If you’ve been following the news around medical cannabis, you might have chanced upon one of the many stories from MS patients whose lives have been changed by CBD.
Given that living with MS can sometimes make life an uphill battle, it’s natural to read about the success stories and wonder if CBD can help. Carry on reading to learn more about the science behind CBD with MS, and how it could relieve some of your more distressing MS symptoms.
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Table of Contents
What is MS?
MS is an autoimmune disorder, which means that it’s caused by a fault in the body’s immune system.
In MS, the body’s immune system attacks nerves in the central nervous system, causing inflammation and nerve damage.
Widespread inflammation in the central nervous system, produced by MS, causes damage to the protective sheaths which surround our nerves, known as myelin sheaths. Damage takes the form of a type of scarring known as MS plaques or lesions.
MS is an incurable, progressive disease meaning that, for most patients, the disease gets worse over time. The nerve damage associated with MS can lead to a number of distressing symptoms which can cause patients significant disability. Symptoms of MS include:
Numbness, weakness, electric-shock sensations, vision problems, slurred speech, tiredness, dizziness, pain, tingling, sexual dysfunction, problems controlling the bowels and bladder, and spasticity (extreme muscle stiffness).
Many MS patients also develop significant difficulties with mobility, sometimes to the point of paralysis.
How Can CBD Help with MS: The Science
MS is a complex disease, and we don’t yet fully understand the causes of the condition. However, some research has looked into how CBD can affect patients with MS, and the results so far are positive. Read on to learn more about the research about MS and how CBD can help (warning: heavy science incoming!)
T-cells are a type of immune cell which plays an important role in the body’s immune response. There are numerous types of T-cells.
Some kinds of T-cells, such as CD4+ T-cells, CD8+ T-cells, Th1, and Th17, have been linked to neuroinflammation, the process which is largely responsible for the myelin damage seen in MS.
Researchers have shown that CD8+ T-cells can be found in MS lesions, and they believe that their presence could be partly responsible for the progression of the disease. Some varieties of both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells can produce compounds known as inflammatory cytokines.
One type of inflammatory cytokine is called IL-17, and studies have found receptors for this molecule in MS lesions. It’s interesting to note that studies have linked reduced levels of IL-17 with reduction in symptoms in mouse models of MS.
CBD has been shown to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. This reduction in numbers may mean that CBD can directly affect the progression of MS, but more research is needed for scientists to confirm this and to fully understand what’s happening.
Regardless of the science behind CBD’s effects on MS, scientists have found that CBD can be very effective for patients.
This article by experts from Colorado State University and the University of Illinois highlighted the role that CBD can play in reducing spasticity, pain, inflammation, fatigue, and depression in people with MS. The scientists recommended CBD supplements as a potential treatment for MS patients with mobility problems.
Much of the research surrounding cannabinoids as a treatment for MS has focused on cannabis-based medicines containing both THC and CBD. The research has consistently shown benefits for people with MS, including reductions in spasticity, pain, and sleep disturbance.
Studies focused on whole-plant extracts, which contain THC, CBD, as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis. As such, you might see greater benefit from whole-plant CBD extracts.
How Much CBD Should You Take for MS?
Because everyone’s body and tolerance to cannabinoids is different, it isn’t possible to recommend a definitive dose of CBD oil for MS. Some patients find very low doses to be effective, while others use 200+mg per day.
The good news is that CBD has been shown to be relatively safe and well-tolerated, even at very high doses. As with any supplement, CBD could interact with some of the drugs you’ve been prescribed for MS, so you should always check with your doctor before starting treatment.
If it isn’t possible to consult your doctor on the best dose of CBD for your specific case, it’s better to estimate by weight. Anywhere between 1-6 mg per 10 lbs of body weight is a good rule. That being said, its best to take the lowest dose possible and increase as needed.
A complete beginner may want to start low and increase as needed to get relief. However, someone with a higher cannabinoid tolerance may find a starting dose to be as high as 25 mg.
Regardless, it’s best to take a little at a time and see how cannabinoids affect you before taking more. If further relief is needed, it is safe to take more CBD; just remember to check in with your doctor!
Best Cbd Oil for Multiple Sclerosis
Because CBD laws are still developing in the US, it can be difficult to find consistent products that actually live up to their claims. Check to see if a product has been lab-tested to confirm its percentage of CBD and that it is free of contaminants.
Independent tests have shown that many CBD products contained a lot less CBD than advertises. For this reason, it’s very important to purchase CBD only through trustworthy sources.
Like CBD, THC has been shown to help with many of the symptoms of MS. If you can get hold of medical cannabis, then adding THC into the mix could add to the effects of CBD, so look for strains which combine these cannabinoids. Some well known high-CBD low-THC strains are Tower (Cannatonic), Nebula II and CBD Shark.
While some patients appreciate the instant relief provided by vaping CBD, a lot of studies have focused on whole-plant extracts. As such, you might get the best results from using a whole-plant CBD extract like CBD paste.
If you’re battling with MS, the research is clear that CBD can help. While patients with any serious condition should consult their doctor, we know that CBD is safe and effective when used for some of your most challenging symptoms, like spasticity, pain, and mobility problems.
If your existing treatments aren’t providing the relief you need, it’s definitely worth considering CBD as an addon. But not all CBD is created equal, so make sure to choose a product from a trusted supplier, and consider choosing a whole-plant extract like CBD paste.
Make sure to share this article with an MS patient in your life who could benefit from CBD, and feel free to leave us a comment below if you have any questions!
Will is the editor here at CBD Oil Geek. He is passionate about CBD and other natural alternatives to dangerous prescription medicines. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York.