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Cannabis and MS: What does the latest research say?



CBD can help relax the body's muscle, which can help relieve the stiffness and spasms brought on by MS

In 2014, a survey by the MS Society found that one in five patients had used cannabis to help with their symptoms, including muscle spasms or stiffness (spasticity) and pain.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a range of symptoms including problems with sight, limb movement and balance. 

Although it can be mild for some people, the lifelong condition can cause serious disability and the life expectancy of those living with MS is slightly reduced.

In a lot of cases, it’s possible to treat the symptoms, but as recent studies show, increasing numbers of patients have been turning to cannabinoids to help with pain and discomfort.

MS spasticity

A main symptom of MS is muscle stiffness and spasms. CBD is known for its properties that aid the immune system, accelerate muscle recovery and help users to relax, but findings also suggest that those who have used cannabinoid products have seen a reduction in pain and improvements in spasticity and sleep. 

In the UK, the cannabis plant-derived oral extract drug, Sativex, has been approved for treatment in MS-related spasticity. 

Pain and discomfort

CBD is known to be an effective and natural muscle relaxant. Be helping to relieve the tension even just marginally, this can help to prevent various types of pain, including central neuropathic, which feels like pins and needles or burning, and pain from spasms. 

In the last year, more than 40 per cent of people who live with MS have admitted to using cannabis products to tackle chronic pain and sleep disturbances – both of which are two common symptoms of the disease.

Sleep disruption

Also known for relieving anxiety and stress by accelerating the production of Anandamide, using cannabidiol products can help mentally and physically relax someone suffering from MS so they can settle during the day and night. 

Trials have shown that taking an oral cannabis product before going to bed has helped those with MS to sleep and can stop them needing the toilet, but there isn’t convincing evidence to support using CBD to treat bladder problems. 

Reduced prescription drugs

CBD is known as an effective alternative to pharmacy products as it has results to help a range of conditions, including MS, autism, Parkinson’s, PTSD, ADHD, epilepsy and neurological disorders. 

Studies have found that a lot of sufferers have stopped or reduced their use of prescription medications such as Opioids and Benzodiazepines, as they’ve found cannabis to manage symptoms more effectively. 

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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