Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune disease known to affect the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. It occurs when the body attacks myelin, a fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers. When the myelin protective coating is removed, nerves are damaged and scar tissue forms. This often results in a loss of balance and muscle control; and vision problems when the optic nerve is involved.
By the Numbers: MS is the leading debilitating neurologic disease of young people, and 2.3 million people across the globe suffer from it. In the United States alone, nearly 9,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.
MS symptoms can be mild to severe, with some patients going about their lives as usual and others experiencing debilitating effects of the disease, which makes “normal life” nearly impossible. Because of the nerve damage, the brain is unable to transmit signals through the body properly. Those living with MS typically experience the following symptoms to some degree:
- Trouble with walking correctly, unable to maintain balance
- Muscle weakness and spasms
- Vision problem, including blurred vision or double vision
- Numbness and tingling throughout the body
- Sexual issues; issues with bladder and bowel control
- Feeling fatigued, as well as problems with focus or memory
- General or localized pain
- Depression and anxiety
Multiple Sclerosis Facts
Multiple sclerosis patients usually see the onset of the disease between the ages of 20 years old and 40 years old. Although doctors are entirely sure what causes MS, there are a few possible risk factors. People with particular genetic makeup seem to have a predisposition to the disease. (take this outSmoking may also cause the disease to occur).
There are certain viruses – such as Epstein Barre and herpesvirus 6 – which may have a link to MS. Although medical experts are not exactly sure of why these viruses seem to instigate MS, they observe that the immune system may never fully recover from those conditions, making the patient more prone to multiple sclerosis.
MS patients either experience a progression of their symptoms, or they may have relapses. Relapses are periods of illness in between periods of relative health. (take out when no symptoms are evident.)
Interesting fact for Floridians: Vitamin D exposure seems to lessen the effect of the disease, and those in sunnier regions do seem to fare better in the long term.
How Can Medical Cannabis Help?
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Therefore, someone living with the disease is interested in both slowing the progression and reducing the symptoms. Medical cannabis has been proven to work with the cannabinoid receptors in the body to relieve many of the symptoms associated with MS. These may include:
- Reduce Inflammation: The myelin damage MS causes results in significant inflammation of the nerve, resulting in problems with motor control as well as muscle weakness and spasms. Cannabis is a potent anti-inflammatory that may reduce immune response and minimize inflammation.
- Provide Relief from Pain: Patients suffering from the debilitating pain and discomfort of MS often find the analgesic quality of cannabis helps ease that pain.
- Minimize Spasms: Muscle spasticity caused by MS may benefit from the antispasmodic effect of cannabis. Medical marijuana may help to lessen both the severity of spasms, as well as their frequency.
- Help Abdominal Concerns: Cannabis may alleviate symptoms in the abdominal area, including pain, incontinence, and constipation
Other positive effects of medical cannabis use involve relieving depression and anxiety, which can accompany a severe physical condition, as well as to help with relaxation and sleep issues.
Dr. Daniel P. Stein is Sarasota’s leading authority on the benefits of medical cannabis as an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis, as well as many other conditions covered under Florida law. (See a full list of qualifying conditions here.) Call Neurology of Cannabis today, and learn more about treating your disease safely, naturally and effectively.