There are many severe diseases out there that have a mild debut, only to advance gradually as time passes by and progressively damage the body. Multiple sclerosis is one of them, being a chronic condition that will continue to provoke damages on the nerve cells and spine. Thus, the result will be impaired mobility, states of severe fatigue, blurred vision, speech impairment, and other similar symptoms. In cases that are less severe, the patient may experience numbness in his or her limbs. But in severe cases, a patient suffering from multiple sclerosis can lose their eyesight and the ability to move completely, reaching paralysis.
There are very interesting studies on cannabinoids such as CBD and THC in the use or treatment of MS patients. Since the results of these studies look very promising, we took a closer look at them. Again and again we hear reports of people who have used cannabinoid oils like CBD oil but also oils rich in CBD and THC in the treatment of MS. In addition, the pharmaceutical industry is at the forefront of treating MS symptoms with cannabinoids. But we’ll discuss more on that in the following lines.
What triggers Multiple Sclerosis?
Just like in the case of other illnesses that affect the brain, it is not known for sure what triggers the disease or the exact causes behind this condition. What is known to the medical world is that multiple sclerosis will damage the nerves in the brain and create a series of physical problems.
The symptoms may not be noticeable at first, but they will become more severe as time passes by. It is worth mentioning that “sclerosis” means “scars”, as the illness affects the protective layer of the nerves, called myelin, leaving behind scars.
Such scars are the ones that provoke the unwanted and unpleasant symptoms of multiple sclerosis, as the myelin plays several important roles, such as making sure that the electrical impulses travel from one nerve to another in an effective and fast manner. But once the myelin is damaged, even if it is in just one spot, these electrical impulses will be transmitted with difficulty.
What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
Unfortunately, because multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, the illness will affect the entire body. In other words, the symptoms of this condition could appear in any part of the body, depending on the nerves that are affected by the illness.
It is worth mentioning that there are cases in which symptoms barely appear, so the patient will not notice anything until the more advanced stages of the illness.
What are the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
Anything from blurred vision and other visual disturbances, to weaknesses in the muscles, muscle spasms, balance problems, coordination issues, a sensation of numbness or tingling in the limbs, just like small needles puncturing the surface. Of course, the memory is affected as well, together with thinking processes
CBD & Studies on Cannabidiol for MS
For quite a while, CBD has shown both the scientific and medical world that it has an incredible potential. Concerning MS and finding a more effective treatment for the symptoms triggered by this condition, recent studies are showing that treatments with cannabidiol has the potential to help alleviate some unpleasant symptoms of MS such as muscle spasticity.
But, besides this, CBD also has the potential to improve the condition of an MS patient by reducing pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing muscular spasms. Still, according to some studies, CBD was used together with THC, another component extracted from the cannabis plant, which is more effective when it comes to easing physical pain.
However, because of THC’s presence in the mixture, the treatment is categorized as a narcotic. So, can’t just CBD be used for managing MS symptoms? Potentially yes, according to some studies, as it has the ability to protect the nerves against the damaging action of MS. More about the studies can be found in the following lines.
Pharmaceutical Cannabinoids for the management of MS Symptoms
Of course, the pharmaceutical industry has also become aware of the great medical potential of cannabinoids.
Or they have noticed the great change of consciousness of people regarding the effectiveness of cannabinoids and have seen the great interest behind it as their own opportunity.
In any case, there are now a few approved drugs in the Pharmaceutical industry based on synthetic cannabinoids.
One of these drugs, called Sativex, is an oral spray containing CBD and THC in a 1: 1 ratio.
This product has been officially approved as an adjunct in the treatment of neuropathic pain in MS. In addition, this product, based on cannabinoids, has been studied for the treatment of other symptoms of MS.
Five random trials of Sativex and placebo were performed. There were 5 random trials in 368 patients with different neurological conditions using Sativex and placebo. Whereby MS patients were also present.
In some trials, this CBD: THC product has been shown to significantly improve life quality of the patients by reducing symptoms such as neuropathic pain, spasm, and sleep disorders.
The most common side effects are drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness. But these are generally of mild or moderate intensity. In essence, these studies, have shown a very promising direction with respect to the use of cannabinoids and future research on multiple sclerosis.
Another Double-blind Study of Sativex on Spasms in MS
Spasms are a common symptom of MS and affect around 60% of MS patients. In this study, Sativex, the above mentioned pharmaceutical cannabinoid preparation, was compared with a placebo to reduce spasms in MS.
A 15-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in 337 patients with MS spasticity, for whom a conservative treatment has not shown sufficient effect.
It was found that Sativex had a significant reduction in treatment-resistant spasms in patients with advanced MS and severe spasms. And about 73% of those involved have noticed an improvement of up to 30% at least once in the first 4 weeks. In addition, the cannabinoid preparation was well tolerated.
CBD & the Inflammatory Process in MS
This study is about the strong anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, which we have mentioned several times and have also published an article about. The study also discusses other properties of CBD which provide long-lasting protection against the damaging effects of inflammation in MS.
The Non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD has potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant properties, but it is not yet clear how CBD can regulate the harmful effects of inflammation in certain diseases.
Using a viral model of multiple sclerosis (MS), CBD has been shown to mediate the transmutation of blood leukocytes by regulating the expression of the vascular cell adhesion molecule, the chemokines and the proinflammatory cytokine, and by attenuating the activation of microglia.
In addition, CBD administration at the time of viral infection exerts a long-lasting effect and relieves motor deficits in the chronic phase of the disease in conjunction with decreased microglial activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine production.
The so-called adenosine A2A receptors participate in some of the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD since the A2A antagonist partially blocks the protective effects of CBD in the initial stages of inflammation.
In summary, these results demonstrate the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD in this viral MS model, they also demonstrate the tremendous therapeutic potential of this cannabinoid for the treatment of pathologies with an inflammatory component.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are also sometimes based on immunosuppressant properties, since inflammation is an immune defense response. These immunosuppressant properties are not always conducive, but in MS it is precisely that attribute that could bring significant relief.
CBD in treatment of experimental MS
The purpose of this study was to determine if pure (isolated) CBD can counteract the development of experimental multiple sclerosis. Cannabinoids have been found to activate so-called pathways across multiple immune and non-immune cells, however, it is not yet known what impact CBD has on these pathways in treating MS.
For this, an experimental MS was induced in mice by a specific immunization. Once the disease developed in the mice, they were treated daily with a specific dose of CBD while the clinical signs of MS were monitored. After 28 days, the mice were sacrificed to perform the investigations on the tissue.
The result showed a marked reduction in induced MS. Treatment with CBD significantly improved the phosphorylation of these pathways. There was also an increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) level in the CBD-treated mice. In addition, the studies showed that the therapeutic efficacy of CBD treatment is due to the reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and up regulation of PPARγ.
Finally, it has also been found that CBD promotes neuronal survival by inhibiting certain kinases. The results of this study show an interesting discovery of the regulation of certain signaling pathways by the administration of CBD. Altogether, it could show a new potential therapeutic target for MS management.
The Potential of Cannabinoids in MS treatment
What people have to keep in mind is that CBD oil comes from the cannabis plant. Either from hemp with low THC, less than 0.3% or a cannabis strain with a higher amount of THC. Thus, a CBD oil made from a variety with low THC content will provide little or no psychoactive effects. Hemp and some CBD-rich medicinal cannabis strains can be helpful in treating symptoms such as muscle spasms and pain, which are so common in MS patients.
This potential has been demonstrated not only by a number of studies, but also by people who have used it. Many MS patients wanted to try something different, something safer than their regular treatments, so they decided to experiment and see what cannabinoid oils such as CBD/THC oils could provide.
As researchers found out, CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which are extremely helpful in the case of multiple sclerosis, as the demyelization process of the nerves leads to inflammation. How CBD does this, it is not known just yet, but the results are more than promising. And all of this is happening without the patient to feel any psychoactive effects from this compound.
The researchers just figured out how this process works partially, noting that the inflammation caused by the viral model of multiple sclerosis was actually much lower. This meant less pain for the patients and improved mobility.
In other words, CBD potentially has what it takes to give MS patients the chance to enjoy a more comfortable life by carrying out their daily activities as they please and sleeping better at night. Furthermore, overdosing with CBD is almost impossible to achieve, and the risks of side effects are almost nonexistent.
But you need to be careful about the quality of the CBD oil you are about to purchase. Unfortunately, the market is not yet properly regulated and while there are more than enough products containing CBD out there, from capsules to sprays, tinctures, and many more, a thorough quality check is utterly required.
The idea is to get a pure product that contains the right amount of CBD and not any other harmful chemicals if you really want to tap into the benefits of this natural treatment. So, learn to choose your CBD product with a lot of caution.