Can CBD oil help with multiple sclerosis symptoms?
Multiple sclerosis is considered as the most widespread disabling neurological condition of young adults worldwide. And according to the National MS Society, more than 2.3 million people suffer from the effects of this disease globally. In the United States, it is estimated that around 1 million people are living with multiple sclerosis, doubling the first national research on multiple sclerosis prevalence that was conducted in 1975. And each week, 200 new cases of multiple sclerosis are diagnosed in the U.S. alone.
But what exactly is multiple sclerosis? What are its symptoms, how does it affect the human body, and most importantly, how can it be treated?
Multiple Sclerosis, An Overview
Multiple sclerosis is an often debilitating disease of the central nervous system. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks and destroys the myelin sheath that protects and insulates the nerve fibers. This causes inflammation and scar tissue, or lesions which causes signal disruptions between the brain and the body.
Contrary to some notion that multiple sclerosis is hereditary, it is not. However, if you have a close relative that has multiple sclerosis, then, the chance of you developing the disease is higher. This is according to the National MS Society.
The most common early symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis are:
- Vision problems
- Tingling and numbness in the face, arms, legs, and fingers
- Pain and spasms
- Fatigue and weakness
- Balance problems and dizziness
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
- Cognitive problems
- Changes in emotional health
- Hearing loss
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Breathing problems
- Slurred speech
- Trouble swallowing
These symptoms often lead to reduced physical activity, negative impact on functional mobility, and have a detrimental impact on the quality of life of the patient.
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis or RRMS is the most common type of multiple sclerosis. RRMS is characterized by day or weeklong relapses that can feature new symptoms, followed by periods of remissions that can last for months or even years.
The cause of multiple sclerosis is still a mystery even to the best researchers and experts on this said condition. What they’re certain of is this neurological disease mostly affects women and those between the ages of 15 and 60.
There is still no cure for multiple sclerosis. Current treatments are only for symptom management with prescription drugs and rehabilitation therapy. Treating MS is not cheap and the pharmaceuticals usually come with side effects. This is the main reason patients often turn to alternative treatments such as CBD oil.
CBD Oil for Multiple Sclerosis
Many scientific and medical studies have shown that using CBD oil to treat multiple sclerosis is an effective method in managing the symptoms of the said disease.
Studies revealed that CBD interacts with different receptors, chemicals, and proteins in the brain. And when it comes to treating multiple sclerosis, research findings suggest that CBD could slow the neurodegenerative process of multiple sclerosis. Researchers also say that CBD can help treat pain and spasticity symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis.
In a web-based survey conducted by Kindred et al. which was hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it showed that 66% of people with multiple sclerosis use CBD for symptom treatment.
In a study that was done in Canada, it was found out that approximately 50 percent of people with multiple sclerosis would consider the usage of cannabis if the legal status is clear ( Canada legalized recreational Marijuana on October 17, 2018) and scientific evidence is available.
Another study from the University of Rochester MS Center in New York looked at the “real world” experience of medical marijuana in managing symptoms of multiple sclerosis and transverse myelitis. In the cross-sectional study that was conducted by researchers, they asked subjects to answer a survey about their personal experiences regarding their medical marijuana usage and effects. About 77 percent of the subjects said that medical marijuana like CBD helped them manage multiple sclerosis symptoms like spasticity and pain without any side effects whatsoever. Another 70 percent said that by using medical marijuana, they felt that their quality of life improved and at the same time, by using medical marijuana, the use of other medications for their multiple sclerosis symptoms was reduced.
The Rochester study concluded that CBD oil appears to have a role in managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis through direct symptom relief and reduction in other medications.
CBD Oil for MS – Risks VS Benefits
Using CBD oil to treat Multiple Sclerosis comes with a lot of benefits. But at the same time, it also has its risks.
Kathy Costello, a nurse practitioner at the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center in Maryland and the associate vice president of healthcare access for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has this to say about the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from MS.
“There are potential benefits, but they must be presented with their fair risks. People must make the most informed decisions and choices taking this into consideration. It’s very important to note the risks as well as the potential benefits. There are risks involved. It is not studied like other medicines.” Costello told Healthline.
Dr. Barbara Giesser, professor of clinical neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and clinical director of the UCLA MS program, told Healthline that, “Cannabis and cannabinoid derivatives may be useful for some Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, but standard pharmacologic agents are available for the symptoms that have been shown to be responsive to cannabis and are more standardized in terms of efficacy, potency, and pharmacology.”
Carolyn Kaufman, a multiple sclerosis advocate who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and who’s lived with the disease since 2009, says that using medical marijuana like CBD oil has made all the difference for her.
“With Multiple Sclerosis, there’s only so much you can do for pain. It comes from exposed nerves that block signals from your brain and spine to your body to tell it how to work. I had severe excruciating pain from muscle spasms, but the muscles themselves aren’t to blame. It’s coming from damage on my spine and the muscle relaxers and pain pills go right to the muscle itself. CBD reduces inflammation, slowing down the disease activity and calming your entire system. It truly saved my life when my doctor ran out of answers.” Kaufman told Healthline.
According to Kaufman, it was the side effects and lack of effectiveness from the other medications that she was taking that led her to try medical marijuana.
“The medications weren’t helping with the pain at all, just making me high so then I was high and in pain. The side effects of the medications were mostly psychological — a lot of depression, apathy, mood swings, and exhaustion. When the pain was severe, CBD was my gift from the earth. It worked when nothing else would.” She said.
Kaufman, who provides coaching services for MS patients, has lost 150 pounds during her journey. Her story is told via her blog at Withouttheweight.com.
4 Ways to Take CBD Oil for MS
Typically, there are four ways in which a person diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can get cannabinoids in his or her system.
- By Inhalation Method
Inhalation is said to be the most efficient way to deliver CBD into the body. The reason, by inhaling CBD oil, more of the original product of the CBD oil enters the bloodstream compared when using the other methods. But remember, this is only recommended for adults with the vaping experience.
By inhaling CBD oil using a vape pen, the cannabidiol enters the lungs and is diffused into the bloodstream, bypassing the liver.
There are many available CBD oil for inhalation in the form of vape e-juice that you can choose from in the market today.
- By Topical Application Method
You can also take CBD oil in the form of creams, lotions, and salves by applying it on the uppermost layer of your cells only. This means that the properties of the CBD oil do not enter the bloodstream. This method is best for relieving pain and stress.
- By Sublingual Method
CBD oil, tinctures, and concentrates can be administered sublingually or by putting it under the tongue. By putting a few drops of CBD oil under the tongue and holding it there for a few minutes, the solution will be absorbed through the sublingual tissue and into the bloodstream. Using this method can have both immediate and long-lasting relief to a person suffering from multiple sclerosis.
- By Ingestion Method
This is the easiest way to deliver CBD oil compound to the system.
By swallowing CBD concentrated oil products that come as capsules, candy, foods, or beverages, the CBD oil concentrate will pass through the digestive system where it will metabolize in the liver. Then, the active compounds of the CBD will enter the bloodstream just like your ordinary daily vitamins are delivered.
CBD Oil Dosage
There are things to consider when it comes to working out on how much CBD you should take if you are suffering from multiple sclerosis. As always, the first thing you need to do is to consult a qualified medical professional before adding a new component to your wellness routine. Second, always remember that what works for some doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically work for you. Therefore, your CBD dose and dosing schedule is only personal to you.
However, there is a guideline that will make the process of determining the right dose much easier. Start off with just a small amount (between 1-5mg). Over the next few minutes, be conscious of how you feel. If you feel very little of your symptoms remain, wait an hour or two then increase your CBD dosage to somewhere between 3-10mg.
CBD Oil and Multiple Sclerosis: Final Word
People who suffer from multiple sclerosis only want one thing, to live a normal life. But the fact is, multiple sclerosis is not a simple condition to understand or treat. The different symptoms that come when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can be incredibly debilitating to an individual. But with the help of CBD, living a normal life even if one is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can become a reality.