Medical marijuana offers relief for many multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. Research also suggests cannabis may slow the progress of MS by suppressing the activity of immune cells and reducing inflammation.
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WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system incorrectly attacks nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in blurred vision, slurred speech, tremors, paralysis, and spasticity (a condition causing muscles to continuously contract).
Scientists do not know why immune cells attack the central nervous system, and believe it may be a combination of environmental factors and genetic predispositions.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, more than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SYMPTOMS
Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable; no two MS patients share the same symptom experience. One patient may only experience one or two symptoms, while another suffers from a broad range.
Common symptoms include:
Blurred vision, poor contrast or color vision, and painful eye movement
Changes in the ability to learn, process information, solve problems, focus, and understand surroundings
Dizziness and vertigo
Numbness or tingling in the face, body, or extremities
Spasticity, feelings of stiffness, and involuntary muscle spasms
HOW MEDICAL MARIJUANA HELPS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS PATIENTS
Medical marijuana helps reduce the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and ease stiffness. Patients experience more freedom of movement, calming of the frequent urge to urinate, and better sleep.
Medical cannabis also acts as an analgesic, helping to relieve pain and inflammation.
The American Academy of Neurology now publicly acknowledges marijuana’s potential to treat MS, writing:
“Strong evidence shows that oral cannabis extract lessens patients’ reported symptoms of spasticity. It also lessens the pain caused by spasticity.”
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society supports the Academy’s position, adding:
“The Society supports advancing research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of marijuana and its derivatives as a treatment for MS.”