Living with Multiple Sclerosis
Imagine having to take a prescription cocktail recipe that included: disease-modifying therapies (Immunosuppressants), relapse management therapies, symptom management therapies and experimental treatments.
These pills can easily climb to twenty or thirty pills a day, an example could be: benzodiazepines for anxiety, opiates for pain, stimulants; to counteract the effects of the sedative medications, corticosteroids to counteract nerve inflammation, ocrelizumab (Ocrevus); the only medication approved for multiple sclerosis (MS) in the US, immunosuppressants, which; as the name implies, suppresses your immune system and the list goes on and on.
This horror show of pills and even more pills is the life of a person with MS. Being diagnosed can be devastating; causing lifelong progressively debilitating damage to the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (nerves in the limbs) nervous systems.
What Does Science Say?
There have been few sanctioned studies in regards to cannabis and MS; however, the studies that have been done have shown that cannabis usage with MS have helped the symptomatology of this debilitating disease.
Studies involving cannabis in Canada have all found benefits to the usage of this flower. Some of the benefits of these Canadian studies conclude are: helping with depression, insomnia and fatigue, cognitive function, helping with muscle spasticity, including bladder.
As legalization approaches in Canada, we will be allowed to fully explore the medicinal effects of cannabis in regards to MS and a variety of other illnesses. This will allow for many breakthroughs in research and a wider population base in which to compare the positive and negative effects of the flower.
The evidence is mounting in multiple studies that cannabis, more specifically THC and CBD; help relieve the muscle spasticity associated with MS. THC and CBD have also been found to help with the pain associated with MS; as well as, sleep disturbances, inflammatory related conditions, muscle spasms, abdominal complaints, overactive bladder, it protects the brain and optic nerve, depression, anxiety and/or other mood disturbances.
How Should I Take It?
Doctors tend to shy away from recommending smoking in any form; as smoking is harmful to the lungs. Luckily, there are many other ways to ingest cannabis. Whether you chose edibles (please see our guide on edibles), vaping (my personal favourite), dabbing (another form of vaping concentrates) and even topically (including sublingual and rectal).
Where Can I Get it?
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What Strains do I Use?
There are countless strains out there and different strains help with different symptoms.
Typically, indica plants are short, bushy plants with wide leaves. Indica plants typically grow faster and have a higher yield than the sativa variety. Medicine produced from indica plants have higher CBD and lower THC counts.
The major qualities of indica medicinal strains include:
- increased mental relaxation
- muscle relaxation
- decreases nausea
- decreases acute pain
- increases appetite
- increases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers)
- for night time use
Examples of Nearly Pure Indicas
Sativa plants are opposite of the Indica strains and grow tall and thin with narrow leaves. Sativa plants are also generally a lighter shade of green then their counterpart, the indica strain. Sativa strains take longer to grow, mature, and require more light. Medicine produced from sativa plants have lower CBD and higher THC counts.
The major qualities of sativa medicinal strains include:
- treats chronic pain
- increases focus and creativity
- increases serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of learning, mood, sleep, anxiety and appetite)
- for day time use
Examples of Nearly Pure Sativas
Hybrid strains contain a mix of sativa and indica genetics and depending on their lineage, can take on characteristics from both strain families.
These are the strains that someone with MS should focus on; they can help with many symptomologies simultaneously.
Some Examples of Quality Hybrids:
Indica Dominant Hybrids:
Sativa Dominant Hybrids:
What Are the Risks?
Marijuana has some side effects and long-term risks. They’re the same whether you use it for fun or as medicine.
In the short term, you could have:
- Increased heart rate
- Slowed reaction time
- Coordination and balance problems
- Dry Mouth
- Dry Eyes
If you use medical marijuana every day, you may get problems like:
- Trouble doing complex thinking or a ‘mental fogginess’
- Mood swings
Can I Get Addicted?
Most people who use marijuana, like most people who use alcohol, do not develop problems with addiction; however, it could be a possibility for some.
About 2% of adults and about 9% of young people who use marijuana become addicted; however, it is not a physical addiction like with opiates or other addictive pharmaceutical chemicals. It is a physiological addiction; in which, the user becomes reliant on the natural flower as a coping mechanism for normal life situations.