Researchers recently reviewed several scientific studies and determined that marijuana extracts can help treat the spasticity and pain symptoms in those suffering from multiple sclerosis. The systematic review was presented at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers in Tennessee; it concluded that cannabinoids could have “modest effects in multiple sclerosis for pain or spasticity.”
Researchers looked at the following factors for marijuana’s use as a treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS): safety and effectiveness, pain, bladder function, disability and disability progression, spasticity, quality of life, tremor/ataxia, and adverse effects. Five of the reviews that researchers examined showed significant evidence for the benefits of cannabinoids on symptoms of spasticity and pain in MS.
Cannabis has long been known for its numerous pharmacological benefits. Marijuana is known for its anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, neuroprotective, antioxidative, and antipsychotic properties. Marijuana is legal for medical use to treat several designated conditions, including MS. Recently, 16 more states passed laws to allow people to use CBD for medical purposes.
In a recent peer-reviewed article, researchers found that using CBD may help those with MS reduce pain, fatigue, and spasticity. It’s even shown to eventually help improve mobility. The article went on to suggest that the number of those with MS using marijuana to treat symptoms will increase as the social acceptance grows and the stigma lessens.
According to a survey conducted by the National MS Society, 66% of those with MS currently use marijuana as a treatment for their symptoms. A study conducted by the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of Colorado found that more than half of respondents stated that they felt cannabis could benefit MS symptoms. 28% reported they personally used cannabis in the past year.
Carolyn Kaufman, an MS advocate who was diagnosed in 2009, said:
“I had severe excruciating pain from muscle spasms, but the muscles themselves aren’t to blame. It’s coming from damage on my spine, and the muscle relaxers and pain pills go right to the muscle itself. Cannabis reduces inflammation, slowing down the disease activity and calming your entire system. It truly saved my life when my doctor ran out of answers. My miracle plant.
The medications weren’t helping with the pain at all, just making me high so then I was high and in pain. The side effects of the medications were mostly psychological — a lot of depression, apathy, mood swings, and exhaustion. When the pain was severe, cannabis was my gift from the earth. It worked when nothing else would. After never smoking before, I used cannabis to come off of all of my symptom management medications.”
Without the social stigma surrounding marijuana usage, more people with MS may be open to trying the drug and experience the relief from their symptoms. Kaufman’s story doesn’t have to be so rare, especially with more and more states across the United States legalizing medical and even recreational use. This research can be life-changing and even lifesaving for those suffering from multiple sclerosis.