MS and MJ
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disabling neurological disease that affects many adults in the northern latitudes of the country. The disease is progressive in nature, with the symptoms resulting from an autoimmune mechanism where the body attacks the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is a highway between the brain and our muscles and organs; it allows for correct signaling between the two so that our body can function appropriately. When a person has MS, this highway is attacked, like a road getting potholes. These potholes cause disruption in the signaling pathway resulting in the symptoms of MS, which range from changes in vision, pain, muscle spasticity, and bladder dysfunction. Spasticity or stiffness occurs frequently in patients with MS and especially so as the disease progresses and is often associated with pain and reduced mobility. There are some medications used to specifically treat these muscle spasms, unfortunately, these medications have not shown much improvement in symptoms.
In order to appropriately treat this symptom, researchers have turned to medical marijuana. A study from the European Journal of Neurology compared a pharmaceutically produced form of marijuana, Sativex, to a sugar pill. This study included 572 participants who showed significant improvement in symptoms using the marijuana compared to a sugar pill. 74% of these participants also showed functional improvement in addition to their pain and spasticity relief. A second study compared an extract of cannabis to a sugar pill, with similar results. This study included 279 participants and those who received the cannabis extract showed drastic improvement compared to those who were only receiving the sugar pill. These studies indicate that marijuana can appropriately be used to treat symptoms of MS that cannot be medically managed otherwise.
Patients with MS are often left without options for treatment as their disease progresses, which can substantially limit their quality of life. In order to meet these patients needs, medical marijuana should be used. This treatment is low risk, however there is high benefit to be gained.