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Multiple Sclerosis and Cannabis

Treating Multiple Sclerosis with Cannabis

The Efficacy of Cannabis on Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Research continues on patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in an effort to gain a better understanding of how effective medical marijuana may be in relieving the debilitating effects of the disease. MS is a particularly difficult neurological disease to treat as current pharmaceutical medications cause numerous side effects that produce their own list of symptoms. Chief among them are muscle ache, fatigue, fever and chills. Patients also may experience allergic reactions, joint pain, headaches and lethargy. The Illinois cannabis laws are very specific. As lawmakers fight on behalf of sufferers, it becomes more important to support the argument that Illinois dispensary practices should include MS as one of the qualifying conditions benefiting from medical marijuana.

An Overview of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is classified as a long-lasting autoimmune disease affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves in the body. Symptoms of the disease, which can appear between the ages of 20 and 40, are the result of the body mistaking the protective myelin coating of the nerve fibers for a foreign body that must be attacked. This breakdown of the body’s protective insulation means the signals being sent to the brain also breakdown. While doctors cannot say in all certainty what causes the disease, there is speculation as to what makes the condition more likely for some than others. Among these potential causes are:

  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to viral infections
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Diagnosing the Disease

As there is not one specific test that determines if a person has the disease, doctors rely on a series of test results for diagnosing MS, such as:

  • Blood Tests
  • A check on balance and coordination
  • MRI
  • fMRI
  • Tests to measure electrical activity in the brain
  • Analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

The wide-ranging symptoms are mild to moderate or severe depending on the stage of the illness. Patients learn the treatments and exercises they can do that best ease the symptoms of:

  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Poor bladder control
  • Poor vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Poor memory
  • Depression

Treatment – Including the Use of Illinois Marijuana
Doctors currently tend to prescribe disease modifying drugs such as steroids or hormones that may help to treat or prevent attacks from either relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive MS. Since there is no cure, the drugs are intended to ease symptoms and help to manage the resulting stress the disease causes. As of yet, there is no effective treatment for primary progressive MS.

In research studies as well as among patients who have decided to use cannabis for the purpose of easing the severity of such symptoms as muscle stiffness, spasms, frequent urination and pain, there have been positive results. As medical marijuana does not improve mental cognition, it has not been as useful for patients struggling with mental focus and memory loss. Further studies are ongoing. In the meantime, the Illinois marijuana law provides that an ongoing doctor/patient relationship is sufficient for the physician to prescribe cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of MS.

For more information visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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