Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease with unclear causes and is characterized by the breakdown of fat-based myelin sheets in the brain and spinal cord, which leads to a degeneration of the nerve fibers. The most commonly associated symptoms of MS are muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, and slurred speech. Acute and chronic pain are also common symptoms.
Over the last decade, we have come to better understand the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating the neural signaling that controls spasticity, supporting previous research showing that cannabis-based medicines have been very helpful in managing muscle spasms.1 Cannabis-based medicines have been approved in several states and in 16 countries across the world for treating both pain and spasticity. One of these medicines, Sativex, is a 1:1 CBD:THC plant-based mouth spray developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, and it is currently awaiting FDA approval for use here in the United States.
There isn’t a lot of research looking at CBD’s specific effects on MS in isolation; however, one study conducted in 2017 with mice showed promising results for CBD’s ability to treat and possibly reverse some of MS’s degenerative effects in the brain and spine.2 That said, there have been several studies supporting the use of a THC:CBD combination for spasticity and pain. It seems that the best dosage varies drastically from patient to patient, and that finding the best personal dose for MS symptoms requires some trial and error.
A cross-cultural study looking at American and Israeli MS patients showed that both groups suffered from high levels of stress and experienced difficulty coping with feelings of hopelessness.3 Later studies revealed that stress seems to be involved in onset, exacerbation, and relapse.4 Given CBD’s effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression , these therapeutic properties could be quite helpful to MS patients.
This is from Diana, age 57, a patient who worked with Eileen to treat multiple sclerosis:
“I am so grateful to know Eileen! It’s because of her my quality of life has changed. A lot of people thought I smoked cannabis. Well, nope; I tried it in high school, never really liked it, and never smoked again. I had heard of people with MS getting great results, but didn’t care to go that route, until…
Eileen came to me and explained how today, with all the different types of medical strains, that it could help my MS. At the time, I was not doing well and it was getting worse. I was diagnosed with progressive MS in 1992, and MRIs through the years have shown that the lesions have gone from the left side of my brain to covering my entire brain. I never tried any of the drugs prescribed for MS as I feel they do more harm down the road. At the time we talked, I was struggling so badly. My condition was also creating depression, and I was almost ready to give in to the MS drugs. I felt, at that point, what did I have to lose? She taught me what I needed to know about medical cannabis, the different delivery methods, and about CBD and THC. I have made such positive progress with not only my health but also my quality of life.
I have learned how to figure out what strains work for which ailments and more. I only wish others with MS would realize it’s more than one strain or just smoking it. Sure, I have bad days and my pain is way beyond at times. But I know once I figure out which strain to use as a salve and internally, it will pass. Eileen, you rock and you’re an angel. Thank you for believing and sharing this plant’s healing power. Thank you for putting yourself out there and fighting for those that need it. I am forever grateful you came into my life six years ago!”
- David Baker et al., “The Biology That Underpins the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis-Based Medicines for the Control of Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis,” Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders 1, no. 2 (2012): 64–75, doi:10.1016/j.msard.2011.11.001.
- S. Giacoppo et al., “Purified Cannabidiol, the Main Non-Psychotropic Component of Cannabis Sativa, Alone, Counteracts Neuronal Apoptosis in Experimental Multiple Sclerosis,” European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences 19, no. 24 (2015): 4906–19.
- Varda Mei-Tal, Sanford Meyerowitz, and George L. Engel, “The Role of Psychological Process in a Somatic Disorder: Multiple Sclerosis,” Psychosomatic Medicine 32, no. 1 (1970): 67–86, doi:10.1097/00006842-197001000-00006.
- K. D. Ackerman et al., “Stressful Life Events Precede Exacerbations of Multiple Sclerosis,” Psychosomatic Medicine 64, no. 6 (2002): 916–20, doi:10.1097/01.psy.0000038941.33335.40.