Multiple Sclerosis is a disease affecting the brain and spinal cord; the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms. Disease onset usually occurs in young adults, and it is more common in females. It has a prevalence that ranges between 2 and 150 per 100,000.
Early symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle stiffness
- Thinking problems
- Urinary problems
No one knows what causes multiple sclerosis and there is no cure, but treatment can manage and relieve symptoms. Treatments attempt to return function after an attack, prevent new attacks, and prevent disability.
MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other. Nerve cells communicate by sending electrical signals called action potentials down long fibers called axons, which are wrapped in an insulating substance called myelin. In MS, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals. The name multiple sclerosis refers to scars (scleroses—better known as plaques or lesions) in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord, which is mainly composed of myelin.
MS medications can have adverse effects or be poorly tolerated, and many patients pursue alternative treatments, despite the lack of supporting scientific study.
At Università degli Studi di Salerno in Italy, a study was conducted to determine whether cannabinoids would have a positive impact on multiple sclerosis symptoms. The study abstract states, “Several studies suggest that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids may have a key role in the pathogenesis and therapy of multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study we highlight the main findings reported in literature about the relevance of cannabinoid drugs in the management and treatment of MS. An increasing body of evidence suggests that cannabinoids have beneficial effects on the symptoms of MS, including spasticity and pain. In this report we focus on the effects of cannabinoids in the relief of spasticity describing the main findings in vivo, in the mouse experimental allergic encephalomyelitis model of MS.” They recognize that long-term studies are necessary to establish whether cannabinoids have further therapeutic value beyond just mitigating symptoms.