Multiple sclerosis is a progressive illness, things weren’t getting better for Couch. So one day after work a friend offered him a drag off a joint. He was reluctant until his dad said, “What do you have to lose?” The cannabis helped immediately. It didn’t fix everything at one time, but as he recalls, “I felt like a huge weight had been lifted.”
A significant amount of evidence suggests THC and CBD-based medications can be used for treating muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, but most studies have focused on synthetic derivatives. Few have examined whole-plant cannabis or many of the other MS associated symptoms. Nonetheless, cannabis seems to help the following symptoms:
- Pain and sleep disturbances: According to a 2005 ”gold-standard” trial of whole-plant cannabis-based extract (oromucosal spray containing 1:1 THC:CBD), cannabis-based medication was twice as effective as placebo to treat pain, and three times more effective for sleep.
- Inflammatory-related issues: Neural tissue inflammation is common as the body’s immune cells attack the central nervous system. The (well established) anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis can help MS sufferers.
- Muscle spasms: A 2014 systematic review provided high-quality evidence that cannabis-based medicines were highly effective in treating muscle spasms.
- Abdominal complaints: Many scientists believe cannabinoids help control gut response and modulate gastrointestinal issues. According to a surveyconducted by Scottish researcher Roger Pertwee, 51-60% of respondents reported a decrease in defecation urgency, a 44% decrease in incontinence, and 30% had less constipation.
- Mood issues: Most MS patients will experience depression or at least persistent mood issues. Pertwee’s survey found that more than 90% of the MS sufferers reported botanical cannabis as improving mood.