What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, in which the body’s immune cells enter the central nervous system (CNS) to attack the myelin coating around nerve fibers. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis).
Damage to the myelin sheath or nerve fiber distorts or interrupts nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord, producing a variety of symptoms.
No one knows what triggers immune cells to attack the central nervous system. Scientists believe it is a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and the disease is two to three times more common in women than in men.
What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?
Specific symptoms of MS are different for every person. Some people experience only two, while others suffer from a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms of MS are:
- Blurred vision, poor contrast or color vision, pain on eye movement
- Numbness/tingling in the face, body or extremities (arms and legs)
- Difficulty walking
- Spasticity, feelings of stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms
- Bladder dysfunction
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Sexual problems
- Constipation, loss of control of the bowels.
- Changes in the ability to process incoming information, learn and remember new information, organize and problem-solve, focus attention, and accurately perceive the environment
- Emotional changes and clinical depression
How can you use medical marijuana for MS symptoms?
Medical marijuana can alleviate many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and some scientists believe it might inhibit the progress of the disease.
Cannabis has been demonstrated to reduce the frequency and severity of muscle spasms. Medical marijuana helps ease muscle spasms and reduces stiffness, allowing more freedom of movement and calming the frequent urge to urinate.
Cannabis acts as an analgesic, relieving pain and inflammation without the dangerous and unpleasant side effects of opium-based painkillers. It also helps to overcome sleep disturbances due to pain and muscle spasms.
Cannabinoids help to regulate bowel dysfunction, possibly by interacting with CB2 receptors on the peripheral nervous system that controls gut function.
Medical marijuana has a positive effect on mood and emotional distress.
Scientific studies indicate that cannabinoids suppress the activity of immune cells attacking the central nervous system of MS sufferers, and reduce inflammation.
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Scientific Studies of Medical Marijuana for MS
Randomized, controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in central pain in multiple sclerosis, David J. Rog, BMBS, Turo J. Nurmikko, PhD, Tim Friede, PhD and Carolyn A. Young, MD