Condition: Multiple Sclerosis
“Multiple Sclerosis is an undeniably destructive force. To various degrees, which change from patient to patient, the disease picks apart bodies, careers, and relationships, intent on scrambling the numberless pieces that make up the jigsaw puzzle that is each human being it touches. As the malady disrupts a patient's physical body, it also forces those afflicted with it to deconstruct themselves emotionally, spiritually, and philosophically as they adjust to the changes wrought by MS.”
- Marc Stecker, aka The Wheelchair Kamikaze
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease characterized by an immune-mediated process where an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. In MS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin (the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers), as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the specialized cells that make myelin. When myelin or nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed in MS, messages within the CNS are altered or stopped completely. Damage to specific areas of the CNS may produce a variety of neurological symptoms that will vary among people living with MS. The damaged areas develop scar tissue, which gives the disease its name – multiple areas of scarring or multiple sclerosis.
Currently, many people living with MS use CBD to manage a variety of symptoms. A web-based survey, hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, showed that 66% of people living with MS currently use cannabis for symptom treatment. Furthermore, a study from Canada found that approximately 50% of people living with MS would consider using cannabis if the legal status is clear and scientific evidence of efficacy was available.
Recent increases in the social acceptance of CBD will likely lead to increases in the number of people living with MS who choose to treat their symptoms with it. Anecdotal reports indicate that an increasing number of people living with MS use CBD as a supplement to improve their mobility, but CBD supplementation is a viable option for people living with MS to reduce fatigue, pain, spasticity, and ultimately improve mobility.
Furthermore, individuals living with MS are likely to deal with depression, in large part due to the nature of the pain and physically-limiting symptoms, but major depressive disorder can co-occur with MS. Individuals living with MS are twice as likely as those in the general population to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and as many as 50% of those with MS will show symptoms of depression or mood disorders. Addressing depression in MS isn’t about mood improvement alone, but is a key factor in working to improve impairment. The worse a person’s pain, the more likely they’ll deal with depressive symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
Vision problems -
People with MS develop vision problems either because their optic nerves become inflamed or because they have nerve damage in the pathways that control visual coordination and eye movement.
Numbness in the face, body, arms, or legs is another common symptom of MS, and it is often one of the earliest symptoms of the condition. The numbness can range from mild and barely noticeable to severe enough that it interferes with everyday activities, such as holding objects and walking.
About 80 percent of people with MS experience fatigue or unexplained exhaustion. Atype of fatigue that seems to be unique to MS is called lassitude. A person's fatigue may be lassitude if it:
- occurs daily
- worsens as the day goes on
- happens in the morning, even after a good sleep
- worsens with heat or humidity
- interferes with daily activity
- is unrelated to physical impairments or depression
Bladder problems -
MS can make it difficult for the bladder to hold urine and may reduce the amount that it can store, causing symptoms such as:
- more frequent or urgent urination
- hesitancy starting urination
- frequent overnight urination
- being unable to empty the bladder
- being unable to hold urine or having urine leaks
Bowel problems -
Many people with MS experience bowel problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, and loss of bowel control.
Acute MS pain seems to be due to problems with the nerves that help transmit sensations in the central nervous system. Research suggests that 55% of people living with MS experience clinically significant pain, while 48 percent live with chronic pain. Women with MS may be more likely than men to experience pain as a symptom of this condition.
Cognitive changes -
More than 50 percent of people with MS experience changes in cognition, which means that they may sometimes have trouble:
- processing new information
- learning and remembering new information
- organizing information and problemsolving
- focusing and maintaining attention
- properly perceiving the environment around them
- understanding and using language
- doing calculations
Clinical depression is one of the most common symptoms of MS. Depression is more common in people with MS than in people with other chronic health conditions. Clinical depression can also exacerbate other MS symptoms.
Muscle weakness -
Many people living with MS experience muscle weakness due to damage of the nerve fibers that help control muscles. People living with MS may also experience muscle weakness because a lack of use has led their muscles to become deconditioned over time. MS-related muscle weakness can affect any part of the body. It can be especially challenging for people living with MS to walk and stay mobile when muscle weakness affects their legs, ankles, and feet.
Muscle stiffness and spasms -
MS can cause spasticity, which is muscle stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms in the extremities, especially the legs.
Dizziness and vertigo -
Some people with MS experience dizziness and the sensation of being lightheaded, woozy, weak, or faint. Less commonly, they experience vertigo, which makes it feel as though a person or their surroundings are spinning. MS may cause vertigo by damaging the pathways that coordinate the spatial, visual, and sensory input that the brain needs to maintain balance in the body.
Sexual problems –
People with MS often experience sexual problems and may find it difficult to get aroused or have an orgasm. The disease can cause sexual problems by damaging nerves in the sexual response pathways that connect the brain and the sexual organs.
Emotional changes -
MS can cause emotional changes by damaging the nerve fibers in the brain. MS can cause a wide range of emotional symptoms and changes, including mood swings, periods of uncontrollable laughter or crying, irritability, grief, worry, fear, anxiety, distress, anger, or frustration. The condition is unpredictable, often has fluctuating symptoms, and can become disabling, all of which can be scary for someone.
Difficulty walking -
People living with MS can develop problems with gait, or how they walk.
Taking CBD for Multiple Sclerosis
CBD is known to exhibit both anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of cannabis and its derivate products to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurodegenerative diseases.’
CBD oil on its own can help prevent or slow the neuronal cell death that takes place due to the degenerative nature of MS. CBD also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, downgrading the damaging levels of inflammation that occur with MS. CBD oil has strong antidepressant effects.
Because CBD oil may be able to reduce and alleviate so many symptoms of MS — fatigue, pain, inflammation, depression, and spasticity — and those reductions often lead to improved mobility, it is reasonable to conclude that CBD can help MS patients with mobility. MS patients usually find full-spectrum CBD products to be most helpful for treating both spasticity and pain.