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Multiple Sclerosis & Cannabis: Is It Safe?

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Canada is known for many things – hockey fanaticism, maple syrup, incredible natural landscapes, and a higher-than average propensity for good manners. Something you might not have known that Canada is famous for is a very high percentage of the population suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Although Canada does not sport a very high population in relation to others, there are over 100,000 Canadians who suffer from the symptoms of MS which is equivalent to 1 in every 400 Canadians.

Why is multiple sclerosis so prevalent in Canada? Research suggests it may have something to do with living north of the equator, but in terms of having a definitive answer there is still a lot of mystery surrounding what causes MS (multiple sclerosis). We may not know what causes MS (multiple sclerosis) to be so common in the Great White North, but we do know what can help to treat its symptoms. What else is Canada known for? Cannabis.

Do you know what causes MS (multiple sclerosis) in your friends & family? What are the symptoms of MS? What is the relationship between multiple sclerosis and cannabis? Can edibles for MS treatment really work? Let’s peer into the possibilities of using cannabinoids to cope with multiple sclerosis.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that causes a person’s immune system to target their brain and nervous system. This bizarre case of mistaken identity has been thoroughly researched but no direct causations have been discovered as of yet. Genetics, environmental factors, nutrition, health and fitness can certainly impact a person’s susceptibility to MS or other diseases, but these are general assumptions about what causes MS (multiple sclerosis).

MS symptoms can range greatly, especially when you consider the age ranges of people who suffer from this disease. On average, people who have multiple sclerosis will exhibit the following symptoms: Fatigue, lethargy, low energy

Impaired vision

Lack of mobility, stiffness in muscles & joints

Cognitive difficulties

Pain, inflammation

Numbness, tingling in extremities, muscle spasms

Bladder, bowel and sexual organ issues

Depression, anxiety, nervousness

This is quite the list of debilitating conditions, so it’s no wonder that many Canadians suffering from MS turn to cannabis to soothe some of these symptoms. Cannabis is known to influence many of these similar symptoms like pain, inflammation, stiffness, spasms, and feelings of depression or anxiety. Utilizing cannabinoids for multiple sclerosis seems to have a lot of potential benefits at face value, but what is the research showing? How do multiple sclerosis and cannabis mix? Is it possible for cannabis edibles for MS to improve a patient’s condition? What are the short- and long-term effects of cannabinoids like THC or CBD on multiple sclerosis?

In the next section we’ll interpret some of the potential positive interactions between multiple sclerosis patients and cannabis treatments.

How Do Cannabinoids Affect Multiple Sclerosis?

Cannabis’ effects on human health have to do with the active compounds within this plant in all its varieties. Cannabinoids, as they’re called, refer to these phytocompounds like THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), CBN (Cannabinol) and hundreds of others. Furthermore, terpenes have been identified as having additional effects on the efficacy of a certain cannabis strain/cultivar. Unfortunately the research into terpenes is underway, but this means that what is known currently centers around cannabinoids’ effects on multiple sclerosis.

Cannabinoids interact with your biochemistry through activation of certain receptors found throughout your brain & body. The receptors found within your endocannabinoid system, such as CB1 and CB2 which are largely responsible for many of cannabis’ influences on human health, can lead to profound changes in your wellbeing.

For example, THC is known to be psychoactive (mind altering, causes a “high” feeling) but despite its hallucinatory effects it can greatly diminish feelings of pain, bad moods or fatigue. On the flip side, CBD is non-psychoactive and seemingly accomplishes many of the same positive effects such as better sleep, less anxiety, reduced pain & inflammation and much more.

Most of the current research data has focused on the effects of a limited number of cannabinoids on multiple sclerosis (i.e. THC and CBD). This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other positive effects with other cannabinoids for multiple sclerosis, but the research needs to be conducted to determine whether CBN, CBG, THCV or others can directly impact the symptoms of MS.

What is known about the potential benefits between multiple sclerosis and cannabis? Here is a summary of the findings from some of the leading research:

Multiple Sclerosis Spasticity and Cannabis

Spasticity broadly refers to spasms, stiffness and some of the associative pain with MS. Tonic spastic episodes (stiffness) or intermittent spasticity (spasms) occur in the vast majority of MS patients. These kinds of symptoms have become synonymous with people suffering from multiple sclerosis, so naturally it is one of the primary symptoms that cannabis treatment was sought after to treat.

Spastic issues make mobility painful or difficult, but it can also cause issues with resting or sitting down. Multiple sclerosis and cannabis treatment seem to focus on these symptoms of spasticity as the largest cannabinoids/multiple sclerosis study to date is aimed at these particular symptoms. Although the research conducted by the UK MS Research Group is not yet concluded, some of the results of the study show some promise for multiple sclerosis spasticity and cannabis treatment.

Over the 15 week period of the study, a ratio of 2-to-1 THC-CBD was administered to MS patients, in addition to randomized placebos. Although the cannabis treatments did not seem to deter the onsets of MS-related spastic episodes, it did show promise in reducing the severity of the spasms or frequency of the stiffening of muscles and joints. In summary, cannabinoids like THC and CBD can ease the symptoms of pain, stiffness, swelling and spasms in people suffering from MS if taken regularly, in controlled doses.

Multiple Sclerosis Pain and Cannabis

Another very prominent symptom of multiple sclerosis also fits within the well-known treatments for cannabis: pain. MS-related pain affects the majority of people with this disease, often flaring up in bouts of nerve pain, muscle soreness, joint pain and other musculoskeletal & neuropathic forms of pain.

The higher levels of pain experienced by MS patients meant that some of the lower dose cannabis products like smoking cannabis flowers or ingesting edibles for MS did not yield prominent enough pain relief. This led researchers to include high potency cannabis extracts and concentrates. These kinds of high-THC or high-CBD cannabis oils, salves, liquids, powders and capsules have demonstrated their abilities to provide significant relief from pain, inflammation, insomnia, nausea and anxiety.

People suffering from cancer, epilepsy, arthritis and depression have turned to cannabis for its ability to ease pain and reduce swelling. Anyone suffering with multiple sclerosis can expect these kinds of high-potency cannabinoids products to provide relief from their persistent pain – not to mention less anxiety and better sleep.

Multiple Sclerosis Anxiety and Cannabis

It can be near impossible to sleep properly, rest or find peace during the day/night if you’re suffering from frequent spasms, sharp pains and loss of bodily functions because of MS. These kinds of persistent symptoms can be all-consuming and lead to severe cases of depression, anxiety and insomnia. This is where cannabis can provide some much needed relief from fatigue, nervousness and help anyone with MS to achieve true rest & relaxation that they desperately deserve.

Consuming higher doses of full-spectrum cannabis products (i.e. contains all the resident cannabinoids from the plant) has shown some promise for people suffering from chronic pain, inflammation, sleep deprivation and gastrointestinal conditions. THC and CBD in particular have tested well with treating anxiety, depression and insomnia, but there is a major effort to explore the properties of CBN and CBG on our neurological health as well.

The main takeaway for multiple sclerosis and cannabis treatments for anxiety, depression and sleep is that cannabis is great at easing nerves and supporting positive sleep behaviors. Cannabis can reduce pain & inflammation, which in turn allows someone with MS to relax or get some rest. Cannabis can also stimulate appetite or ease nausea, so if someone with MS is struggling to eat properly then a dose of THC or CBD might point them in the right direction.

The Best Strains of Weed for Multiple Sclerosis

There is no “best strain of weed for multiple sclerosis”, but there are certain cannabis products that can provide more benefits than others. High potency edibles for MS are a favorite because they provide nutrition in the short-term in addition to long-term relief from the symptoms of multiple sclerosis as they’re digested/absorbed. Edibles for MS can be tricky, however, because they don’t always settle in and take effect consistently.

Smoking certain cannabinoids for multiple sclerosis, such as high volumes of THC or CBD, can provide relief from symptoms like pain, inflammation, anxiety or nausea. Nonetheless, smoking or vaping anything has its own risks – not to mention the fact that inhalation of cannabinoids often lasts the least amount of time when compared to edibles for MS, concentrates or extracts.

Cannabis concentrates and extracts appear to be the best choices for many serious health conditions. Cannabis oils, capsules, powders, topicals or other high-potency forms of cannabinoids & terpenes deliver the most relief, the fastest relief, and the most consistent positive effects.

You might’ve heard some cannabis horror stories of people taking edibles and then hours later being suddenly stricken with overwhelming psychoactivity. There are also risks associated with smoking or vaping cannabis that are more obvious – potential damage to respiratory system and the deterioration of your oral health. Another important warning about cannabis has to do with concentrates and extracts and the potential for “greening out”. High-potency cannabis products can achieve the greatest results, but they can also cause the most significant negative impacts such as getting incredibly high, incredibly fast for an unbearable amount of time.

Everybody’s tolerance to cannabis is unique to one another. This means that every time you turn to cannabis for health reasons you need to dose low, take it slowly and up your dose as it fits your mind & body’s reactions. This “golden rule” can prevent some very negative experiences with cannabis and if you adhere to the “start low, go slow” method then you’ll be able to control your cannabis experience and foster confidence in its benefits.

If you’re suffering from MS and you’re seeking the best strain of weed for multiple sclerosis, talk to your health practitioner and see if they have any particular products available for you to try. Always do your research and approach new treatments carefully, and remember that one person’s success story doesn’t always translate to success for you. We wish you, your loved ones or colleagues suffering from MS the best and we hope that cannabis can help you & yours to live healthy, happy and long lives.

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