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Muscular Dystrophy & CBD

Updated on January 31, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Cannabidiol (CBD) medicine relieves muscular dystrophy symptoms to improve your quality of life. Find out how CBD works with your natural symptoms to help you feel better.

Muscular Dystrophy: An Overview

More than 30 disorders fall under the umbrella of muscular dystrophy (MD). All forms of MD cause weakness and deterioration in your skeletal muscles. They also have genetic causes and degenerative symptoms. MD disorders differ by muscles affected, age of onset and progression.

MD symptoms depend on the person and specific condition. An MD disorder can interfere with functions like:

  • Walking
  • Balance
  • Expressing emotions
  • Thinking
  • Breathing and swallowing
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Motor control

About two-thirds of people with MD have chronic pain resulting from their symptoms. Problems such as muscle spasms, stiff joints and pressure sores create pain and inflammation.

As a genetic disease, the types of MD have higher prevalence in specific populations. Many MD disorders have a higher chance of appearing in boys than girls. Oculopharyngeal MD is common in French-Canadian, Hispanic and French-Canadian ethnic groups due to their genetics.

The Endocannabinoid System and Muscular Dystrophy

Everyone has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) dedicated to creating and using cannabinoids. You may already know cannabinoids appear in the marijuana plant. But, did you know our bodies also have cannabinoids? The CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS attach to cannabinoids from plants (phytocannabinoids) and the body (endocannabinoids). When a cannabinoid activates one of theses receptors, they regulate our bodily functions.

The ECS maintains many of the systems and tissues impacted by MD. It manages pain signals and inflammation caused by spasticity and muscle spasms. Your CB1 receptors appear in your nervous system and brain and handle their functions, including cognition and sensation. They also have a part to play in immune function.

Your ECS releases endocannabinoids to protect damaged tissue. The receptors in brain cells and muscles emit anandamide when something hurts them. Anandamide manages pain and inflammation responses to help you feel less pain.

Using CBD to Boost the ECS

CBD has a unique role to play in the ECS. Instead of attaching to cannabinoid receptors, it helps your body retain anandamide. The fatty acid FAAH breaks down anandamide as part of normal ECS function. However, people experiencing symptoms like pain can benefit from higher levels of anandamide.

When you take CBD, it blocks FAAH, allowing you to use more anandamide for a longer time. Anandamide manages MD symptoms such as:

  • Pain: Anandamide reduces the pain you feel from spasticity, muscle spasms and injury. It controls the pain response to make you more comfortable.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation happens as an immune response meant to protect your tissue. Anandamide reduces inflammation by controlling the number of immune cells in the affected area.
  • Mood Symptoms: Increasing the anandamide in your brain improves your mood. CBD also attaches to your serotonin receptors for further relief.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: If you have high blood pressure as an MD symptom, CBD can help. It shows promise in lowering blood pressure to protect your heart and blood vessels.

CBD as a Supplement or Substitute for Painkillers and Corticosteroids

Patients with MD sometimes use opioids or corticosteroids to treat pain and inflammation. However, these medications have side effects like digestive problems, drowsiness, weight gain and bone weakness. Opioids also put the patient at risk of dependency or substance use disorders.

You can use CBD for pain relief and inflammation, reducing your need for these medications. Some patients find they can take cannabis medicine as a complete replacement. We recommend getting advice from a doctor before lowering your dose on your own.

Discovering the Right Medicine for Your Muscular Dystrophy

Patients under the MD umbrella have a wide range of needs to address. CBD medicine has multiple forms that suit some symptoms and situations better than others. You can find CBD oil, pills, tinctures, topical treatments and many more products. If you decide to buy over-the-counter CBD oil, we recommend researching the product and seller. Some types of CBD oil have minimal amounts of CBD and low effectiveness.

A cannabis-trained doctor can help you find the right choice for your condition. These medical professionals understand how cannabinoids like CBD work with the body. Our directory of certified doctors will assist you with finding a provider near you.

Learn More About Muscular Dystrophy

Learn more about Muscular Dystrophy and what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for Muscular Dystrophy’s symptoms.

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