CBD for Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a complicated nervous system disease that affects nearly 1 million people in America. The disease occurs when the myelin sheath—the protective layer surrounding nerve cells—is damaged. This sends mixed signals that make it difficult for the body and brain to communicate with one another.
MS can be a frustrating disease, because those affected don’t always have complete agency over their bodies or freedom of movement. The condition can be quite mild for some individuals, while others lose the ability to stand, speak, write, or walk. MS is not fatal, though, so many people live a long life full of vivid memories, despite the disease’s challenges.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
As the disease progresses, individual MS symptoms may vary from person to person. Generally, these include:
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Loss of coordination
- Trouble walking or an unsteady gait
- Impairment or loss of vision
- Electric shock-type sensations in the neck
- Extreme fatigue
- Double vision
- Problems with bladder or sexual function
Multiple Sclerosis Types
Prior to an MS diagnosis, one might be diagnosed with Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), a neurological episode where the nerves shed their myelin sheath for at least 24 hours. Not all cases of CIS lead to MS. There are a few known variances of MS, including:
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RMSS). This disease pattern has periods of relapse—where symptoms are fully expressed—and periods of remission—where symptoms are mostly or fully dormant. During relapse, the disease can become active (where new symptoms develop) or worsen. This type makes up 85% of initial MS diagnoses.
Secondary progressive MS (SPMS). This type of MS also follows a relapse-remit pattern, but is characterized by a prominent weakening or worsening over time.
Primary progressive MS (PPMS). In more severe cases, symptoms worsen from the moment they start and the body declines at a quicker rate. Though its appearance is rare, this type of disease pattern does not have any relapse or remission at the onset.
There are no known causes of MS. However, scientists have identified several contributing factors, including:
Family history of the disease. Those with immediate family members who have MS are considered at higher risk of developing the disease.
Age. MS is primarily diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 55, and diagnoses later in life are often more severe.
Geography. Those in moderate climates—including the United States—are more likely to have MS. It is also thought that when certain ethnic and cultural groups migrate to different climates, the risk can increase.
Sex. Studies have counted that women are as much as three to four times more likely to develop MS than men.
Autoimmune diseases. Those with diabetes, an inflammatory bowel disease, or thyroid disease have a higher risk of MS.
MS has no cure, but there are many medical options to calm neurological episodes and slow the progression of the disease, such as:
Corticosteroids. These prescriptions help reduce inflammation of the nerves that exacerbates symptoms.
Beta interferons. These are injected into the body to decrease relapses in the relapse-remit pattern. There is the potential for liver damage, so patients should take these with caution.
Glatiramer acetate. This injectable medication prevents the body’s autoimmune response and prevent attacks on the myelin.
Anti-relapse oral medications. A series of medications are available to reduce the amount of relapses over the course of someone’s disease. Specific medications include fingolimod, dimethyl fumarate, teriflunomide, and siponimod.
Ocrelizumab. This is the first FDA-approved infusion treatment for relapse-remitting and primary-progressive forms of MS. It helps boost antibodies and prevent an autoimmune response.
Other treatments are available to help target specific symptoms of the disease.
Anti-fatigue medicines. To combat the muscle fatigue that comes with MS, individuals can talk to their doctor about either medications designed to treat fatigue, or antidepressants.
Muscle relaxers. MS patients may have stiffness or uncontrollable muscle spasms that can interfere with recovery and day to day life. Muscle relaxers help temporarily calm these spasms.
Physical therapy. Many individuals with MS are recommended a physical therapy routine to increase mobility, strengthen weak areas of the body, and come up with alternative ways to perform everyday tasks.
CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in the cannabis plant, is anti-inflammatory and devoid of the psychoactive properties found in the other main cannabinoid, THC. Because it doesn’t cause a high, many people find this to be an effective supplement to help manage pain.
As with and disease, consult a medical professional with any questions about a diagnosis or for treatment options.