Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Symptoms of MS vary in range from a single symptom to multiple symptoms and mild in intensity to severe. Symptoms can include pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness or spasms, tremors, inflammation, depression, loss of muscle coordination or bladder control.
MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the protective covering called myelin, that insulate nerve fibers. This myelin sheath enables the brain to communicate with the rest of the body by allowing electrical impulses to travel along the nerve fibers quickly and efficiently. When myelin is damaged, electrical impulses or communication from the brain to the body is slowed or blocked causing MS symptoms.
Much of the data or research collected on the effects of medical marijuana on MS symptoms come from patient surveys, self-reported assessments and observational studies. Two active compounds found in medical marijuana that have been studied in the management of MS include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). According to a study published in American Academy of Neurology among patients from the University of Rochester MS Center, results found majority of subjects found medical marijuana helpful in managing symptoms such as spasticity and pain. The study also reported more than half the subjects felt their quality of life improved with the use of medical marijuana. Another promising study published in 2016 in European Neurology studied patients with treatment-resistant MS spasticity. Real-life data from the study confirmed that adding THC:CBD oromucosal spray was an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for those patients.
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