Muscle stiffness, pain, sleepless nights and even depression are some of the most common MS symptoms. Evidence backed up by scientists shows that CBD can help you manage all of those unpleasant and obstructive symptoms.
Because of its many therapeutic effects, people living with MS around the world are turning to CBD for help. After decades of anecdotal evidence, the research has finally caught up, and we’ve seen dozens of studies into CBD’s effects on multiple sclerosis.
MS affects millions of people worldwide and there is no cure yet. For people living with MS, life can be tough. Between painful attacks, fatigue, stress, and reduced mobility can become real threats. We’ve seen CBD come to the rescue for ailments as varied as autism and diabetes, but can CBD help people living with multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic illness involving the body’s central nervous system (CNS). There are over 2 million people with MS (PwMS) living in the world today. While researchers and scientists have studied MS almost as much as any other illness, there is still no cure.
MS is a demyelinating disease, where our immune system attacks the myelin, or protective layer, around each nerve fiber in our CNS. Damaged myelin leads to inflammation and a build-up of scar tissue or lesions. This makes it hard to send signals to and from the brain.
People with MS often suffer from a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, pain, and difficulty walking. Symptoms of MS can change throughout the day, month, or year. PwMS often experience relapses of disease activity followed by remissions.
To diagnose multiple sclerosis, doctors can use MRI scans, spinal taps, and blood tests to stimulate and look at the nerves.
Initial signs of MS can include numbness, a feeling similar to pins and needles in the arms, legs, and on one side of the face, loss of balance, and impaired vision.
The symptoms of MS can be highly varied but frequently include pain, muscle spasticity (where muscles stiffen or tighten), fatigue, inflammation, and depression. The symptoms can lead to reduced physical activity and reduced mobility, and often have detrimental impacts on the overall quality of life.
There are a few different types and stages of MS, including CIS (clinically isolated syndrome), SPSM (secondary progressive MS), and RRMS (relapsing-remitting MS). Around 85% of PwMS are diagnosed with RRMS. A person’s MS can evolve, changing from one type to another and back again over time.
Many PwMS live long, healthy lives while treating their illness. Many PwMS take medications and disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) to manage and slow their MS. There have been significant advances in the last few years in treatments, especially in alternative and complementary therapies like CBD for multiple sclerosis.
Cannabis sativa or the cannabis plant holds plenty of biologically active chemicals packed full of therapeutic benefits for numerous ailments and afflictions. People have been using the cannabis plant for millennia to help treat a whole raft of conditions from heart health to pain relief and insomnia.
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the dozens of cannabinoids. Along with THC, CBD is typically one of the most concentrated chemicals in the plant and holds some of the most promise due to its extensive therapeutic properties.
CBD and the surrounding industry have recently taken off due to its hugely beneficial pharmacological effects with very little or no risk.
CBD is a known:
- Anti-inflammatory: CBD reduces swelling
- Antioxidative: CBD prevents oxidative stress from free radicals
- Antiemetic: CBD reduces nausea
- Antipsychotic: CBD manages psychoses including paranoia
- Neuroprotective: CBD slows and prevents brain degeneration
Not only that, but CBD has a high safety profile. Heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, otherwise known as a body’s physiological parameters, are not altered, unlike with many pharmaceutical drugs.
Furthermore, psychomotor and psychological functions aren’t negatively affected. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, i.e., it doesn’t get you high, and it won’t make you fail a drug test.
Medical cannabis has been a common treatment for MS for years. Although exact figures are uncertain, somewhere between 20 and 60% of PwMS use cannabis for symptom treatment, from pain relief to a better night’s sleep.
Cannabis can help treat some of the worst symptoms of MS. It can also reduce usage of prescription drugs like pharmaceutical opioids, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants, many of which are addictive and have severe side effects.
Spasticity and muscle spasms
Conventional anti-spasticity treatments are known to have plenty of limitations in their effectiveness and tolerability, making CBD a perfect contender to help PwMS live better lives.
A systematic review from 2019 found that randomized controlled trials showed a reduction in the severity of spasticity and associated symptoms. Furthermore, the conclusion underlined the efficacy and safety of CBD in clinical practices, and suggested further testing.
Pain affects around two-thirds of PwMS. Types of neuropathic pain include headache, pain in the arms and legs, back pain, and painful spasms. Unsurprisingly, pain can greatly reduce a person’s quality of life.
Many traditional treatments for helping PwMS deal with and manage their pain are antidepressants, antiepileptic medications, anesthetics, and opioids. Unfortunately, these overly-relied on pharmaceutical drugs usually don’t solve the issue and often have severe side effects.
Numerous reviews agree that cannabis might have a positive effect on pain in MS. As CBD is a known analgesic, using it to manage neuropathic pain is a hugely promising area. A comprehensive review from 2018 found that cannabinoids inhibit the release of certain neurotransmitters, modulate postsynaptic neuron excitability, activate inhibitory pain pathways, and reduce neural inflammation, all leading to pain reduction.
MS attacks can cause the myelin sheath to become inflamed in small patches, which can disrupt the signals travelling down nerves. Reducing inflammation is one of the things that scientists know CBD is good at.
Numerous studies, including one from earlier this year, have been undertaken to understand exactly how CBD reduces inflammation. Not only does CBD’s chemistry and pharmacology help reduce inflammation, but so do its various molecular targets and receptors.
One of the hardest things for PwMs is the reduced mobility that can result from negative symptoms like pain, inflammation, and spasticity. By helping reduce those negative symptoms, CBD helps improve overall mobility in PwMS.
A study into mobility in MS and CBD from 2018 found that CBD supplementation can help reduce pain, spasticity, and ultimately improve mobility. The researchers concluded that, based on their promising evidence, further studies into the impact of CBD on mobility should be investigated.
Conventional treatment for MS, often called disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are designed to slow the disease and produce a lower relapse rate. There are self-injectable beta interferons, oral medications, intravenous infusion treatments, and corticosteroids.
Furthermore, opioids, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants are commonly prescribed for the side effects of MS, like pain, spasticity, anxiety, and panic disorders.
Nowadays, scientists, doctors, and researchers are beginning to understand the benefits of holistic, natural remedies for some of the world’s worst conditions and illnesses. Flexible approaches, regular exercise, and a well-balanced diet are quickly becoming popular prescriptions.
Natural remedies like CBD are also gaining more and more focus as we understand the huge range of benefits it contains. Unlike many pharmaceutical drugs, CBD has very few negative side effects and it isn’t addictive.
CBD comes in oral capsules, oral sprays, intranasal sprays, and oils called tinctures. CBD oil is by far the most common. CBD oil is CBD (extract, isolate,…) with a carrier oil. At Hempika, we use full spectrum CBD extract, diluted in cold-pressed hemp seed oil. But you can also find other products in our offer, like CBD paste, CBD isolate and many more.
CBD tinctures for MS can be applied under the tongue, ingested by adding it to food or drink, or applied topically to the skin. Compared to many MS meds, CBD is remarkably safe – high doses up to 1,500 mg per day have been shown to be well tolerated.
Like any new supplement or regime, we recommend starting low and slow with your CBD dose for multiple sclerosis. A 10mg dose is a good place to start. As you can increase your intake, monitor the effects. Increase dosage slowly over a period of time. High doses of CBD for MS don’t necessarily mean more effective as everybody’s bodies are different.
With the surge in popularity around CBD and CBD products, we’ve seen an increase in sketchy companies selling even sketchier products. Make sure whenever taking CBD to check out the quality control and history of each product to ensure consistency in strength, quality, and purity.
From reducing inflammation, spasticity, and pain, to increasing mobility, CBD is a potential powerhouse of a treatment for people living with MS. Whether it’s helping alleviate the symptoms or replacing or complementing a pharmaceutical drug, CBD has the potential to help millions of people around the world manage their MS and live better lives.
Author: B. W.