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Multiple Sclerosis and Medical Marijuana

Inflammation is a major symptom that Multiple Sclerosis patients experience. When immune cells activate, they release inflammatory proteins called cytokines that cause rampant inflammation in the brain. This results in the destruction of neurons, and progressively worsening symptoms. The active components in cannabis, cannabinoids, are potent anti-inflammatories. Compounds like psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD deactivate the immune system, halting the attack on the central nervous system.

Prevalence of MS

The leading effects of prolonged nerve damage in MS cause permanent disabilities. This damage has yet to be effectively treated. While initial damage occurs with inflammation, cannabis and cannabinoids have been shown to have neuroprotective effects during immune attacks on the central nervous system.

An estimated 350,000 people in the United States are living with MS, a disabling and sometimes fatal disorder of the central nervous system. Because physicians are not required to report new cases, and because symptoms can go undetected for some time, the prevalence and incidence rate of MS can only be estimated. Nonetheless, MS is the most common neurological disease of young people, typically appearing between the ages of 20 and 40 and affecting approximately twice as many women as men. Veterans appear to be significantly more likely to develop MS than the general population.

About Multiple Sclerosis

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that manifests due to the immune system attacking myelin, the protective covering around nerve fibers such as neurons and dendrites. As the disease progresses, normal neurotransmission is inhibited and additional symptoms develop, such as pain, spasms, muscle spasticity, limb tremor, fatigue, and incontinence. All of the disease symptoms have a large negative impact on the quality of life of MS patients. MS most frequently presents at onset as a relapsing and remitting disorder, where symptoms come and go.

MS exacerbations appear to result from abnormal immune activity that causes inflammation and the destruction of myelin in the brain or spinal cord. After repeated attack from the immune system, nerves lose plasticity, which creates stress in nerve tissue. This stress leaves nerve tissue vulnerable to progressive damage and death.



Cannabis use in people with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis: A web-based investigation.

National Institutes of Health

Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

The therapeutic potential of cannabis

Treatment of Human Spasticity with Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 21: 413-416.

Effects of cannabinoids on spasticity and ataxia in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology, 226: 120-122.

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