The Role of Cannabis in Treating Multiple Sclerosis

The role of cannabis in treating multiple sclerosis

MS is a long-term neurological disease that can affect your daily life and quality of life. It can cause a variety of symptoms and problems, including pain and spasticity.

Cannabis has been shown to have positive effects on some of these symptoms, especially when taken at the right dose and frequency. It can also reduce the number of relapses and slow down the progression of disability.

Symptoms

Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes many symptoms and affects everyone differently. Some people will only have mild symptoms, while others may experience significant changes that lead to disability. The symptoms are unpredictable and can last days, weeks, or months, and may come and go for years.

Early signs of MS include numbness and tingling in the arms, legs, or one side of your face. You may also have uneven balance or weak legs. Loss of bladder control is another symptom that happens in some people.

Fatigue is a common symptom, and it often occurs late in the day. You may feel tired and want to sleep all the time. It can make it hard to do your daily activities and keep up with your normal schedule.

Dizziness and vertigo are other common symptoms of MS. These can happen during an attack or when you’re feeling well. Your eyes may also get blurry or lose their ability to focus.

Your doctor can help you manage your symptoms and keep them from getting worse. You can learn how to eat healthier, exercise, and relax. You can also find ways to cope with stress, which can trigger your MS symptoms.

Some studies have shown that cannabis can reduce the number of autoimmune attacks in patients with MS. It can also encourage the remyelination of nerves that are damaged in the disease.

These results are intriguing and suggest that MS may be treatable with cannabinoids. However, more research is needed to confirm this.

There are several medically-approved cannabis derivatives that have been used to treat MS symptoms in various countries. These include Nabiximols, an oromucosal spray containing a 1:1 molecular ratio of THC and CBD. It has been used to treat pain, fatigue, spasticity, bladder urgency, and mobility difficulties in MS patients (5).

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Researchers found that users of medical cannabis tended to have more progressive types of MS, had higher disability levels and poorer quality of life than non-users. They were also less likely to be on a disease-modifying treatment, and reported that they had a greater disease burden than those who had never tried it.

Treatment

The treatment of MS is a complex process that involves a range of different therapies. These are designed to reduce the number of relapses, delay or stop MS getting worse and improve your symptoms.

A team of healthcare professionals will work with you to ensure that you have the best possible care and support. They will also help you to find out about the range of available treatments and how they can be used.

For example, a specialist MS nurse can work with you to assess your symptoms and suggest a course of treatments that are right for you. This may include physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and medication to manage your fatigue.

Medications can also help to ease your pain and reduce muscle spasms (stiffness) that can occur with MS. Medicines that can be used to treat these problems include baclofen, gabapentin and nabiximols (Sativex).

Many people with MS are prescribed steroid drugs for severe relapses and flare-ups of their symptoms. These medicines can be given over the counter or under the supervision of a doctor. However, they should only be used for short periods of time and you should not use them more than 3 times a year to reduce the risk of side effects.

If you have a relapse, it can be very difficult to know how to manage your symptoms, so it’s important to discuss this with your specialist MS nurse or GP as soon as possible. Your GP or nurse will be able to prescribe you a medication that can help you get through the relapse, such as steroids.

Alternatively, you might be offered a trial of an immunomodulating drug. These are usually injected into your bloodstream or put into an infusion. These medications work to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses and to prevent or delay brain changes in MRI scans.

You can also try using cannabis products, such as tinctures and oils. There is a small amount of evidence that they can help to control MS-related pain and spasticity.

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As with all new drugs, the safety and effectiveness of a cannabis-based product is still being evaluated by the FDA. The FDA will monitor and regulate the marketplace, taking action when needed, to protect consumers and the public health. It continues to support sound, scientifically-based research into the medicinal uses of drugs containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds and will continue to work with companies interested in bringing safe, effective, and quality products to market.

Safety

Medicinal cannabis can be effective in treating some of the most common symptoms of MS, such as spasticity and pain. Some studies have shown that it may help with other symptoms too, such as bladder dysfunction and sleep disturbance.

For example, a clinical trial has found that nabiximols, an oral cannabis extract (Sativex), might help with bladder problems and other related symptoms in people with MS. However, nabiximols is not yet available in the United States.

The safety of cannabis use for MS is largely unknown. Although many people with MS are interested in using medical cannabis, they are not currently using it because of concerns about social stigma or the potential for unwanted side effects.

Some patients with MS who have tried medicinal cannabis have found that it helps with the neuropathic pain of the disease, but there is less evidence to show that it works for other symptoms like fatigue and tremors.

A small number of people with MS have reported that they were able to improve their mobility when they took medicinal cannabis. These improvements were usually due to a reduction in muscle stiffness, which is a major symptom of MS.

Other research has shown that cannabis may help with other symptoms, such as gastrointestinal issues and depression. These other symptoms can also affect a person’s quality of life, and are often not addressed by approved medications.

For these reasons, medical professionals have recommended that people with MS who are considering using marijuana speak with their healthcare provider about its use. More than half of those in a survey conducted by the Canadian Registry of Multiple Sclerosis responded that they would be comfortable discussing their use of marijuana for symptom management with their physician. But nearly one-quarter said they had never used it and were concerned about the potential for unwanted side effects or social stigma.

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Side Effects

Medicinal cannabis can treat many symptoms of MS such as spasticity, pain, tremors, bladder dysfunction, and sleep disturbance. In addition, it may slow the progression of the disease and the accumulation of disability. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects in larger clinical trials and to understand the potential long-term side effects of cannabis use.

Among the most common side effects of cannabis are headaches and dizziness. These symptoms can be serious if they are severe enough to interfere with daily life, so it is important to speak with your doctor before you begin taking marijuana. You should also discuss any medications you are taking to ensure they do not interact with your cannabis regimen.

Spasticity is one of the most common symptoms of MS and can lead to difficulty walking or performing daily activities. Studies have found that up to 90% of people with MS experience muscle spasticity. Several treatments are available to help relieve this symptom, but they often have unwanted side effects.

A large study of 630 patients with MS and muscle spasticity from 33 UK centres examined the effect of orally administered D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an extract of the plant Cannabis sativa, or placebo for 15 weeks in a randomized design called the CAMS (Cannabinoids in Multiple Sclerosis) trial [57]. The main outcome measure was reduction in the Ashworth spasticity scale after 28 days of treatment.

This study showed that most patients experienced a small improvement in their spasticity following treatment. They reported reduced pain and sleep disturbances and felt their mobility had improved as well.

In addition, an oromucosal spray containing THC and CBD was found to reduce overactive bladder symptoms in patients with MS-resistant symptoms. These symptoms include urine frequency, urination urgency, and urinary incontinence.

Despite the positive results of these studies, more research is needed to determine how cannabis affects other aspects of MS such as tremor and ataxia. Because these symptoms are so common, there is a need for new treatments that can help reduce them.

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