So much is said about CBD that it might be hard to discern fact from fiction. Many companies are more concerned about selling their products than in telling you the truth about what CBD can do, and more importantly, what science says about it.
Many people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are currently using CBD products to help with their symptoms and speaking out about their experiences. There appear to be many reasons why the chronic symptoms associated with MS may be alleviated. In order to fully explore the truth, and separate the fiction, we’ll need to explore exactly what MS is, how it progresses, and also understand what CBD is and how it impacts the body. We’ll explain the Endocannabinoid System and teach you how it affects homeostasis within the body.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is an autoimmune disease with no known cure. It has a negative impact on the myelin sheaths that surround nerves in the body’s central nervous system. Over time, the myelin gets destroyed from the white blood cells attacking it like it was an intruder. Eventually the areas attacked cause a great deal of discomfort because whatever the damaged nerve is attached to either fails to perform at 100%, degrades overtime and eventually ceases to function. In time, loss of fine motor skills is common and many patients will end-up in wheelchairs as they gradually lose the ability to walk.
Common symptoms of MS include:
- Cognitive Problems – Many suffer from memory issues, feeling in a fog, and having great difficulty with focusing on tasks at hand. Reading a book may become more problematic as the focus is just not what it used to be. Studying is hard, writing a long letter may be harder for someone with MS. Forgetfulness may make it hard to remember to pay bills, miss appointments and much more. It can become more difficult to speak and gather thoughts. People with MS may speak much slower.
- Vision Issues – The optic nerve can be impacted when the MS attacks the myelin of that nerve. It can lead to burning and red eyes, infections in the eyes, vision loss, dark spots in the vision, inability to see in full color, and sometimes a total loss of vision in one or both eyes.
- Chronic Fatigue – Lassitude is the name given to the specific sort of exhaustion that is unique to MS sufferers. This fatigue can be from physical activity; from simple, everyday tasks or it can be from mental fatigue that is quite frequently associated with depression. Lassitude also becomes worse from heat or humidity and can cause exhaustion as soon as someone with MS gets out of bed from a long night of sleep.
- Sensitivity to Heat – High temperatures actually impact the ability of the demyelinated nerve tissue to conduct signals. This can dramatically impact those with MS by worsening their symptoms when they are exposed to heat and humidity. Once inside in air conditioning, these symptoms typically subside. It may also impact someone with MS who becomes ill and incurs a fever. Lowering the fever will reduce symptom flares.
- Sexual Dysfunction/Issues – Arousal and orgasm may be directly impacted by nerve damage. Men can especially be impacted, having difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
- Pain – Those with MS may experience phantom pain that comes and goes. Sharp stabbing pain in the in the legs, hands, and feet, for example, may begin for no apparent reason and stop just as suddenly. Spastic muscles are a common issue and back pain or musculoskeletal pain may be the end result.
- Issues with Fine Motor Skills – MS can have an impact on the way someone with MS moves, writes, cooks, etc. Tremors and muscle weakness can be a problem and may range from very mild to extreme, making it impossible to write their own names.
- Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction – It may become necessary to wear adult pads due to incontinence that is the result of the loss of muscle function which controls the bladder. It may be impossible to hold urine in the bladder or to completely empty the bladder, which also requires muscles to squeeze the bladder. Bowel incontinence is also an issue. The muscles of the midsection of the body move the bowels and hold the bowels. When muscle loss is experienced, bowel leaking can be an issue.
Symptoms and their severity will be unique to each person. While one person may have extreme tremors, the next person may be able to function with a sense of normalcy for the most part. It’s important to understand that this is a progressive disease that continues to eat away at the myelin sheathing.
Over time, most with MS will lose their ability to walk and begin losing fine motor skills until the disease progresses to their total dependence on someone else to even be fed. It is not a kind disease by any means, as it gradually robs people of their independence and their dignity.
How Does CBD Help?
The cannabis plant contains roughly 100 cannabinoids. More are being discovered at every juncture and they all seem to play a role in health. CBD and THC are the most common cannabinoids but they are in different concentrations in hemp and marijuana, respectively. In hemp, THC is in far smaller concentrations (.03% or less). THC is so low in you cannot get high from taking them. To be clear, there is absolutely no psychoactive impact on the brain from taking CBD.
CBD and the tiny amount of THC, combined with the other cannabinoids in full-spectrum CBD products, are believed to have a very therapeutic effect on the body. There is evidence, according to a paper published in Frontiers in Neurology, entitled Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis, “It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective.”
A neuroprotective means that as CBD molecules travel through the body, they travel within the neural pathways and nerve tissue. They particularly travel in the spinal column and as they travel, they coat the pathways with a protective coat that is much like armor. This protects that tissue from damage which very well may help protect myelin from attacks at the hands of MS.
Under a research study, it was determined that the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature remained unaffected by using CBD. This is a plus for those with MS, as we have already established that MS symptoms become worse if a fever spikes or the body temperature is raised in any way. This information has been determined after over 132 research studies on the impact of CBD on MS.
When taken at higher doses per day, those with MS may see relief from the memory impairment and the depression that they sometimes deal with as a part of MS. Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology Information believes that on the basis of the research studies, CBD can indirectly increase mobility for MS patients by positively impacting pain, spasticity, tremors, inflammation, and fatigue.
Why Choose CBD over Marijuana In States With Medical Marijuana?
THC is in higher volume in marijuana and is the psychoactive ingredient responsible for that head high that causes negative impacts on the ability to think, focus, and stay awake. Many marijuana users complain of being unable to function because they are sleepy.
Some find it impossible to function when using marijuana because they are high all the time, and simply can’t drive, can’t take part in life at the level they are used to and don’t like that feeling of being detached from life.
Others are afraid of becoming addicted to marijuana. There are people who claim it is not addictive, however, when polling research was done, it was found that fewer than 9% of marijuana users felt that they were dependent on the plant. CBD users do not report any dependency issues and it will not cause the fogginess of a head high.
In fact, because it is a neuroprotectant, CBD seems to improve focus and cognitive function. Those with ADHD use CBD to have a better grip on their ability to focus and concentrate. This is beneficial to those with MS as well.
Since CBD works to block pain signals from reaching the brain, it gives relief from the painful stabs and neuropathy types of pain that can plague those with MS. Tingling all over and sensations of burning toes or fingers can be painful and extremely prohibitive in doing daily tasks, which leads to depression of those with MS.
CBD may relieve this pain and also works as an antagonist to the body system that produces serotonin and dopamine, spurring it to make more serotonin and bring balance back to moods, thereby reducing depression. Patients with MS will also take advantage of this function of CBD oil.
CBD, quite simply, allows the user to enjoy relief of many symptoms of their MS while avoiding the negative impacts of THC and completely avoiding any chance of potential dependency. You can stop taking CBD anytime you like. You may skip a dose and you will not be dependent on it. You may notice that your symptoms become worse until you take an additional dose, but you will not have withdrawal symptoms or become ill in any way if you choose to stop taking CBD for any reason.
Coordinate With Your Doctor
CBD doesn’t interact negatively with most prescription medicines but it may impact some. It’s highly recommended that if you are on prescription medications, you should speak to your doctor about potential interactions and safety. CBD is known as a natural blood thinner and it may not be advised for someone already taking a blood thinner, for example.
For most medications, CBD can actually help your body metabolize them more effectively. This is advantageous to someone who has issues that reduce their body’s ability to metabolize and move food through their system, in the way that MS does.
It is important to understand that CBD is not a cure. It is, frankly, not a cure for anything. What it is, is a highly effective method of controlling many types of symptoms of chronic conditions and pain. CBD has been nicknamed “the Boy Scout Molecule” because of its ability to determine what needs to be done and always do the right thing in response. This is perhaps the best way to describe the uncanny ability of CBD to help humans and pets.
CBD works in the body via the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a body system that works to control many other systems to establish and maintain homeostasis within the body. Homeostasis is a scientific term that simply means balance. Therefore, the ECS works to bring balance in the body by directing the work of other body systems.
All mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have an ECS. For this reason, all of these creatures can benefit from CBD. We all consume various cannabinoids as phytocannabinoids in our diets. Phyto refers to plants. Phytocannabinoids are those that come from plants and this includes CBD.
All of our bodies are designed to take these phytocannabinoids and put them to use where they are most needed by finding cells that have a receptor on the outside of their cell wall. This is what CBD looks for and binds to those receptors, unlocking them like a key in a door. It can then begin to work within that cell. It’s quite simple in the way that it works when you break it down in the most basic of terms, but the fruits of its labor can be considered extraordinary. More people with MS are using cannabis for their symptoms each year; cannabis meaning either CBD or marijuana. The choice is yours, they both help to relieve symptoms and they are both considered safe and natural products