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Can Medical Marijuana Treat MS in Ohio?

What is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis, also referred to as MS, is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to various nerves in the body. There are 4 types of MS that range from relapsing to remissive stages, and stages that progressively worsen without remission. The symptoms of MS vary from person to person, and the degree of severity can be mild to debilitating. The most commonly experienced symptoms of MS are vision problems, pain, numbness, muscle weakness, bladder issues, fatigue and cognitive issues. The list of MS symptoms is extensive due to the disease affecting different areas in the nervous system. Other primary symptoms include balance problems, stiffness, tremors and other involuntary movements, anxiety, depression, dizziness, and sleep disturbances. Those with MS can experience any of those symptoms, and when these symptoms become exasperated it is referred to as an MS “flare up.”

What Causes MS?

There is no known cause for MS, however, there are situations that can bring about an MS flare up. A flare up occurs when the central nervous system becomes inflamed. A flare up can be recognized by the onset of new or worsening symptoms. Some factors that can cause inflammation to occur are stress, lack of sleep, extreme temperatures, diet, and infections. It’s important for those who suffer from MS to recognize their personal triggers and how to manage their symptoms.

Using Medical Marijuana to Manage MS Symptoms and Flare Ups

It is recommended for those that suffer from MS to manage their symptoms through various means. Some find relief from eating a diet that fights inflammation or taking vitamins that can reduce inflammation. Many with MS have also reported that including medical marijuana into their daily regimen can reduce or alleviate MS symptoms, and aid in diminishing the occurrence of flare ups. One of the most beneficial reasons for using cannabis is the plants anti-inflammatory properties. THC, one of the primary compounds in the cannabis plant, has been linked to suppressing inflammatory responses within the bodies endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids also suppress the body’s inflammatory response that helps stop the death of cells and aids in regulating the immune system.

Pain and Stiffness

The National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) stated in one study that the use of Cannabinoids improved symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases. It goes on to include that Cannabinoids specifically improved MS symptoms such as pain, stiffness, tremors and involuntary movements due to their immunosuppressive and neuroprotective properties.

Fatigue and Sleep Issues

Two common symptoms of MS, fatigue and sleep issues, might sound like a contradiction to one another, but can both have serious implications on the body and mental health. Fatigue can be described as an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. Like other MS symptoms, fatigue is worsened by sleep issues. Many people with MS have difficulty falling and staying asleep due to the amount of pain and stiffness caused by MS. There are many strains of medical marijuana that can help those with fatigue during the day, and aid in sleep at night. Marijuana strains that help to produce energy are usually classified as Sativa strains. Energizing strains that can help with fatigue are Harlequin, Chocolope, Sour Diesel, and Blue Dream to name a few. For night time use, Indica strains are characterized to help with the aid in sleep and relaxation. Common Indica strains for sleep include Skywalker, God’s Gift, Grandaddy Purple and Kosher Kush. Due to cannabis reducing pain, stiffness and tremors, studies found that those with MS in general also experienced better sleep while using cannabis.

Anxiety and Depression

Along with the physiological symptoms of MS, medical marijuana can also assist with the emotional and psychological symptoms of MS. Medical marijuana’s two main cannabidiols, THC and CBD have both been found to alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety. Another study published by NCBI found that Cannabidiol, or CBD, enhances serotonin levels immediately upon the first dose of CBD. Due to how quickly the effects of CBD are, and how long-lasting the effects remained, CBD also demonstrated similar effects to that of antidepressants. CBD is able to perform as an antianxiety and antidepressant due to it stimulating the 5-HT1A receptor in the brain responsible for decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, aggression, impulsivity as well as prolonging REM sleep and increasing sex drive.

Tremors and Involuntary Movements

Another symptom that can be experienced with MS are tremors and Myoclonus involuntary movements, which include shaking, jerking motions, spasms, and even seizures. These movements can be exasperated by stress, sleep depravity and depression, therefore the use of medical marijuana can be beneficial in the treatment of unwanted movements. As mentioned above, the use of CBD helps facilitate the function of the 5-HT1A receptor to reduce anxiety and depression. Numerous studies have also concluded with anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids have a therapeutic effect on MS related tremors and movements.   

Becoming a Patient

Due to most states recognizing that MS is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use, becoming a legal Ohio medical marijuana patient begins with scheduling an exam with a registered MMJ Physician. At your appointment, you’ll want to bring in any relevant documentation of your condition and discuss with your Ohio MMJ doctor your symptoms to determine if medical marijuana is right for you. After becoming a patient, we recommend keeping a patient journal to track product usage and take notes on how effective each product is. You can also use the DocMJ Patient Journal for tracking flare-ups, including length and severity, to monitor over time if medical marijuana has an impact on your symptoms. Treating MS can be tricky due to each person experiencing their own set of symptoms and triggers. Monitoring your symptoms, triggers, and finding support in the medical marijuana community could greatly benefit the effectiveness of your medical marijuana treatment plan.


Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22791906

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26711860

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604184/