Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease (a disease of the nervous system, where the myelin sheath of the neurons is damaged) that affects more than two million people worldwide. The symptoms of MS typically include pain, fatigue, inflammation, muscle spasticity, and even depression. This difficult to manage spectrum of symptoms usually leads to reduced physical activity for the MS patient, with one consequence being a general lowering of the patients’ quality of life. As yet, we have no treatment that can cure or stop multiple sclerosis or limits MS-related symptoms. As a result, many patients with MS have turned to CBD use as a complementary therapy and a way of managing these problematic symptoms and even possibly improving their quality of life. Is there any evidence that supports the use of CBD for multiple sclerosis? Our CBD101 guide takes a look at the available research.
CBD for MS symptom management
Although not recognized by mainstream science as a cure or even a palliative for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, some evidence seems to suggest that CBD may be able to ease the symptoms of MS, these findings are still preliminary, and much of this evidence is still being investigated. Nevertheless, we can tell you that some surveys seem to indicate that cannabis use, in general, is on the rise in MS patients.
One study surveyed a group of registrants anonymously in an online webinar. Approximately half of the group of around 1000 registrants responded in the affirmative to the question: Have you used marijuana in the past year to help control your MS symptoms? The high percentage of reported use in this survey suggests that the use of cannabis for treating the symptoms of MS may be more prevalent than previously believed. However, this study did not make the distinction between using THC and CBD for MS symptom treatment.
A Danish study published in 2019 surveyed multiple sclerosis patients in Denmark and found that cannabis use was common among Danish MS patients, with almost half of the respondents (49%) reporting that they had used it at least once, and around half that number (21%) reporting that they had used it at least once in the previous year. The principal reasons for its use among respondents was for pain relief (61%), spasticity (52%), and sleep disturbances (46%). However, this group also reported adverse effects: Drowsiness (30%), feeling subdued (23%), and dizziness (13%). Approximately half (44%) of the non-cannabis users reported that they would consider cannabis to alleviate their symptoms of MS if the drug was made legal in Denmark. Although the study, too, did not distinguish between using THC or CBD for MS, it does suggest that users had benefited in some way from cannabis use, in general.
From the above studies, it seems that cannabis use is possibly more prevalent among MS patients than one might suspect, with the majority using it to treat unpleasant symptoms of the disease. Along with this is the interesting finding that many patients who don’t use it because of its illegal status (illegal) would consider its use if its legal status was to change (and become legal).
A small body of evidence is starting to form around some of the uses for which MS patients have intuitively started using cannabis. One clinical trial from 2019 made the following bold conclusion, “Cannabis-based medicine is effective in reducing pain and sleep disturbance in patients with multiple sclerosis-related central neuropathic pain and is mostly well tolerated.” For the FDA, at least one study does not a conclusion make, and it seems clear that more work will need to be done in the realm of multiple sclerosis to ascertain if cannabis, and indeed, CBD in particular, is of benefit to MS patients. However, the intersection of this study’s conclusions that CBD was useful to this group, especially for pain management and helping with sleep disturbances, seems to dovetail nicely with other research into both pain, and sleep and a favorable outcome with the use of CBD.
For now, we will have to wait for the researchers to report back on CBD for MS and whether it can help multiple sclerosis patients effectively manage the complex set of symptoms that they face. However, before considering a product like Soulsome’s cold-pressed CBD oil for complimentary assistance with the symptoms of MS, we would strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor or healthcare professional who is well-placed to offer advice and insight into using CBD for your particular case, as well as any possible adverse reactions that may occur using CBD with other drugs prescribed for MS.