Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that involves the demyelination of nerves of the central nervous system. These nerves are covered in a protective sheath, called myelin; much like the plastic sheath around an electrical wire. In MS, the sheaths become inflamed and damaged, leaving the underlying nerve exposed and vulnerable to scarring (plaques).  The plaques create a “short circuit” in the nerve, which results in a dysfunctional transmission. It affects some 350,000 people in the U.S. and 2 million worldwide, and occurs most commonly in young adults.  Women have a 1 in 200 lifetime risk and are more affected than men.

Patients feel a variety of symptoms, including weakness, stiffness, tremors, spasticity, numbness, dizziness, heat sensitivity, blurred vision, bowel and urinary dysfunction and fatigue. The cause of the demyelination in MS is still unknown. The dominant theoretical model involves an experimental autoimmune “allergic” encephalomyelitis (EAE). In this model T cells specific for myelin antigens induce inflammation. The immune system reacts in the attack on nerves by one’s own macrophage cells. Theories behind the inflammation include a combination of genetic predisposition, viral triggers, and toxic exposures.   The clinical course of MS involves periods of exacerbation and periods of remission. The goal of treatment is to promote remissions, reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms to optimize the quality of life.

 

Standard medical treatments:

Corticosteroids

Interferon

Antispasmodic drugs – Baclofen, Clonazepam

Physical therapy

Exercise

Water exercise

 

Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional – avoid food allergens, especially gluten

Raw food cleansing diet

Low fat diet

Fish oil / flax oil – anti-inflammatory

Lecithin – for nerve renewal

Glutathione infusions – strong antioxidant

Homeopathy

Acupuncture

Chiropractic

Massage

Remove heavy metals

Electromagnetic therapy

 

Multiple Sclerosis and Cannabis

A large study of 630 patients published  in 2003 found no objective evidence of a treatment effect on muscle spasticity.  However, significantly more participants taking either cannabis oil or THC reported subjective improvements in spasticity, spasms, sleep and pain, but not tremor or bladder symptoms.  The implication of these studies is that marijuana makes patients feel better, even if doesn’t show any objective improvement. A later British study gave some more promising information.  Walking times before and during treatment were obtained from 278 participants; The group taking THC had improved walking time. There was no improvement on any other another mobility test.  Also, investigators noted there were fewer relapses in the cannabis treatment groups. More recently studies using Sativex, a standardized cannabis medicine showed reduced spasticity in MS patients. MS patients can sometimes reduce their need for Baclofen with cannabis use.