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What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system.  In patients with MS, the immune system attacks the material called myelin that wraps around nerve fibers to act as protection, wearing away at the outer shell.  Without the protective shell, the nerves become damaged and scar tissue or lesions can form as a result.   Eventually, the damage results in the nerves not working properly because they cannot receive signals from the brain correctly.

What are some symptoms of MS?  As a result of the nerve damage, a patient with MS can feel a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble walking
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction

Due to the nature of the disease, MS can affect people in very different ways.  Often, patients with MS have “attacks” or “relapses”, which are periods of time when symptoms become worse, alternated with times of recovery when symptoms seem to improve.  Some patients have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment, while others can have difficulty conducting their daily lives.  How can Medical Marijuana help?  Many studies have shown that medical marijuana can help with several of the symptoms that MS patients suffer from daily.  Medical marijuana has been shown to help with muscle stiffness and muscle spasms, which helps alleviate several symptoms.  In one study, participants that received an oral cannabis extract reported an improved perception of muscle stiffness by double, when compared to participants that received a placebo.  Studies have also shown that medical marijuana can reduce bladder spasms and urgency, possibly also due to the relief of muscle spasms. Additionally, nerve pain can be relieved by the use of medical marijuana in a number of ways.  Decreased pain could help with sleep, resulting in improvement of fatigue symptoms as well as feelings of depression.  Medical marijuana is also known to be an anti-inflammatory drug.  Inflammation has been shown to be a major cause of symptoms and relapses in patients with MS.  While more research is needed, many studies show positive results in treating many of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis with medical marijuana.