March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Month, and MS is one of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in PA. MS is a serious, non-communicable disease that targets the central nervous system and can be extremely debilitating and potentially disabling. However, there are a multitude of treatment options to help those with MS, and medical marijuana is but one of the potentially helpful choices available.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is an abnormal immune mediated process in which the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord, as well as the optic nerves. In doing so, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin, which is a fatty substance that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers. This damage to myelin and the nerve fibers it protects causes overall damage to the CNS, altering or stopping messages that are carried through it completely, slowing it down or stopping it all together.
MS can progress in different ways, and the symptoms and severity can vary greatly amongst patients. Some symptoms include numbness or weakness of the limbs, tremor, loss of coordination, difficulty with mobility, visual disturbances, slurred speech, dizziness, and tingling/pain in different parts of the body. The causes of MS are largely unknown, though some research suggests that it may be linked to genetic factors or environmental factors.
At this time, there is no cure for MS. That being said, there are a multitude of beneficial treatment options and therapies that can be greatly helpful to patients with MS, both in extending the lives of those with MS as well as helping create a higher quality of living. Medical marijuana is one such option that has the potential to be helpful to those with MS.
How Can Marijuana Help?
The use of medical marijuana as a therapeutic treatment for MS has very limited research, and much evidence is anecdotal. Marijuana does have some potential to help manage and mitigate symptoms that patients with MS may be experiencing. Many of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties, such as THC, CBD, Myrcene, and Caryophyllene, and this can potentially be very helpful to ease pain as well as help with muscle spasms. Similarly, marijuana can possibly help relieve side effects like fatigue or sleep loss due to pain. With that in mind, there isn’t enough evidence to support long term effects this may have on how MS affects the body, though it can still possibly help alleviate these symptoms while in use.
Those dealing with MS have the right to choose the treatment option that works best for them, and if medical marijuana can be of help to them, then that’s great! As with any condition though, patients with MS should talk to their doctor if they are interested in adding medical marijuana to their treatment plan, and as always take into consideration what will be best for them. If nothing else, as members of the medical marijuana community, we hope to do what we can for MS patients, as with all of our patients, to ensure the highest quality of living.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed for accuracy by the FDA. As always, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when considering trying a new treatment. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor first.