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MS overview

Published on November 18th, 2019

Last updated on June 6th, 2020

Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a very mysterious and debilitating disease that impacts the central nervous system. In MS, the body’s immune system attacks the protective tissue, which covers nerve fibers and leads to a litany of communication problems between your brain and body.

The major signs and symptoms of MS can vary greatly depending on which nerves are damaged, how long the damage has occurred, and how bad it is. While there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, treatment has been shown to enhance the quality of life significantly and even improve the long-term prognosis.

The most common symptoms of MS affect movement, including weakness or stiffness in one or more extremities. Also known as spasticity, this stiffness can often only affect one side of the body at a time. Another common symptom is painful electric-like shocks that occur during neck movements, along with a general lack of coordination.

Vision problems are also quite common in cases of MS, including partial or complete vision loss, double vision, or blurry vision. Other symptoms may include dizziness, sexual dysfunction, slurred speech, or fatigue.

Most people who live with MS have what is known as a relapsing-remitting disease course. This means patients generally experience new or continued symptoms that develop quickly and only last a few days or weeks at a time. Luckily, these periods of relapse are followed by periods of remission, which can sometimes last years.

However, others are not as lucky, and their MS can develop into secondary-progressive, or primary-progressive MS, which means periods of remission can become significantly reduced, or it can even become chronic.

The most significant risk factors for MS are things that you don’t have any control over, such as age, sex, and genetics. However, factors, as varied as infections, climate, vitamin D levels, and even smoking, can increase your risk of developing MS.

Multiple sclerosis affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide, making it a relatively uncommon condition. However, new reports have found nearly half a million people in the US alone are dealing with MS, nearly twice as many as previously believed.

Given the growing prevalence in America, it’s all the more important to find new and effective ways to help people mitigate their MS symptoms. If you believe you or a loved one may be living with multiple sclerosis, talk to a doctor as soon as possible. Only they can provide the most accurate and pertinent information for each case.

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Table of Contents

CBD Research For MS

potencial impact research overview

Multiple Sclerosis - Sativex for the management of multiple sclerosis symptoms

  • Issues Emerg Health Technol
  • 2005

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

CBD based medicines such as Sativex have been approved to treat neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis. The researchers wanted to uncover any other benefits provided by CBD, such as reducing spasticity. After testing nearly 400 patients, the team concluded CBD and THC mixtures were able to significantly improve not only pain and spasticity but also spasms and sleep issues.

Multiple Sclerosis - THC and CBD oromucosal spray (Sativex®) in the management of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis

  • Vall d'Hebron University Hospital
  • 2011

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers wanted to understand better how Sativex, a CBD based medication, controls spasticity in patients with central nervous system dysfunction. Clinical evidence indicates Sativex reduces the severity of symptoms, leading to an increased ability to carry out daily activities. Interestingly, the team showed a majority of adverse effects could be effectively mitigated via simple uptitration.

Multiple Sclerosis - Clinical efficacy and effectiveness of Sativex, a combined cannabinoid medicine, in multiple sclerosis-related spasticity

  • University of Madrid
  • 2012

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

Spasticity was identified as one of the primary disabling symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which reduces the overall quality of life for patients. The team wanted to understand if CBD-based Sativex could be a more reliable and tolerable treatment for spasticity than we currently have. Trials show Sativex significantly reduces the severity of spasticity-related pain, as well as increasing functional status.

Multiple Sclerosis - Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: a role for A2A receptors

  • Cajal Institute
  • 2013

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

The researchers wanted to determine how well the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD affect the deleterious impact of certain inflammatory conditions. CBD was shown to activate Adenosine A2A receptors, providing a significant portion of the overall anti-inflammatory power. They concluded CBD provides valuable potential as a treatment for conditions that involve any inflammatory component.

Multiple Sclerosis - Oromucosal delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol for neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis: an uncontrolled, open-label, 2-year extension trial

  • Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • 2007

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

Central neuropathic pain is one of the most common symptoms caused by any dysfunction in the nervous system. CBD was tested as a potential method for reducing pain without adverse side effects. CBD was shown to be an effective treatment option even after two years of doses, as there was no evidence of increased tolerance.

Multiple Sclerosis - Nabiximols in the treatment of spasticity, pain and urinary symptoms due to multiple sclerosis

  • Queen's Medical Centre
  • 2012

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

This overview of a new CBD-based medication provides evidence CBD can significantly improve symptoms related to the central nervous system. Clinical evidence shows that CBD-based Nabiximols can benefit spasticity, pain, as well as bladder dysfunction associated with MS. Despite the encouraging results, the researchers believe more evidence is needed to understand any long-term impact of Nabiximols fully.

Multiple Sclerosis - Sativex long-term use: an open-label trial in patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis

  • University of Glasgow
  • 2013

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

This overview of a randomized trial of CBD-based Sativex provides substantial evidence of its value for those dealing with central nervous system dysfunction. Sativex was shown to provide a clinically relevant benefit on spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, while adverse side effects were exceedingly uncommon. The researchers also found no new safety concerns related to chronic treatment with Sativex.

Multiple Sclerosis - A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of Sativex, in subjects with symptoms of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis

  • Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust
  • 2010

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

Muscle spasticity is one of the most common symptoms for those dealing with MS, affecting over 60% of those diagnosed. CBD-based Sativex was compared with placebo over a 15-week, double-blind, randomized trial. The team concluded treatment with CBD significantly reduced treatment-resistant spasticity, even in those with advanced central nervous system conditions.

Multiple Sclerosis - Meta-analysis of cannabis based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain

  • PharmIdeas Research & Consulting Inc
  • 2007

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

Chronic and debilitating pain is one of the most common issues which go along with central nervous conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. This review of the currently available evidence suggests CBD-based medications, such as Sativex, are safe and effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain. However, the researchers believe more studies are needed to understand the impact of CBD fully.

Multiple Sclerosis - Sativex: clinical efficacy and tolerability in the treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain

  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 2006

related conditions:

Multiple Sclerosis

This review of the CBD-based medication, Sativex, highlights the various uses and potential adverse effects on patients with central nervous system issues. The report notes that given the average number of sprays used per day by patients, the approximate dose of CBD from taking Sativex is around 20-30mg per day. They also noted a long list of studies that continue to indicate Sativex effectively reduces neuropathic pain.

CBD Research That Might Be Useful for Symptoms of MS

potencial impact research overview

Inflammation - Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice

  • Tongji University School of Medicine
  • 2013

related conditions:

Inflammation

A study of mice concluded CBD has significant anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers also saw evidence that the expression of the GPR55 receptor was improved after starting on CBD. Treatment with CBD was shown to significantly decrease the levels of several inflammation-related chemicals in test subjects.

Pain Relief - Control of pain initiation by endogenous cannabinoids

  • University of Naples Federico II
  • 1998

related conditions:

Pain Relief

Researchers concluded CBD significantly reduces discomfort and pain, in part, due to the interaction between two substances, PEA and anandamide. According to tests, they “act synergistically, reducing pain responses 100-fold more potently than each compound alone”.

Anxiety - Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, part 2: a review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidence

  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2013

related conditions:

Anxiety

A comprehensive review of all the plant-based medicine which has had both preclinical and human clinical trials conducted about their anxiolytic-like effect. An analysis of over 1500 papers identified 21 plants which had been adequately tested, with one of the most successful of these plants found to be CBD enriched Cannabis species.

MS & CBD Research Overview

CBD has grown from a niche medicine only known by a few, to a massive industry of its own in just a short period. This is because of the rising awareness and continuous research on how CBD can improve a wide range of conditions. One area with a lot of research concerning Cannabinoid extract relates to multiple sclerosis. One of the only Cannabinoid-based prescriptions in America is called Sativex and been proven to improve symptoms for those living with MS significantly.

An overview of Sativex called Sativex: clinical efficacy and tolerability in the treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain, explained how most people use the medication, as well as how much is generally taken per week. During a randomized clinical trial, researchers noted that patients had a tolerance for Sativex of up to a maximum of 130 mg THC and 120 mg CBD daily spray.

As a painful condition, anything which can regulate the pain associated with multiple sclerosis is much needed. A report called Sativex for the management of multiple sclerosis symptoms discusses how a Cannabinoid-based medicine, Sativex, can reduce pain in patients with MS. They tested over 400 people and found that the drug provided a wide range of benefits for those living with central nervous system dysfunction. It should be noted that at the moment we cannot confirm or deny the efficacy of CBD alone in providing relief for this ailment.

A different report, called Meta-analysis of cannabis-based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain, reviewed all of the available evidence on Sativex. The team concluded that CBD-based Sativex is both safe and effective in the treatment of chronic and debilitating pain associated with MS. But this should not be misconstrued as an affirmative statement that CBD alone is effective for the treatment of MS-linked pain for, based on available resources, we can either confirm or deny the efficacy of CBD as a stand-alone drug in the treatment of this condition.

Other researchers have looked into other ways in which CBD can reduce neuropathic pain. Presently, 26 Cannabinoids, including CBD, are currently used to treat symptoms of pain and spasticity in MS.

Other CBD-based medications are also looking to secure approval as a treatment for MS-related pain and discomfort. For example, Nabiximols in the treatment of spasticity, pain, and urinary symptoms due to multiple sclerosis, highlights a new medication that promises to improve pain for those living with MS. Their clinical trials suggest the drug can not only improve pain, but spasticity, and even bladder dysfunction related to MS though we cannot confirm or deny the therapeutic potency of CBD alone, without THC, in the treatment of this condition.

Even outside of specifically MS-related medications, CBD has been shown time and time again to be a significant source of pain relief for a wide range of reasons. A report called, Control of pain initiation by endogenous cannabinoids, showed CBD can reduce discomfort thanks to the interaction of PEA and anandamide, which provide powerful pain relief.

Outside of general pain and discomfort, one of the most common symptoms of MS is spasticity or tightness in the muscles and joints, making it harder to move effectively. Luckily, Sativex and other CBD-based medications have been shown to reduce the severity of spasticity in MS patients significantly.

In a randomized control trial of the effect of CBM on spasticity caused by sclerosis, researchers noted that MS spasticity-related symptoms are common and difficult to treat. They investigated the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of a standardized oromucosal whole-plant cannabis-based medicine (CBM) containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), upon spasticity in MS. After trials, the researchers conclude that CBM may represent a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of the symptomatic relief of spasticity in MS.

Another randomized control trial of CBM in central pain in MS noted that CBM was superior to placebo in reducing the mean intensity of pain and was well-tolerated. The researcher concluded that CBM is an effective pain reduction agent in patients with MS. They also noted that CBM was therapeutic to sleep disturbance in MS patients with central neuropathic pain. They also noted that it was mostly well-tolerated.

Randomized trials of Sativex, such as Sativex long-term use: an open-label trial in patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, have shown similar results. Researchers highlighted the significant pain-relieving effects of CBD, especially to control central nervous system pain and discomfort. Their data also showed a statistically relevant connection between Sativex and reduced spasticity. We note that Sativex contains both THC and CBD and its result cannot be used to confirm or deny the efficacy of CBD as a stand-alone drug.

Outside of the pain relief, and spasticity reducing power of CBD, there are still several ways in which medications Cannabis-Based Medications (CBM) are improving the lives of those suffering. A study called, Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: a role for A2A receptors showed that Sativex and most CBMs activate the Adenosine A2A receptors, which is therapeutic against MS-related inflammation.

Finally, there has been plenty of evidence that suggests CBD is a powerful anti-anxiety medication. Since anxiety is a symptom that sometimes goes along with MS, it’s nice to know that CBD is a helpful alternative. Researchers have noted 21 different substances that have been shown to provide some positive effects, and CBM is one of them of which CBD is a component.

 

Commentary by Ahmed Diab M. D.

 

“There is fair evidence that Cannabinoid extracts have a beneficial role in controlling pain and spasticity associated with MS. According to the department of health of the Australian government has released guidelines for types and dosage of these products that can help patients with MS control their symptoms.”

Best CBD for MS

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Suggested CBD Dosage for MS

Dosage Per Day

Low

70 mg

Mid

90 mg

High

120 mg

Probably the most common question we ever get involves how much CBD needs to be taken for different conditions. If things were simpler, we’d be able to provide a precise dose that works for everyone, every time. Unfortunately, things are much more complicated than that, and the only way to zero in on the right dosage is to try different things out.

However, we can still offer a solid starting point to begin experimenting. According to a report by the Department of Health Australian government, 2.5mg sprays of CBD up to 48 times per day is safe and effective in the treatment of MS symptoms.

It’s always important to remember that while CBD is legal in most places these days, that’s not the case everywhere. Some places still treat CBD and THC as essentially the same thing, making it quite illegal there. Always be sure to check the local laws before taking CBD with you on your travels.

It’s also worth noting that not all CBD products are going to be 100% THC free. Some find that a bit of THC increases the effectiveness of the medication. However, if you are unwilling or unable to get high, you need to ensure you only buy 100% CBD products.

Whichever way you decide to take CBD or track your progress, we genuinely hope you choose to leave your experiences here for someone else to learn from. Any insight provided for those just starting on their journey could be the difference between their success and failure!

 

This disclaimer informs readers that ONLY COMMENTARY expressed in this file belongs solely to Ahmed Diab, M.D., and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee, or other group or individual.

Tracking CBD Effectiveness For MS

Something a lot of people find difficult when it comes to taking CBD for the first time is understanding how it’s working for you. This happens to most people, so don’t get frustrated if you feel like you aren’t getting it right away. As a very subtle medication, when CBD is working correctly, you won’t really notice much of anything. That said, when it comes to conditions such as multiple sclerosis, the benefits provided by CBD can sometimes be life-changing.

Regardless, the best way to figure out your ideal type of CBD and dosage is to do some good old fashioned experimentation. We suggest all newcomers to CBD start keeping a small journal of their experiences. It’s truly amazing how much of a difference this simple little change can make for your understanding of the facts.

Everyone has a different system, and as such, everyone may require a slightly different ideal course of action. Some people are able to feel the effects of CBD their first time using it, while for others, it could take a few weeks of regular use for your body to become acclimated.

One of the most common questions we ever get is asking if keeping a journal is really necessary. While it’s entirely possible to get everything you want out of CBD without keeping a journal, we firmly believe nothing else will make your transition more comfortable than this simple step.

If you choose to keep track of your progress with a journal, please think about leaving your experiences here for others to learn from. Just leave a brief overview of your time using CBD, along with a score for how well it improved your pain, stiffness, and anxiety. If we work together, it will be much easier for others to find the right medication to improve their lives.

Written By
John Mace Alois is lead content creator at the Did CBD Work? project. He’s analyzed over 400 research papers related to Cannabidiol and helped publish over 55 works related to different conditions for the project. He majored in Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in English, from the University at Albany. He is an avid collector of art supplies and refurbishes old furniture in his spare time.
Reviewed By*
Ahmed Diab, M.D is a graduate of Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. Senior He is currently Senior Medical Writer at NegidaClin. He has written dozens of manuscripts for pharmaceutical enterprises. He published works also included drug safety and efficacy for those with Parkinsons Disease and a historical analysis of the performance of prostheses in femoral neck fractures.

*The information contained here does not constitute medical recommendations. Ahmed Diab does not recommend a certain dosage or a certain indication for any of our products. Please consult your personal physician before using any product.

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