Currently, it’s estimated that 2.3 million individuals around the world are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
In the United States alone, around 200 new cases are diagnosed on a weekly basis. Unlike other neurological conditions, MS more commonly affects young adults, making the lack of a cure even more frustrating. What if CBD could provide relief of the symptoms associated with MS?
Primarily impacting individuals between 20 and 50 years old, MS causes an abnormal response in the central nervous system ultimately causing problems with mobility, pain, and more. (1)
Interestingly, there are higher rates of MS the further an individual is from the equator; the occurrences of MS are higher in colder climates. People of Northern European descent have the highest risk of developing MS, no matter where they live. (2)
As of today, MS is not a curable disease which means sufferers must find the best strategy to modify the disease course and effectively manage pain. Because of CBD’s ability to reduce pain – even nerve pain – could it play a role in minimizing MS symptoms? Read on to learn more.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Symptoms of MS range from fatigue and weakness to depression and cognitive changes. Other symptoms include:
- Walking difficulties
- Numbness and tingling
- Muscle spasms
- Vision problems
- Bowel and bladder problems
- Emotional changes
- Facial pain
- Changes in speech
- …and more. (3)
Because of the complexity of the disease and lack of a cure, managing MS takes an extensive care team. Typically, a patient will have a team of doctors helping them manage and monitor the disease with medications, emotional support, treating spasms, rehabilitation, and more. (4)
Additionally, for the 2.3 million people suffering from MS, finding medication and treatment can be difficult and very costly – anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the severity – and challenging to live with on a daily basis. Until now.
Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is proving to be a frontrunner in the world of pain management for MS and beyond.
Containing more than 100 pharmacologically active compounds, cannabis holds tremendous therapeutic potential in managing pain, anxiety, inflammation, and more. And, unlike THC, another compound derived from cannabis, CBD won’t cause the feeling of being high or other psychoactive effects, which means it may be more ideal for many sufferers looking for a way to function at a higher level each day. (5)
Recent studies have shown an uptick in the number of MS patients searching for relief using CBD, with great success and a low price tag. The average user reports spending $25 per month when purchasing from a dispensary or other source. (6)
Why CBD For MS? It Starts With The Endocannabinoid System
Our body’s endocannabinoid system is a key player in regulating hormones, responding to stress, and maintaining balance throughout the body. At the core of this system are receptors – types CB1 and CB2 – which are essential to the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and peripheral organs. Research is showing that the benefits of CBD are, in part, due to the way the compound interacts with these CB1 and CB2 receptors. (7, 8)
CBD contains many biologically active chemicals including about 60 cannabinoids. Evidence shows that these chemicals have a number of beneficial pharmacological effects in bringing equilibrium to the body. Multiple studies have concluded that CBD may be useful in: (9, 10)
- Reducing pain
- Easing muscle stiffness and spasms
- Improving sleep
- Reducing bladder and bowel dysfunctions
- Improving walking, balance, and memory
- Anxiety relief
- Stress reduction
- Neuroprotective measures
- …and more.
How Can CBD Oil Help With MS?
CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory. Many of the symptoms of MS relate to inflammation and neurological effects due to damage to the central nervous system. As CBD targets the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it can also reduce inflammation throughout the body. (11)
In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is loaded with Omegas 3 and 6, making it a strong antioxidant. Omegas 3 and 6 are two fatty acids that essential to optimal brain health. They’re commonly associated with fish, legumes, and superfoods like avocados, and also prevalent in CBD oil.
What About CBD For The Actual Symptoms of MS?
CBD For Reducing Pain
For people who suffer from chronic pain, there is strong evidence that CBD can help.
Neuropathic pain is its own unique problem. Chronic, annoying, and excruciating, there is no cure or remedy. However, CBD targets the damaged or dysfunctional nerves and alleviates this pain, which many patients fail to find relief from using traditional medications. (12)
CBD For Improving Sleep
Often, poor sleep can cause anxiety, sickness, body pain, and more. CBD could be the answer for finding relief from many sleep disorders associated with MS. (13)
CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system and can allow for a more consistent sleep pattern when used regularly. It helps the body relax, ultimately allowing for better REM sleep – the deepest sleep that allows the body to rejuvenate.
CBD For Easing Muscle Spasms
CBD as a topical treatment or orally can reduce the muscle spasms that come with MS. The CBD compound targets the a3 glycine receptors in the body – receptors that control the way we react to pain. By targeting these receptors, the sensation of pain is reduced without the negative side effects that often come with traditional medicine. (14)
Depending on the MS symptoms that a user is trying to alleviate, some forms of CBD may be better than others. For example, a cream or topical treatment may be best for muscle spasms and other localized conditions. Alternatively, for movement restrictions or emotional changes, CBD in an oral form may be better.
Capsules give a consistent dosage since it is measured out per capsule. However, this form takes a while to provide relief.
Liquid oil is probably the most common and easiest way to consume CBD oil. After you leave it under your tongue and ingest it, the oil will pass through the digestive system.
Topical creams can be a great solution for muscle aches and spasms by providing relief directly to the area causing pain.
Are There Side Effects?
Short answer: no. CBD doesn’t have any major side effects which means that people can use it without becoming dependent.
For people who may not find relief with traditional medicine or may be looking to incorporate more holistic alternatives, CBD oil could be the solution.