In Florida, Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an approved, qualified condition for Medical Marijuana (Cannabis), which can legally be recommended to treat the debilitating pain, spasticity and bladder problems associated with this chronic degenerative disease. In fact, Cannabis is currently being used by a large number of patients suffering with MS. In one survey, 42% of MS patients that responded said they’ve used, and endorsed, Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) to treat their symptoms. Sleep and pain were the most frequently reported reasons for use.
It’s recommended you consult with your healthcare provider, who should be your go-to for any medical advice on potential treatments. Always consult your doctor before taking any new medication.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. The most well known among these compounds is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Delta 9 THC is what gives the “high.” CBD (cannabidoil) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Cannabis-based medicines contain THC, CBD or a combination of both. When inhaled, consumed as an edible, or used on the skin as a topical preparation, the cannabinoids bind to receptors in the human body and alter nerve transmission in the brain.
Learn more about THC with this short video.
Cannabinoids act on receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a key role in endogenous pain control. Two of the cannabinoids found in cannabis, THC and CBD, along with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoid compounds, are thought to exhibit synergistic effects that promote pain relief.
Medical Marijuana to Relieve Chronic Pain
Chronic pain relief is by far the most common condition reported by patients that use medical cannabis. In a 2014 study, 94% percent of Colorado medical marijuana ID cardholders indicated “severe pain” as a medical condition.1 A growing body of clinical research and a history of anecdotal evidence support the use of cannabis for the relief of some types of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain, and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.2
The THC in marijuana may help temporarily relieve pain by interacting with the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors (endocannabinoid system) and reducing pain signaling and pain perception. Chronic pain may benefit from marijuana’s anti-inflammatory effects as well. CBD may help to stimulate an immune response and attenuate pro-inflammatory cytokines – those are small proteins involved in signaling pain.
A 2012 trial looked at the effect of smoking cannabis on the symptoms of MS. The researchers found that smoking cannabis led to more pain reduction than a placebo.
CBD, when used as a topical, may have some positive effects in reducing inflammation. There is currently not yet enough research to prove any effects on pain relief.
How do you use marijuana for pain relief?
You can smoke, vape, apply topicals to your skin, or consume edibles. The way you take cannabis is a personal choice and based on the type of pain you’re experiencing. At Southern Comfort Marijuana Clinic, our top priority is your successful therapy. We help you fine tune an individual plan that benefits you the most.
If you have further questions about Medical Cannabis, click here to browse our Knowledge Base.
May Help Muscle Control
In 2015, a group of scientists from the NeuroDegeneration and NeuroRepair Group of the University of Cadiz in Spain set about researching the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the impairment of motor skills in some cannabis users, i.e. difficulty speaking and forming words. They observed the effects of marijuana on the motor neurons, or nerve cells, that control muscle movements. What they reported discovering was that the psychoactive compounds in marijuana actually inhibit the transmission of information between these neurons via the synapses, and the result of this was muscular weakness. “The motor neuron – that is, the one that gives the order to the muscle to contract – sees its activity reduced which, as a consequence, would weaken the strength of the muscle contraction.” 3
According to their study (“Spasticity in multiple sclerosis and role of glatiramer acetate treatment“), “approximately 90% of MS patients develop spasticity – abnormal muscle tightness due to prolonged muscle contraction.” Some more than others, with some experiencing intermittent attacks of spasticity that become disabling.
For a definitive answer, way more research is needed on marijuana’s effects on spasticity. To date, there are intriguing studies where respondents find relief from muscle stiffness with cannabis. But not enough yet to constitute strong evidence that marijuana relieves spasticity…because marijuana-induced euphoria or pain relief might decrease patients’ perceptions of muscle stiffness or spasticity.
Here are a couple of studies on cannabis and muscle control:
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know“
National Library of Medicine: “The Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Treating Symptoms of MS“
If you’re dealing with pain and muscle contractions, you’re not going to sleep well. Because medical cannabis may help ease pain and controlling muscle spasms, this treatment then may in-turn help you sleep better. Marijuana may help some fall asleep faster, wake up less during the night, and enjoy better sleep quality overall.
The National MS Society states that, “Bladder dysfunction, which occurs in at least 80 percent of people with MS, happens when MS lesions block or delay transmission of nerve signals in areas of the central nervous system (CNS) that control the bladder and urinary sphincters.” Cannabinoid receptors are present in the central nervous system, and the natural compounds found in Cannabis may work directly with those natural receptors and improve urinary incontinence conditions. At the moment, more extensive research is needed.
There have been numerous studies on the effects of cannabinoids and bladder symptoms associated with MS. Most of these studies involved small numbers of patients with MS, so the results are not statistically significant. But researchers indicate that cannabis might improve the symptoms of bladder problems in people with MS.
Risks of Using Medical Marijuana
Using Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) to treat MS symptoms does come with some possible side effects.
THC does have a psychoactive effect (We work with you to determine the best individualized usage plan that fits you. For example, combining THC with CBD may reduce the “high,” and other, side effects)
- Confusion and possibly paranoia
- Problems with thinking and reasoning
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Problems with balance and coordination
- A raised heart rate
In summary, Cannabis may be beneficial for those suffering with multiple sclerosis. Scientific evidence suggests that it can lessen pain, muscle spasms and bladder issues, but more, large studies are needed to confirm that evidence.
Southern Comfort Marijuana Clinic can help you craft an effective therapy plan that right for you.
1. Light, M. K., A. Orens, B. Lewandowski, and T. Pickton. 2014. Market size and demand for marijuana in Colorado. The Marijuana Policy Group.
3. Cannabinoid agonists rearrange synaptic vesicles at excitatory synapses and depress motoneuron activity in vivo