Treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) With CBD: What You Need To Know

It is estimated that over 2.8 million people suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) around the world. While there are milder forms of this multiple sclerosis, This autoimmune disease can significantly affect the mobility, overall health and quality of life of those who suffer from it—especially in the long-term.  


While there exists available drug treatments to slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis and to appease its symptoms, the general trade off are intense side effects, which make drug treatments very difficult for patients to go through, and what leads many to turn to milder, less affecting alternatives such as CBD (cannabidiol). Recent clinical studies and research have shown that CBD can be an effective and natural aid to manage multiple sclerosis with little to no side effects. Read this article for more. 

What is multiple sclerosis (MS) 

According to a National Multiple Sclerosis Society (or National MS Society) study, nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with multiple sclerosis. Canada has an estimated 90,000 people living with this illness, and is the country with one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is one of the most common causes of disability in young adults. 


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system and particularly the spinal cord. It is a lifelong, chronic illness that also affects the optic nerves and the brain. MS causes the immune system to attack the myelin sheath that protects the body’s nerve fibers. This causes inflammation of the myelin which alters nerve impulses, leading to numerous issues and linked to many other symptoms, which progressively worsen over time. 


Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary in intensity from person to person. Most commonly, these are: 


Impaired mobility (ex. difficulty walking) 
Impaired vision (ex. blurred vision) 
Tingling sensations in different parts of the body 
Numbness in the limbs 
Uncontrolled muscle spasms (known as spasticity) 
Chronic pain of varying intensity 
Issues with coordination and/or balance 


Multiple sclerosis symptoms can appear without warning at any age, but the disease tends to get diagnosed around the 20s and 30s. It should be noted, however, that the disease is sometimes asymptomatic in some people for a long time before symptoms become noticeable. 


To date, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, MS is not a death sentence and most people diagnosed with this illness have a normal or close to normal life expectancy.  


Treatments exist and can be prescribed by medical professionals to relieve the symptoms or slow down the progression of the disease. Usually, this consists of regular use of steroids (corticosteroids), intravenously or orally—the most commonly prescribed steroid being methylprednisolone. Steroid therapy is usually supplemented with rehabilitation therapy and therapeutic exercises.  


The issues with prescribed drugs like steroids, especially over a long period of time, is that they can sometimes cause undesirable side effects, such as: 


  1. Fatigue 
  2. Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sore throat) 
  3. Nausea and vomiting 
  4. Sleep issues 
  5. Liver issues 
  6. Osteoporosis 
  7. Depression, anxiety and/or paranoia  
  8. Increased blood pressure 
  9. Skin reactions and/or acne

CBD to help treat multiple sclerosis (MS) 

According to a survey by the Multiple Sclerosis Society in the UK, one in five patients diagnosed with MS said they used cannabis or hemp derived products to help manage their MS.  


Currently, medically-approved Sativex is approved on the NHS as a cannabis based treatment to help with MS-related muscle spascity, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, Sativex is not approved on the NHS in Scotland. Sativex, being a THC and CBD derived product, is also approved in Canada. 


While THC is an illegal substance in many countries, there exists a wealth of other CBD alternatives available, which have all of the medicinal benefits for patients but without the intoxicating properties of THC.


What is CBD? 

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the most prevalent compounds found in the cannabis plant (hemp). Cannabis compounds are known as cannabinoids. There are over a hundred cannabinoids found in cannabis, including well-known THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but CBD has no psychotropic effect—meaning that it won’t get you high—and is not addictive.  


CBD is a substance known for its therapeutic qualities, in particular its effectiveness in alleviating pain and soreness associated with several diseases including multiple sclerosis.  


Even if derived from cannabis or hemp, CBD in its pure form is not classified as a drug and is legal in most countries, including around Europe. THC is an illegal and intoxicating substance, so it is important to search for CBD products that have little to no traces of THC in them. 

How CBD helps alleviate symptoms 

While CBD (cannabidiol) cannot cure multiple sclerosis (MS), it can help improve its symptoms and, subsequently, the patient’s general health and quality of life. 

CBD for pain relief 

Almost all multiple sclerosis patients suffer from chronic pain of varying intensity. In most cases, conventional medicines are unable to relieve all symptoms without causing side effects. CBD, on the other hand, has anti-inflammatory properties that help with pain relief without serious side effects.  

CBD to reduced anxiety and improve sleep 

It is not uncommon for patients with multiple sclerosis to suffer from sleep issues—mostly sleep disturbances caused by pain. Anxiety can also be present, which can be a cause of bad sleep quality or can cause sleep issues (a bad cycle). In addition to helping regulate sleep, CBD promotes the production of serotonin, which can help alleviate anxiety.

Other notable benefits of CBD 

Research and studies show that CBD can have other positive impacts that help with symptom management of multiple sclerosis, including:

  1. Improved cognitive and motor performance 
  2. Reduced muscle spasticity 
  3. Increased feeling of well-being (happiness)  

Ideal CBD dosage 

Everybody responds differently to things, CBD included. While there is no precise dosage to prescribe when it comes to CBD, medical health professionals do often recommend starting with a minimum dose of 25 mg to 30 mg per day. It is then possible for patients to increase CBD dose gradually until they observe improvements. It should be noted that, in general, an overdose of CBD is extremely unlikely and not dangerous. It is also important to seek out quality CBD products.

Ideal form of CBD 

CBD oil is the most recommended type of CBD product for multiple sclerosis. CBD oils come in various concentrations of CBD and also are a purer form of CBD (with little THC) compared to other types of CBD cannabis (hemp) products. It is also easier to use to control the dose when taking CBD oil. CBD oil is best administered under the tongue (sublingually), a few drops at a time. The effects usually act within about 20 minutes and can last between 3 to 9 hours.  


It’s also possible to opt for CBD flowers, which can be inhaled via vaporisation. However, CBD flowers tend to contain higher traces of THC than oils, so it is less recommended.   

Side effects related CBD 

Very rarely do CBD and CBD oils cause side effects, except in the case of intolerances (which is also rare). That said, it is always advised to speak to a medical professional before taking CBD in any form, in case CBD could interact with other prescribed medicines patients take.

Key takeaways 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a life-long, autoimmune disease characterised by inflammation of the myelin sheath that protects the body’s nerves. There is at the moment no cure for MS. However, there exist many treatments to help manage and alleviate symptoms. As many prescribed drug treatments come with heavy side effects, patients turn to more natural solutions to treat MS, such as CBD. According to medical research and studies, cannabis or hemp derived CBD acts more gently on the body, helping relieve pain and alleviate muscle spasticity with little to no side effects. In addition, CBD has been shown to regulate sleep and help combat anxiety, which are often linked to MS. The most recommended best form of CBD to use for MS is high-quality, pure CBD oil, for which patients have higher dosage control with. 

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