Overview

Multiple sclerosis, is a medical condition that results from the damage to the protective cover of the nerves called the myelin sheath. This destruction occurs as a consequence of the body’s immune cells attacking the covering. Once this damage occurs, scar tissue may form over the myelin. The destruction of this layer renders the brain incapable of correctly sending out signals throughout your body. As a result, various aspects of your body, as well as your nerves, work abnormally. Currently, the cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. Doctors, however, have been able to point out that activities such as smoking increase your risk of getting the disease. Minerals such as vitamin D can decrease your chances of having multiple sclerosis. Most people who have multiple sclerosis experience numbness or tingling sensations, weakened muscles, spasms, weak bladder or bowel control and chronic pain. They may also have problems remembering certain things and may feel excessively tired. 400,000 Americans are currently living with multiple sclerosis.

Conventional treatment methods

There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis. Medical practitioners usually focus on helping patients recover quickly from attacks or to effectively manage their symptoms. When an attack occurs, medication such as oral prednisolone may be administered to reduce the inflammation of the nerves. Plasma exchange, a process involving the mixing of your blood cells with a protein called albumin, can also be done to help you cope with symptoms. The latter is usually performed when patients do not respond to steroid treatment.

How marijuana helps treat multiple sclerosis

The adverse effects stemming from multiple sclerosis usually come from inflammation. The inflammation usually occurs when immune cells release cytokines into the bloodstream. These induce inflammation and ultimately cause the damage of the brain and its nerves. With time, a more damaged brain experiences increasingly worse symptoms. Medical marijuana contains components known as cannabinoids that have anti-inflammatory properties.

When cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are introduced to your body, they interact with the endocannabinoid system and cause your immune cells to stop producing cytokines. Once the immune system has calmed down, you experience lower levels of inflammation. Combined with their neuroprotective properties, cannabinoids in medical marijuana combat oxidative stress. This protects your brain and helps the nerves to function normally.

Along with the reduction in inflammation, cannabinoids have the ability to stop muscle stiffness and spasms. In a study conducted at the Tel Aviv University in Israel, researchers discovered that the cannabinoid CBD caused paralyzed rats to regain their walking ability. The scientists had injected the mice with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis to achieve the paralyzing effect. The mice injected with CBD were not only able to walk again, but they also experienced less nerve damage alluded to the protective nature cannabinoids have over nerves.

A study conducted at the University of Plymouth in 2012 found that cannabis was two times more effective at relieving muscle stiffness from multiple sclerosis as compared to a placebo. 12 weeks into the administration of cannabis during the experiment, participants who were taking medical marijuana exhibited a significant reduction in their number of spasms as compared to those taking the placebo.

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