March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. It is thought to affect more than 2.3 million people across the globe. Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is an immune-mediated process in which the body’s immune system begins to target the central nervous system, CNS. This caused inflammation in the brain and the degradation of something called myelin, as well as nerve fiber damage. Myelin’s purpose is to surround and insulate nerve fibers. Without myelin and nerve fibers, messages in the CNS are either slowed greatly or stopped altogether. MS can progress in different ways and is generally divided in four disease courses. These are referred to as Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS), Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), Secondary progressive MS (SPMS), and Primary progressive MS.
The symptoms of MS are unpredictable and can vary from person to person. They may also disappear, persist, or worsen over time. Some of the most common symptoms of MS include fatigue, visual disturbances, altered sensation, and difficulty with mobility. There is no cure for MS currently, although there have been many therapeutic and medical breakthroughs that have greatly extended the lives of those with MS. The causes of MS are unknown, although research has been conducted to examine the influence of environmental factors, such as geographic gradient, Vitamin D, smoking, and obesity.
In 2016, MS was deemed an approved medical condition for the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana program. Currently, 23 other states also have approved MS as a condition for which treatment by medical marijuana is appropriate. Although the research is limited, there is proof that more patients with MS are using cannabis for treatment and a majority reported significant improvements in their symptoms. THC and CBD work to reduce pain and inflammation directly on a cellular level. Some of the commonly treated symptoms are pain, tremor, bladder spasms, muscle spasticity, fatigue, and insomnia.