Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that disrupts cell communication. Cells communicate with each other via electrical signals that pass through the neuron and are protected and conducted by myelin, a fatty substance surrounding the axon. During MS attacks, the body’s immune system attacks the myelin, slowing action potential, causing pain, inflammation and motor difficulty. While these attacks do not last indefinitely, the remyelination process that occurs afterward do not fully heal the cells, leading to the lasting cell communication problems associated with MS. An estimated 23000 Australians suffer from MS and currently no cure.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids are thought to improve remyelination by protecting repair cells and reducing the inflammatory response. Symptoms such as poor sleep, spasticity and pain have been reported to improve with cannabinoid therapy.
Medication for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
Immunotherapy medications are designed to slow the frequency and severity of attacks. Regularly prescribed for people with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis. These medications are taken subcutaneously (under the skin), or intramuscular / intravenous injection, or orally by mouth.
Corticosteroids – these are taken as pills or as an injection. These medications help shorten the duration of an attack by easing the level of inflammation.
Treatment for specific symptoms of MS
Muscle problems – some medications may be prescribed to ease muscle problems like stiffness and tremors.
Fatigue – some medications used to treat narcolepsy can help control MS-related fatigue in some patients
Neurological symptoms – medications are available to help with the visual disturbances, including steroids
Continence – continence problems may require medications, continence aids and certain dietary alterations
Neuropsychological problems – medications for depression or anxiety
Typical side effects of MS treatment may include:
Skin irritation at the site of injection
Medical Cannabis Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
Clinical studies have shown that cannabis is effective in providing relief from many of the symptoms associated with MS. There have been a few studies providing evidence that suggests cannabinoids may even inhibit the progression of the disease.
Improvement in Spasticity.
Survey’s of the Australian population show that 13%–33% of the adult population have consistent issues either getting to sleep or staying asleep. It has been found that around 50% of patients who suffer from depression have comorbid insomnia. Sleep disturbances coupled with depression are, the first and third most common psychological reasons for a patient to seek out medical advice.
Muscle spasms and stiffness cause a lot of pain. Medical cannabis has been known to relieve nerve pain in patients suffering from MS.
Being in pain and having discomfort will make it hard for anyone to sleep. Medical Cannabis delivers a patient the calm necessary to fall asleep, while alleviating any pain, causing restlessness.
Medical cannabis has been proposed to ease the spasms related with MS that has you racing to the bathroom with great frequency.
Reduction of Inflammation
Chemical compounds found in cannabis were studied in mice with MS-like symptoms and reported in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology to prevent inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.
“Our study looks at how compounds isolated from marijuana can be used to regulate inflammation to protect the nervous system and its functions.” says Dr. Ewa Kozela of Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Dr. Kozela and colleagues main mission in this study was to analyse and compare the anti-inflammatory properties of 2 compounds within medical cannabis. With either THC or CBD, the researchers were able to treat immune cells that were specifically targeted to harm the brain and spinal cord. Immune cells that responded to both the THC and the CBD cannabinoid produced fewer inflammatory molecules. One molecule called Interleukin 17 has been associated with Multiple Sclerosis and is considered extremely harmful to nerve cells and their insulated covers. Having a presence of CBD or THC assists in restraining the immune cells, prohibiting their production of inflammatory molecules. There is also a limitation in the molecules ability to reach and damage the brain and the spinal cord.
Cannabidiol is the most plentiful and potent cannabinoid in cannabis, the Tel Aviv University researchers admit. CBD strikes them with much interest due to its medicinal benefit accessible without the necessity of mind-altering effects, prevalent of THC.
In a 2011 study, this same team of researchers was able to show CBD at work, treating mice with MS Symptoms. CBD proved its power in preventing immune cells attacking the nerve cells in the spinal cord.
One of the largest studies to investigate the effects of cannabinoids on MS patients was a randomized clinical trial (RCT) involving 667 patients from 33 medical centers within the UK. The subjects were assigned to one of three groups:
1) synthetic THC (Marinol®)
2) whole cannabis extract (Cannador®),
Within the 15 week trial period and 12-month follow-up, it was conclusive that the patients who given cannabinoid-based medicine, reported improvements in their symptoms of spasticity, spasms, pain levels and sleep quality.
Pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms of MS. It remains a challenge to treat patients with traditional medications available. Evidently it was expected that the patients who were given cannabinoid-based drugs reported significant pain relief. Studies have proven cannabis to be an effective analgesic. Medical cannabis is especially therapeutic for MS patients who suffer from “neuropathic pain”. Studies have shown that cannabis is highly efficient and most likely more effective at treating neuropathic pain than currently prescribed pharmaceuticals.
Cannabis is certainly successful in multiple sclerosis treatments, but further testing will determine if it has the capability of curing MS. In animal models, there have been studies that seem to show that cannabinoids can protect neurons from degeneration and ultimately slow the progression of the disease.
Researchers from the University College of London’s Institute of Neurology concluded:
“…in addition to symptom management, cannabis may also slow the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis and probably other diseases.”
Another study published by Spanish researchers concluded with a similar finding. As we are only in the early stages of clinical research, we anticipate there will be more information surfacing in due time.
What is Multiple Sclerosis? (MS)
- Autoimmune disorder – affects the brain and spinal cord
- Neurological disability in young people is most often caused by MS
- Symptoms of the disease are clear when the body’s own immune system begins to attack itself., damaging the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is what helps the nerve cells conduct nerve signals
- MS is a result of the inability of nerve cells to communicate with each other
- Physical, cognitive, disability can eventually result from Multiple Sclerosis
- Multiple Sclerosis or MS is also known as disseminated sclerosis or encephalomyelitis disseminate.
Causes of Multiple Sclerosis
The current theory is that the disease appears in those individuals who have a genetic predisposition though it is not genetically transmitted in the same way our hair or eye colour gets passed on to our children. While several different viruses and bacteria have been researched for their possible role in causing MS, the triggers are still yet to be identified. Anyone may develop MS, but there are some patterns. More than twice as many women as men are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It occurs more commonly among people that have northern European ancestry.
Wrongly programmed (damaged) immune cells enter the CNS and cause inflammation in the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. The inflammation causes damage to the protective myelin coating around the nerve cells. This produces scars (also called plaques or lesions) that interfere with nerve transmission.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
- Cognitive Impairments
- Poor Mobility and Balance
- Vision Problems
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Urinary Incontinence
- Tingling and Numbness (pins and needles)
Statistics: Population diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in Australia
- t is estimated that over 23,000 people in Australia have MS
- Additionally another 1,000 Australians are diagnosed with MS every year, which works out to approximately four people every working day
- 2.5 million people are living with MS worldwide
Clinical Studies / References: