Marijuana and MS: How to Manage Multiple Sclerosis with Medical Marijuana
Though no registry for multiple sclerosis exists in the United States, recent estimates say one million people have MS in the United States.
Individuals with MS suffer greatly from this widely spread neurological disease. Recent studies are proving that medical marijuana can alleviate their suffering.
Keep reading to learn the connection between marijuana and MS.
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis is the most widely spread neurological disease in the United States. You probably even know someone with it.
MS affects the central processing unit of your body: your brain. Because your brain controls so much, MS causes multiple symptoms: painful muscle spasms, tremors, loss of motor control, blurred vision, mental fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
MS is most common in younger people, with a diagnosis occurring between age 16 and 55. The fact that a sixteen-year-old can lose the major function of her body makes this disease the most frustrating and sad.
How Does MS Work?
With MS, the body’s immune system starts attacking the central nervous system.
White blood cells, the masters of your immune system, creep into the white matter surrounding blood vessels. They then destroy the myelin sheath that protects and insulates neurons.
Picture an electrical wire coated with a plastic covering. The myelin sheath is that plastic covering over your neurons. When the white blood cells infiltrate it, they cause lesions, and the neurons begin to deteriorate.
The myelin, or the plastic tubing that you picture, helps direct the electrical signal of your neurons. It makes the signal strong and fast. Without it, the signal slows down or doesn’t go at all.
You need that myelin, that covering, for your nervous system to function properly. The erosion of the myelin causes inflammation and physical and cognitive impairments. Your brain just does not work efficiently.
As a result, MS patients cannot function efficiently because their neurons are not firing quickly.
Marijuana and MS
MS sucks the life out of you. You suffer from random muscle spasms, pain, and brain inflammation. You cannot think straight.
But marijuana can help. Its neurological properties are proving repeatedly that marijuana can help those who suffer from MS. It can alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of this disease.
The research goes back to those neurons that MS is attacking.
How the Brain and Marijuana Work
You have a system in your body called the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are special cannabinoids that act like a dimmer switch.
Here’s how neurotransmitters work.
Your neurons typically send signals after being stimulated. These are called postsynaptic neurons because they work after they’re stimulated.
Endocannabinoids, however, work with presynaptic neurons.
The postsynaptic neuron is activated. It sends endocannabinoids “backward” up the axon and toward the presynaptic neuron. So the endocannabinoid acts like a dimmer switch, controlling which neurotransmitters the presynaptic neuron releases.
Thus the endocannabinoid system regulates the nervous system. It mediates which neural impulses and neurotransmitters the nervous system receives and sends. MS patients suffer because of the misfiring of these neurons.
Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that determines how the immune system functions. MS sufferers do not produce enough anandamide.
Marijuana reintroduces cannabinoids to the system along with their inherent properties. It brings back in what is going haywire for MS patients. In particular, marijuana helps in the following areas.
An MS sufferer’s brain is often inflamed. As a result, an individual with MS reports foggy brain, forgetfulness, and just the inability to process. They cannot think straight.
Furthermore, MS leads to neural degeneration. The neurons begin to die. This leads to further damage to the body.
Cannabinoids are powerful anti-inflammatories. They regulate the immune system that is attacking the brain. And essentially, they treat MS.
MS patients suffer from muscle spasms. Their brain signals cause their muscles to twitch and spasm out of control. Studies are now showing cannabinoids can control muscle tone.
The increased muscle tone will reduce the severity and frequency of spasticity and tremors. Scientists are continually exploring the ways that marijuana can help with the muscle spasms that cause incontinence as well.
Most people know that marijuana dulls the pain of just about anything. MS sufferers, in particular, can benefit from the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of marijuana.
To understand how marijuana dulls pain, we have to go back to the brain and those receptors.
Glycine receptors regulate the way that pain receptors signal the spinal cord and brain. Cannabinoids help control how those glycine receptors work. So patients who take marijuana begin to see reduced pain because of how the cannabinoids work on glycine receptors.
Best of all, cannabinoids are non-addictive. They have minimal side effects. Patients also do not build up a tolerance like with other pain meds, so they do not need increasing doses.
The body works as one big machine. Physical, mental, and behavioral health connect to one another.
Physical pain can cause problems with mental health. This is especially true with MS patients. The chronic pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation lead to depression and anxiety.
Half of the people with MS suffer from depression. When marijuana alleviates pain, it allows an MS patient to focus on mental health. Thus marijuana can help alleviate the depression caused by MS.
The symptoms of MS stem from neural degeneration. The immune system is attacking the sheath over the neurons. So if scientists could find a way to stop that attack or to rebuild the neurons, they’d be very close to finding a cure.
Recent science is showing cannabinoids can protect neurons and help with the creation of new neural cells.
It can significantly slow the progression of MS.
With all of these benefits, an MS patient may want to just light a joint and start smoking. But to receive the maximum effect, you need the right dosage. Consult a physician for the best dosage recommendation.
Weed and MS
Now that you know about how marijuana and MS work, you can fully understand the benefits of medical marijuana. It’s not just a joint. It’s a huge help.
For more information on how medical marijuana can help you, contact us.