Ever since the term medical marijuana erupted on the cannabis scene, along with the recent discovery of the largest neurotransmitter system in the body — the endocannabinoid system — one disease in particular has garnered much media and medical attention.
That disease is multiple sclerosis commonly referred to as MS. The reasons I believe will become self-evident as we delve into the research that has been performed using cannabis extracts or other preparations to treat the myriad signs and symptoms of this complex disease.
There has been an explosion of research using cannabis preparations in treating MS over the last decade or so, much of it using gold-standard techniques. Once again, this information is available to those government officials who insist that pot has no medical applications. A quick Google Scholar search reveals over 145 results. In it, there are dozens of studies that clearly demonstrate a viable, and effective alternative treatment strategy using marijuana to treat MS.
In fact, the UK’s pharmaceutical firm GW Pharmaceuticals, whose stock has recently skyrocketed, has their own studies to back up using their proprietary mixture of a one to one THC:CBD formula called Sativex®.
But, before we dive into the research let me define for you what exactly MS is. We have all heard the term before since it is one of the most common neurological disorders around.
Let’s head over to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for a workable definition:
Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”
Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.
When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.
The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe.