Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When you have multiple sclerosis (MS), your immune system mistakenly targets healthy cells in your nervous system. It damages myelin, or protective fatty substances surrounding nerve fibers. The harm caused to the myelin results in sclerosis, or scar tissue. Eventually, the damage can also go to the nerve fibers themselves, causing the symptoms we associate with this disorder.
As a progressive disorder, multiple sclerosis has symptoms that become more prominent over time. The issues a patient has depends on where the myelin damage happens. But, no matter how someone’s MS manifests, it eventually progresses to the point where the patient can’t complete daily living tasks. In some cases, an MS patient can lose the ability to talk or walk.
There are four types of MS: relapsing-remitting, primary progressive, secondary progressive and progressive relapsing. Most folks with MS have the relapsing-remitting kind, impacting 85% of MS patients overall. While this type involves episodes of relapse and remission, the other kinds have more consistent symptoms.
We’re still searching for the cure for multiple sclerosis, so we need to find all the treatments we can. While cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) can’t cure MS, they can make life much easier for people dealing with it.
If you’re new to the world of cannabis science, you might be surprised to find out that cannabinoids work as an important part of your body. We all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which uses cannabinoids to control basic functions. As part of the ECS, we make our own cannabinoids that bind to our CB1 and CB2 receptors. After this attachment, the receptors send signals to the rest of our bodies.
When your ECS doesn’t have the right balance, it can contribute to conditions like MS. And, even if it does have the right number of compounds, we can add more cannabinoids to it to make up for a deficit somewhere else. People with MS have an overactive immune system that medical professionals must suppress to reduce the disorder’s impact.
CB2 receptors tend to appear on cells related to your immune system. So, when you take in a cannabinoid that interacts with the CB2 receptor, your immune responses change. While CBD doesn’t directly activate the CB2 receptor like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does, it seems to have an immunosuppressive effect. By binding to non-cannabinoid receptors that control T-cells, CBD reduces the number of T-cells that attack your myelin.
This immune response also lowers inflammation in the areas that already have scar tissue. Since inflammation causes many of the symptoms associated with MS, CBD treatment reduces these issues. It can relieve spasms, weakness and problems with motor control. As a bonus, CBD also alleviates symptoms like insomnia and anxiety.
CBD medicine comes in a wide range of formulas. You can get a product that has only CBD in it. Or, if you live somewhere where you can legally medicate with THC, you can use something that supplements the CBD with THC. Since THC causes the psychoactive effects of marijuana, only taking CBD keeps your mind clear. But, you miss out on the health benefits that THC provides. To figure out what compounds would help you the most, consult your doctor or budtender.
There are numerous types of CBD medications — just as many as THC-based medicine. For example, some strains of marijuana bud have a high concentration of CBD and a low amount of THC. Or, if you prefer to take your medicine like a pharmaceutical medicine, you can get pills and tinctures. The sky’s the limit — but, look into your state’s laws regarding CBD before making a purchase. Some states don’t permit any form of CBD, even when it comes from industrial hemp.
So, what kind of medication should you choose? It depends on many factors, such as your personal preferences and medical needs. You might be a parent looking into CBD treatment for your child with MS. In that case, you could consider CBD oil, which you can add to their favorite snack. Or, if you want to find something for yourself, you could get a slow-release option like a patch or a faster-working medication like vaping supplies.
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we believe the key to finding a successful treatment plan starts off with education. That’s why we provide you with the resources you need to make the most informed decisions about your wellness plan. To learn more about CBD treatment for multiple sclerosis and other conditions, count on us to supply you with the resources you need.
Learn more about Multiple Sclerosis and what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for Multiple Sclerosis’s symptoms.