Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex neurological condition that varies in its manifestation, making diagnosis and treatment challenging. While no cure exists, some medications can slow its progression and alleviate symptoms. Recently, attention has turned to cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, as a potential relief for MS symptoms.
CBD stands out among the over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, distinct from THC, the psychoactive compound. Research indicates that CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, prompting some individuals with MS to explore its potential benefits. Today's discussion will explore MS symptoms, the autoimmune basis of the condition, and ongoing research on CBD's therapeutic potential for those living with MS.
Symptoms of MS
- Common symptoms include persistent fatigue, impaired vision such as blurred or double vision, or even partial to complete loss of vision.
- Sensory issues like numbness, tingling, and weakness, along with muscle stiffness and spasms (known as spasticity), are prevalent. Individuals may also experience challenges with balance, coordination, and walking.
- Neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain, bladder and bowel problems, cognitive issues such as difficulties with thinking, learning, and planning, mental health challenges, as well as speech and swallowing difficulties are among the diverse array of symptoms associated with MS.
- Additionally, sexual issues may also be encountered by those affected by this complex neurological condition.
MS Treatment Options
While a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS) remains elusive, various treatments aim to manage the condition and alleviate its symptoms:
- Steroid treatments are commonly employed to expedite recovery following a relapse; however, they do not prevent future relapses or impede the progression of the condition. Steroids are administered for a brief duration to mitigate potential side effects like osteoporosis, weight gain, and diabetes.
- Physiotherapy proves effective in improving muscle spasms and spasticity, but for more severe cases, medications such as baclofen, gabapentin, tizanidine, and diazepam may be prescribed. These medications, though beneficial, come with side effects like dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and weakness.
- In cases where conventional treatments fall short, patients may be offered a four-week trial of nabiximols.
How CBD Can Provide Support for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms?
CBD exerts its potential therapeutic effects by binding to receptors in the central nervous system, offering a means to alleviate inflammation and enhance the immune response of the brain. A 2014 survey by the MS Society indicated that one in five individuals with MS utilizes cannabis, including CBD, to alleviate symptoms like muscle spasticity and pain. A 2018 review further demonstrated that CBD effectively reduced fatigue, pain, inflammation, depression, and spasticity in individuals with MS, resulting in overall improved mobility. By influencing the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines and inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines, CBD, whose receptors are predominantly located in the central nervous system, emerges as a promising treatment for MS.
How CBD Affects the Body?
CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a regulatory system that sends signals throughout the body to control processes such as motor function, stress response, mood, and pain and inflammation processing. Chemically akin to endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body, CBD mimics their effects, showcasing anti-inflammatory and anxiety-reducing properties.
CBD for MS Symptoms
In MS, where the immune system erroneously attacks the myelin sheath of nerves, disrupting communication between the brain and body, CBD presents itself as a potential relief. Ongoing research suggests that individuals with MS are turning to cannabinoids for symptom relief, with an international survey identifying MS as a key condition for which products like Sativex (containing both CBD and THC) are used to address symptoms such as inflammation and pain.
- Inflammation: MS induces chronic inflammation in the central nervous system, contributing to symptoms like pain and fatigue. CBD's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may aid in reducing inflammation, potentially slowing disease progression by lowering neuroinflammation. Studies have shown that CBD, especially when combined with THC, can effectively reduce neuroinflammation.
- Pain: Approximately two-thirds of individuals with MS experience pain, which can manifest as headaches, neuropathic sensations, back pain, and muscle spasms. CBD has shown promise in addressing various types of MS-related pain, with some individuals reducing or eliminating opioid use when incorporating CBD.
- Muscle Spasticity: A common symptom of MS, muscle spasticity, can lead to reduced mobility as the disease progresses. CBD has demonstrated a significant impact on reducing spasticity and associated symptoms in individuals with MS, potentially improving weakness and fatigue and, in some cases, preserving mobility.
- Fatigue: MS-related fatigue, an overwhelming sense of tiredness, results from an overactive immune system causing inflammation. CBD's ability to decrease inflammation may contribute to alleviating fatigue in individuals with MS.
- Depression: Depression is more prevalent in individuals with MS, and CBD has been shown to have antidepressant effects. This may be attributed to its direct impact on the endocannabinoid system's mood regulation processes and its influence on pain and other symptoms, potentially leading to an improved mood.
How to Incorporate CBD for Managing MS Symptoms
Given the unique and varied symptoms experienced by individuals with MS, treatment plans differ, emphasizing the importance of consulting healthcare providers before integrating CBD into your routine. Healthcare professionals can assess potential interactions with existing medications or supplements. While many MS healthcare providers are knowledgeable about CBD, alternative sources such as local dispensaries in marijuana-legal states can offer information if your healthcare provider is not well-versed in CBD.
Over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products lack FDA regulation and guidelines for consumption are scarce in the United States. Initiate CBD use with lower doses, gradually adjusting until achieving the desired effect. Common nonprescription CBD doses, not specific to MS symptoms, often range around 200 milligrams per day or less, considered safe for durations up to 13 weeks.
CBD is available in various forms at Hempingus, including oils, creams, tinctures, capsules, gummies, and inhalable options. Epidiolex, a prescription-only CBD product regulated by the FDA, is approved for specific seizures. Choosing reputable CBD products is crucial due to the lack of FDA regulation. Risks include mislabelling, varying CBD content, and potential contaminants. Seek guidance from healthcare providers or reputable cannabis companies for quality sources.
Legal Considerations and Purchasing CBD
CBD is legal in the United States, but THC-containing cannabis products are federally illegal. Legal status, professional implications, personal goals, and product sourcing are vital considerations. Reputable dispensaries, guidance from healthcare providers, and certificates of analysis (COA) showcasing product composition assist in making informed CBD purchases.
CBD's impact on the endocannabinoid system provides relief for various MS symptoms, notably pain, fatigue, spasticity, inflammation, and depression. While benefits are evident, potential side effects and interactions necessitate caution and consultation with healthcare providers.