Is CBD Oil Effective in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis often referred to as MS, can in some diagnosis be a debilitating autoimmune disease that impacts the spinal cord and the brain. The severity of MS symptoms varies dramatically between patients and over time. Many sufferers find that the symptoms of the disease get worse over time.
Multiple Sclerosis most common characterisation is that the condition causes major issues with mobility. This can be as serious as total paralysis or numbness in the sufferer’s limbs. MS sufferers also commonly have symptoms such as fatigue, muscle spasms, pain, cognitive impairment and sometimes problems with their vision.
The true cause of Multiple Sclerosis remains unknown, but there is extensive research being carried out to try to ascertain the precise cause of the disease. There have been studies on animals using experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal equivalent of MS in humans, revealed that T cells crossing the blood brain barrier which triggered neuroinflammation. In turn, this caused the destruction of myelinated neuronal cells and produced symptoms of paralysis.
What are the different types of Multiple Sclerosis?
The body’s nervous system is surrounded in a protective coating known as the myelin sheath. Multiple Sclerosis causes damage to this protective layer as the immune system attacks it. That leaves the nerve cells exposed and scarred.
There are four different variations of multiple sclerosis.
Progressive-Relapsing (PRMS) – this is the rarest form of MS. The disease gets worse over time and flares up in relapses. After experiencing one of these attacks, the chance of a full recovery is not known.
Secondary-Progressive (SPMS) – With SPMS, the symptoms deteriorate between flare ups even if a flare up doesn’t actually occur.
Relapsing Remitting (RRMS) – This is the most common form of Multiple Sclerosis and accounts for approximately 80% of cases. It is the least debilitating of all the variations of MS. Relapses occur when the symptoms flare up and are followed by long recovery times.
Primary Progressive (PPMS) – PPMS gradually gets worse from the onset of the condition, flare ups are not common in those suffering from PPMS.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol which is commonly referred to as CBD or CBD oil, is a non-psychoactive element of the Cannabis plant. CBD is known to have anti-inflammation properties which makes it a useful tool in treating many chronic conditions. There are over 150 cannabinoids contained within the cannabis plant and CBD is one of the most active compounds. It is THC that is the psychoactive element of the cannabis plant and is outlawed across most of the world.
Multiple Sclerosis and CBD Oil
Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD is the primary non-psychoactive element of the cannabis plant. CBD is known to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects that can assist in treating conditions that are either caused or enhanced by prominent inflammation. CBD is also known to have neuroprotective effects and may be a useful tool in treating suspected autoimmune diseases, conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Considering how little is truly known about Multiple Sclerosis, it was believed that CBD could also benefit MS patients. Over time, drugs including Sativex which is a cannabis oil consisting of primarily CBD and THC have been sporadically developed. Sativex is now widely prescribed around the world to MS patients who feel that their symptoms are not being effectively treated by traditional pharmaceuticals.
Clinical studies that have been conducted illustrate that patients receiving Sativex report a higher quality of life and a lower spasticity than they were experiencing prior to CBD oil treatment. The precise method of how CBD interacts with the appropriate mechanisms that cause MS remains unclear, more research needs to be undertaken to discover the exact manner of the interaction.
Cutting edge research at the University of South Carolina, studied the treatment of murine EAE using CBD oil to characterise previously unknown biochemical mechanisms that enables CBD to inhibit EAE symptoms which are very similar to MS.
The research project induced EAE in groups of female mice using the peptide MOG35-55 as an antigen. The mice were treated with either CBD oil or a controlled vehicle. The progression of the disease was tracked using clinical measurements associated with various symptom expressions. The scores were measured on a scale of 0-6. The average score for each group of mice was calculated daily and the scores for the mice who were treated with CBD and the control group treated mice were compared to assess the effectiveness of the CBD treatment.
The mice treated with the controlled vehicle developed EAE at a steady rate, with a maximum mean clinical score of 4.1 throughout the study. A clinical score of 4 in the study equates to a state of tetra-paralysis. The mice that were treated with CBD experienced a slower onset of symptoms and at their peak, the clinical score of the symptoms that was recorded was 2.2. The clinical score of 2.2 only indicates the only partial paralysis of the limbs.
This provides a confirmation that CBD treatment has a clear effect on EAE. The researchers conducted in vivo, and ex vivo tests to try to decipher exactly what biochemical mechanisms were responsible for the effectiveness of the CBD treatment.
It is understood that EAE in mice is triggered by TH1 and TH17 cells.
A survey carried out by the MS Society discovered that 20% of people who were diagnosed with MS had used Cannabis to help to ease their symptoms.
A study carried out in 2018 discovered that CBD improved the mobility in people with Multiple Sclerosis.
Can CBD Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms?
There is evidence that suggests that CBD could ease Multiple Sclerosis symptoms for some MS patients. The science behind these benefits is still being investigated. The available data indicates that cannabis product with approximately a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio used as an oral spray may reduce pain and muscle spasms in Multiple Sclerosis patients.
There is still a tremendous amount of research that needs to be carried out to determine whether over the counter CBD products such as CBD oils, CBD capsules, CBD patches and CBD vapes can provide MS sufferers with a symptom relief and to understand whether there is any prospective harm in using CBD.
The Need for Clinical Studies
An article that was published by the medical journal Frontiers in Neurology discussed whether CBD has the potential to provide positive pharmacological effects. This is because CBD is an anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, antioxidative and neuroprotective. The article also states that CBD is considered to be safe and it does not alter the user’s heart rate.
When it comes to Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis, only cannabis-based products that contain CBD & THC have been subjected to clinical studies. Only cannabis with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, some examples of a higher THC content have been undertaken too. These clinical studies have shown that cannabis can reduce muscle spasticity and pain in those who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.
There have yet to be any clinical studies that demonstrate whether cannabis oils containing solely CBD have any tangible benefits to those who have MS. All the studies that have taken place thus far have used different preparations that contain both THC and CBD or THC by itself.
What are the Side Effects of CBD?
CBD is well tolerated, but it can cause a few minor side effects. Possible side effects include dry mouth, diarrhoea, fatigue and reduced appetite. There are also a few medications that CBD can interact with, these include blood thinning drugs. For further information, please read our comprehensive breakdown of the side effects of CBD.
It is always advisable to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about trying CBD.
How can I take CBD?
CBD can be consumed in an array of different delivery methods. The bioavailability of the CBD varies between the different delivery methods and this can be a crucial factor when assessing the efficacy of a CBD product.
CBD tincture oils are the most commonly used CBD product. With a CBD tincture you simply place drops of the CBD oil underneath your tongue for around 30 seconds. The CBD is then absorbed into the bloodstream without having to pass through the digestive system. After using CBD oil, the user can expect to begin to feel the effects after 15-25 minutes.
Many MS patients elect to use CBD oil as the effects can be felt quickly and there is a tangible benefit.
CBD patches are an extremely effective way of consuming CBD. When using a CBD patch, you simply apply the CBD patch the top of your arm for a 24 hours period and the CBD is released gradually throughout the day. One of the excellent things about using a CBD patch is that it bypasses your liver, lungs and stomach which are all parts of the body that filter down cannabinoids. The resulting effect is enhanced, and CBD patches seem to be among the most effective CBD products on the market.
Topical CBD Products – Topical products can often be a very effective solution when it comes to managing joint pain and swelling. Notably, CBD muscle balm is a great option for combatting muscular and joint pain.
CBD capsules are a convenient and safe way of taking CBD. With capsules, you know exactly how much CBD you are taking, and this standardised dosing option means that many people choose to use CBD capsules over a CBD oil because it is easier to take.
CBD vape oil can also be a great way to consume CBD. With the absence of the negative effects of smoking tobacco, modern CBD vapes enable the user to take CBD in a manner that is convenient and enjoyable to use.
Medical Marijuana and Multiple Sclerosis
Even though some might say that medical marijuana hasn’t been studied enough for those with multiple sclerosis, the truth is different. There have been plenty of studies already conducted that show cannabis can very well be a great treatment option for those with this challenging disease.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective coating (myelin) surrounding nerve fibers. This causes a breakdown of communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
There are different multiple sclerosis symptoms that can affect people. It depends on several factors, including the severity of the damage caused to the nerves, which nerves are impacted, and so forth.
- Numbness of weakness in the arms and/or legs, usually affecting one side of the body at a time.
- Some people experience something like an electric shock sensation when moving their neck.
- Shaking or tremors.
- Vision problems, including double vision, loss of vision (usually in one eye at a time), blurred vision, etc.
- Slurred speech.
- A tingling sensation in specific parts of the body.
What causes multiple sclerosis?
Currently, there is no known cause of MS (multiple sclerosis). It is labeled as an autoimmune disease because the body’s immune system malfunctions. There are certain higher risk factors that contribute to an elevated risk of developing MS. These include:
- Age – MS typically manifests in adults between 20 and 40, though people older and younger can develop it.
- Gender – women are 2 to 3 times as likely as men to develop MS.
- Race – Caucasians of Northern European descent have a much higher risk of developing MS.
- Vitamin D – Low levels of Vitamin D can increase the risk of MS.
- Smoking – Those who smoke and experience a first ‘episode’ of MS are far more likely to experience a second ‘episode.’
- Some infections – Mononucleosis (commonly referred to as ‘mono’) can increase the risk of MS for some individuals.
How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
A doctor will perform a battery of tests and strategies to determine if an individual has MS. This will include an effort to rule out all other diagnoses (leaving only MS as the final reasonable condition).
How Does Medical Marijuana Help MS?
There are several treatment and management options for those with multiple sclerosis. Some include medications, DMTs (Disease Modifying Treatments), which are potent FDA approved drugs, physical rehabilitation, and mental health counseling. There is also medicinal marijuana for multiple sclerosis.
Medical marijuana and MS may be a more recent treatment option, but that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe or ineffective. In fact, when it comes to multiple sclerosis and marijuana, there is a growing wealth of research indicating that it can be a potent tool in the treatment of MS.
Marijuana and multiple sclerosis may not yet be joined in common conversations, but more doctors are realizing the inherent benefits cannabis for MS can offer.
The benefits of cannabis treatment for MS include:
Helps Bladder Problems
From constipation to incontinence and general abdominal pain, the right MS cannabis treatment has been shown to alleviate some of these symptoms for patients. From 30% to 60% of individuals reported relief from some or more of these types of symptoms.
When it comes to multiple sclerosis, cannabis is an anti-inflammatory, so it is an effective way to alleviate pain. Cannabinoid treatment for multiple sclerosis is also beneficial for pain relief because it offers analgesic qualities.
Marijuana for multiple sclerosis is a positive, too, because both THC and CBD (the main components of cannabis) are antispasmodic. This means it can help reduce muscle spasms and contractions in patients by up to 60 to 90 percent.
For those dealing with multiple sclerosis, medical marijuana can help those dealing with some level or form of depression or depressive symptoms. Cannabis can act as an antidepressant and nearly 50 percent of people diagnosed with MS reported a reduction in clinical depression when relying on medical marijuana for multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Best Strains for Multiple Sclerosis
As it pertains to medical marijuana and multiple sclerosis, not everyone will enjoy the same benefits. It depends on many factors, which is why it is so vital to consult a doctor before beginning any regimen or treatment.
Some medical marijuana strains for MS are simply more effective than others. Let’s discuss the best cannabis strain for multiple sclerosis.
Papaya – Mostly a pure Indica variety, sometimes Papaya will have Sativa qualities in it, too. This strain’s benefits last for about an hour and a half. With 20% THC content, people with MS reported mood changes quickly and a reduction in pain.
Sour Diesel – This is a Sativa strain that affects the brain as well as muscles, bringing relief where it’s needed most. Sour Diesel can help a person with MS sleep better through the night, though some patients have reported that this strain alleviates pain while also boosting their energy levels.
Harlequin A dominant hybrid strain, Harlequin may provide a psychological improvement without the typical fatigue that some may experience with other strains. It is Sativa-dominant and is intended to help keep productivity levels elevated.
What about CBD oil? – CBD oil does not contain the potent THC, but it is great as an anti-inflammatory. The best CBD oil for MS will depend on the individual, their specific needs and expectations, and what they and their doctor have determined through careful consultation.
Side Effects and Risks
For multiple sclerosis, cannabis can offer some great potential benefits, but there are some risks of side effects associated with it. These may include mental confusion, anxiety, paranoid episodes, nausea, vomiting, headache, an increase in appetite, balance and coordination challenges, elevated heart rate, dry eyes and dry mouth.
Is Medical Marijuana an Effective Treatment for MS?
Although it is still considered relatively new as a treatment for MS, it is effective for many people. It may not be optimal for everyone, though, which is why it is so vital to consult a doctor who has direct experience supporting MS patients with medical marijuana as a treatment.
How to Get a Medical Card for MS
If you have been diagnosed with MS, and cannabis is a treatment option you wish to explore, consult a qualified doctor. When your doctor and you agree that medical marijuana would be a viable and effective treatment at this stage in your life, he or she will be able to prescribe a medical card so you can purchase cannabis without any issues.