while walking
- Numbness or tingling
- Vision problems
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Bladder problems
- Sexual problems
- Bowel problems
- Chronic pain and itching
- Cognitive changes
- Emotional changes
Here are the more less-well-known symptoms of multiple sclerosis:
- Speech problems
- Swallowing problems
- Breathing problems
- Hearing loss
Medical marijuana can help with many of these. Combined with prescription medication, it can help those with living with Multiple Sclerosis to have fulfilling lives.
How Medical Marijuana Can Help
When it comes to treating the symptoms of MS, even the National MS Society advocates for safe access to medical marijuana for patients who live within states where it’s legal. They also support further research into the potential of cannabis as a treatment option.
Most studies only focus on synthetic derivatives for treating the spasticity associated with MS while very few have studied the effects of whole-plant cannabis on symptoms. More studies are needed but people are finding that cannabis helps with the following symptoms:
- A “gold standard trial” conducted in 2005 studied the effect of whole-plant cannabis-based extract vs. placebo in treating pain and sleep disturbances. The cannabis-based medication worked twice as well as the placebo.
- When the immune cells attack the central nervous system, neural tissue inflammation occurs. Cannabis has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties.
- A review, published in 2014 provided high-quality evidence that cannabis-based medicine was effective in treating muscle spasms.
- Scottish researcher Roger Pertwee saw in a study that 51-60% of respondents reported a decrease in bathroom urgency, a 44% decrease in urinary incontinence, and a 30% decrease in constipation.
- Additionally, more than 90% of Pertwee’s respondents reported that botanical cannabis helped to improve mood.
Methods of Ingesting Medical Cannabis for MS
There are several different options for bringing medical cannabis into your system. The right option depends on the symptoms you hope to relieve and how fast you need relief.
- Edibles – edibles can take 30-60 minutes to feel relief, but most report that they get a stronger dose of medicine that lasts longer.
- Cannabutter – adding cannabutter to cooking, such as in an omelet, can generate
- Vaporization – vaporizing can provide immediate relief to a variety of symptoms. It is also discreet and can be done on-the-go.
Best Strains for Treating the Symptoms of MS
With all conditions, some strains are better at treating certain symptoms than others. Here are the five best strains for those suffering from MS.
- Sojay Haze – This sativa is energizing and uplifting, which is great for those suffering from fatigue as one of their primary symptoms. It has a relaxed euphoria that is perfect for calming down but also can also provide focus.
- Russian Assassin – This is an indica strain that is perfect for nighttime use. It helps to relax the body and relieve pain associated with MS. It also helps combat the anxiety that some with MS suffer.
- Super Sour Diesel – This is a hybrid strain which provides the energetic properties of a sativa, but also the relaxation of an indica. This is perfect for when you need useful energy combined with potent pain relief.
- Critical Mass – This indica provides relief from insomnia, pain, stress, depression, and anxiety. This strain is also perfect for nighttime use.
- One to One – This hybrid is unique, its CBD to THC ratio is 1 to 1, hence its name. The high CBD content provides a counteraction to the psychoactive effects of the THC. It is great for relieving the muscle spasms and spasticity experienced by MS patients.
Multiple sclerosis is a serious condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Due to the nature of the disease, no one experiences the same symptoms or progression. Never attempt to self-treat or self-diagnose MS. Medical cannabis can help treat many symptoms but should not be used without the guidance of your physician. Always ask for the advice of your physician before incorporating any treatment, natural or prescription, into your regimen.