A study undertaken in 2016 in Canada–a country with the highest incidence of MS worldwide–shows that, for the most part, Canadians with MS are, at the very least, open to the idea of cannabidiols. With 54.3% of participants approving of cannabis use, 33.2% remaining neutral, 19.5% of participants using cannabis, and 50.2% of the remaining participants saying they would use it if it were legal (this was before Canada’s nationwide legalization), it looks like cannabinoids could be a good solution.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system. It inflames and damages the protective sheaths around the nerves, disrupting the signals transmitted by them. People with multiple sclerosis, or MS, often experience symptoms such as pain; fatigue; loss of coordination; vision loss; tremors; bladder issues; insomnia; mood swings and depression; and muscular cramping, weakness, stiffness, and spasms. It is no wonder that many are looking to cannabinoids as an alternative to managing this degenerative disease.
And there are many positive findings from the studies that have been conducted thus far. Canadians with MS are reportedly using cannabinoids to address sleep issues, pain, anxiety, and spasticity (the constant contraction of muscles affecting movement and speech among other things). Users reported lower levels of neurological dysfunction, more regulated moods, positive effects on memory and fatigue, and even a reduction in their usage of prescription medications. On the flip side, the study also found that usage might negatively affect a person’s balance.
In an interview with The GrowthOp, a Canadian website dedicated to cannabinoid research and information, Dr. Michael Verbora of Aleafia Health, Inc stated, “There is good science to show cannabis is effective in controlling pain and spasticity in MS patients. It may also offer slight improvements in functioning or mobility, and because many patients experience depression and anxiety, cannabis can help with mood.” Aleafia Health Inc operates a network of medical clinics and cannabis facilities across Canada.
A study conducted by scientists Ran Abuhasira, Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, Raphael Mechoulam, and Victor Novack researching safety and efficacy for the elderly use of cannabinoids concludes similarly that a staggering 93.7% of subjects reported an improvement in their condition as well as less pain. A small but still noteworthy percentage were able to either stop altogether or at least decrease their opioid analgesics. “Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in the elderly population. Cannabis use may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.”
And another study conducted by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes that there is substantial evidence to show correlation between cannabinoid usage and the improvement of spasticity in MS patients.
What all of these studies have in common though, is that there is a need for more research. The legalization of cannabinoids all over the world will lead to further studies.
Dr. Verbora points out that while cannabinoid usage can alter and alleviate symptoms, nothing has yet shown complete evidence in reducing MS flare-ups or to reverse the disease’s progression.
There are more strains and there is plenty more research to be done. One can remain hopeful that this is only the beginning for those looking for relief from the multitude of symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis and other neurological issues.