Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
The world of medical marijuana can feel overwhelming to patients new to the drug. While some patients understand marijuana from recreational use, plenty of patients have never even seen cannabis in person. One aspect of medical marijuana that newbies might not understand is how to choose the right strain for their condition.
When a patient has a condition like multiple sclerosis that causes pain, medical marijuana can be used as a treatment. The medications traditionally used for pain have dangers like addiction that aren’t worth the risk for some people. If a patient is new to medical marijuana, they need to find a strain cultivated to treat pain and their other MS symptoms for the best experience.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that damages the central nervous system. A healthy immune system can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue. When someone has MS, their immune system can’t make the distinction and attacks the fatty tissue, or myelin, surrounding the nervous system, exposing it to damage.
Since your central nervous system helps your brain communicate with your body, multiple sclerosis impacts coordination, sensation, cognitive function and issues in other areas of the body. It progresses over time, causing more problems the longer you have it.
One of the most common symptoms of MS is pain. The pain can come from nerve damage, muscle spasms, movement issues or emotional symptoms.
Doctors treat most severe pain with over-the-counter or prescription painkillers. If over-the-counter painkillers don’t have enough power to ease your pain, you may need prescription painkillers. Both kinds have risks, but prescription painkillers’ side effects can be much more dangerous.
Over-the-counter analgesics include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. They can work for patients with mild to moderate pain. However, they can also damage the liver, kidneys and stomach, especially when used more often than directed.
Prescription painkillers like narcotics and opioids work better for patients dealing with severe pain, but they can be harsher on the body. The primary concern most folks have with these painkillers is how addictive they are. They often serve as a gateway drug to other types of narcotics and opioids, as well.
To get the most out of your cannabis medicine, you should be able to distinguish between indica and sativa strains. You have thousands of strains to choose from, but they all fall into one of three categories with distinct results:
The right strain for you depends on the MS symptoms you have. First, you must consider where your pain comes from. Then, you should think about the other symptoms your MS causes.
Marijuana can treat more than one symptom at once, so you should take advantage of its versatility. Using marijuana as a multipurpose medicine reduces the clutter in your medicine cabinet and can save you money.
To figure out what strain you should use, consult with someone who knows about the medical benefits of marijuana. We recommend seeing a doctor experienced with medical marijuana. You can also ask the staff at the dispensary where you get your medicine.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Multiple Sclerosis, check out our resources: