Multiple Sclerosis

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. When the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the protective coating around nerve fibers in the CNS, it causes damaging inflammation. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, when myelin or nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed in MS, messages within the CNS are altered or stopped altogether. The damaged areas then develop scar tissue which may produce a range of neurological symptoms.

MS symptoms are unpredictable, varying from person to person and even changing or fluctuating over time. More common symptoms include numbness or tingling, fatigue, weakness, dizziness and vertigo, pain, depression, spasticity, bladder and bowel problems, and vision problems.

Using Medical Marijuana to Manage MS

Most people receive an MS diagnosis between the ages of 20 and 50, but you can develop the condition at any age. A recent National MS Society study estimates that nearly 1 million people in the US are living with MS.

While the next logical step in treating MS with medical cannabis is a large-scale clinical trial, preliminary findings have shown it to bring relief to those with MS who suffer from symptoms such as pain, sleep disturbances, inflammation, muscle spasms, abdominal issues, and depression or mood issues. In fact, the American Academy of Neurology acknowledges that medical marijuana can help treat certain symptoms of MS, including spasticity and its related symptoms, pain, and frequent urination.

In addition, a systematic review presented at the Consortium of MS Centers in Tennessee found sufficient evidence that cannabinoids may have “modest effects in multiple sclerosis for pain or spasticity.” Another clinical review reported, “Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence.”

The information provided should not be used as a substitution for physician knowledge. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal marijuana.

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