CBD and MS: Can Marijuana Treat Multiple Sclerosis?
As the many benefits of marijuana continue to be discovered across the country, more and more states are deciding to legalize the plant for both recreational and medicinal use. One of the disorders that is considered treatable by medical marijuana is Multiple Sclerosis (MS). With an estimated 400,000 people living with the condition across the country, this can be considered good news. Research is still in very preliminary stages due to marijuana’s status as an illicit drug that is federally illegal although many researchers have dove in to explore how the plant can be effective in treating those with this very painful condition. A look at CBD and MS reveals some revelatory benefits.
How MS Works
MS is a neurodegenerative autoimmune disorder in which the immune system starts to attack a fatty substance called myelin that is in the nerves. This ends up affecting the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord and the optic nerve. The attack on the neurons causes a buildup of scar tissue that prevents the nervous system from being able to communicate correctly with the rest of the body. The symptoms include muscle spasticity, pain, fatigue, blurred vision, cognitive dysfunction and balance problems. The pain involved can be so intense that it can also cause sleeplessness and depression.
The Utility of the Endocannabinoid System
Humans and animals have an endocannabinoid (EC) system in the body that works via CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors affect energy, memory, metabolism, balance and a lot more. The CB1 receptor is found in the brain and the CB2 is found in the immune system, although both have been found on the immune cells. THC and CBD are compounds in marijuana that have been known to mimic the natural chemicals produced in the body to activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors. By doing this, marijuana has the ability to actually produce new neurons and stimulate growth in the myelin sheath. The result is its ability to stop the progress of MS and heal the symptoms. An exploration of CBD and MS uncovers the very specific ways the compound can be helpful.
How CBD and MS Relate
The most significant effects that marijuana has on the body when it comes to CBD and MS is its anti-inflammatory properties. When immune cells are triggered, they release cytokines which are inflammatory proteins that can greatly increase the amount of inflammation there is in the brain. This destroys neurons and causes the MS symptoms to get a lot worse. The inflammation in the body is what also contributes to the pain experienced by sufferers of MS. Cannabinoids are powerful anti-inflammatories that can actually calm the immune system down into ceasing it’s attack on the neurons.
Inflammation can irritate the tissues so much that they start to deteriorate causing a lot of pain. The nerve cells also send out pain signals as they die. Marijuana’s ability to be a powerful painkiller is directly linked to its use as an anti-inflammatory. Both THC and CBD have been known to be very effective for treating all kinds of pain and chronic pain. In states where medical marijuana is legal, the need for opioids has significantly decreased due to the ability of marijuana to be an equally, if not more effective, painkiller without the health risks.
Cannabis for Muscle Tightness and Spasms
Another way it has the ability to control pain is through its ability to relieve muscle stiffness and spasms. About 20 percent of people with MS have severe muscle stiffness and spasticity. The result is a loss of muscular control, twitching in places where the nerve cells are damaged as a result of inflammation. These symptoms can be so severe as to prevent a person from getting through basic tasks in life. When looking at this aspect of CBD and MS, you can see the multiple ways that the symptoms can be treated; specifically, its anti-inflammatory nature is an obvious way and its antispasmodic effects are a less direct way that cannabis can treat muscle spasms, stiffness and even seizures.
Other Benefits of Reduced Inflammation
This aspect of cannabis is also able to assist with digestive issues, relaxing the digestive muscles, easing diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Cannabinoids ease gastrointestinal inflammation, helping with all kinds of digestive issues. THC is also known to be excellent for reducing nausea and stimulating the appetite. This ability to get all the juices flowing again is also excellent for kick starting the metabolism and getting your system functioning at its best. When it comes to CBD and MS on a digestive level, the ability to reduce inflammation is the key to a greater quality of life.
The inflammation created in the body by those suffering with MS has a very negative impact on the eyes, with many patients experiencing blurred vision and some even going blind temporarily. Inflammation on the optic nerve has the ability to degenerate the eyes over time. The anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities in marijuana are known to help with eyesight, retinal degeneration and glaucoma and, on top of this, it helps MS patients to protect their eyesight and their optic nerve. Once again looking at CBD and MS, the range of healing properties has the ability to have miraculous effects.
Marijuana as a Sleep Aid
All the symptoms of MS can lead to great difficulties with sleep. Pain, muscle stiffness, the feeling of the body being out of control and digestive disturbances are not at all conducive to a relaxed state of being. Marijuana has the ability to help people not only get to sleep but also to stay asleep and sleep in a much deeper way that allows the body to heal itself on a deeper level. This ability to help with sleep goes towards preventing further pain and inflammation to occur, giving the body a chance to heal.
Combating Related Depression
This helps with one of the biggest factors of all. The ability to cope with stress and combat depression. No amount of health feels good when we are in a depressed state and the depression experienced by those suffering from MS can be severe. Yet marijuana is known to alleviate both stress and depression, helping sufferers to keep a healthier attitude towards life while feeling better in general.
In all of these ways, cannabis has great medicinal value for those suffering from MS. Not only does it work to heal symptoms but it also protects against symptoms worsening and, in some ways, it may actually reverse some of the negative effects of MS.