An Overview of Medical Marijuana Usage in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
What is multiple sclerosis? What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis, more commonly known as MS, is a long-term disease that affects the optic nerves of a patient’s eyes, brain and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis has the potential to cause vision problems by altering the balance, damaging muscle control and causing other problems with the basic bodily functions and operations.
It is difficult to determine or list the effects of multiple sclerosis because they vary from patient to patient. While some patients may have mild MS symptoms and do not require treatment, others could face great trouble in doing simple tasks and daily routine work.
What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis occurs when a fatty material known as myelin is attacked by the patient’s immune system. The purpose of myelin is to wrap itself around the nerve fibers as a protective covering. This is important for the nerves because the layer protects them from harm. Any such damage would have stopped the brain from sending signals to the body properly. Moreover, this causes the nerves to become weak and cease to work like they should, thus leading to the patient facing symptoms like lethargy, weak muscles, spasms, sexual performance problems, poor bladder and lesser bowel control, problems in vision with blurred or double vision, depression, uncomfortable pain, even issues with recalling and remembering information.
Symptoms usually begin occurring between the age of 20 and 40. Patients with multiple sclerosis usually face attacks known as relapses; these generally worsen the patient’s condition. This can be followed by recovery, especially when symptoms improve; however, there are patients who experience the disease and continuously grow worse. In the recent past, researchers and specialists have identified several new treatments and remedies to help patients with multiple sclerosis to prevent relapses and to reduce the dangerous effects of the disease.
What causes multiple sclerosis?
It is rather surprising to know that even in the modern world, doctors are unsure about the precise reason and cause of multiple sclerosis. However, there are several things that make the disease more likely to occur. For example, it has been noted that people with specific genes are more likely to suffer from multiple sclerosis. Smokers are also at a greater risk of suffering from this disease.
Patients have also suffered from multiple sclerosis after a viral infection, which makes the body’s immune system stop working properly and leaves the patient at a greater risk of multiple sclerosis. Viruses like the Epstein-Barr virus or even the human herpes virus-6 are among those that could trigger or cause a relapse of multiple sclerosis.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
As of now, there is no precise and certain treatment or cure for multiple sclerosis. However, there are several ways and treatments that can improve a patient’s health and how they feel about themselves. Doctors are in a position to prescribe drugs that slow down the disease and prevent attacks. Moreover, symptoms can be mitigated with treatment; it helps patients to manage the stress that is induced by this condition in a better way. Some of the drugs that help slow down multiple sclerosis or improve the patient’s help include Beta interferon (Avonex, Betaseron, and Rebif), Teriflunomide, Dalfampridine (Ampyra), Mitoxantrone (Novantrone), Copolymer-1 (Copaxone), Natalizumab (Tysabri) and Dimethyl fumarate.
There are times when doctors even prescribe steroids to patients in order to reduce and shorten the attacks caused by multiple sclerosis while making them less severe. Patients are also recommended drugs like tranquilizers and even muscle relaxants or botulinum toxin (Botox) because they help in easing the muscles during spasms and treat other symptoms alongside.
Experts and therapists who have specialized in multiple sclerosis treatments can recommend exercises that help patients to maintain strength and attain balance despite the illness, which helps in managing the overall pain and fatigue. Occupational therapists have perfected techniques that help MS patients to discover new ways of accomplishing certain tasks that make it easier for patients to take care of themselves, their work and other routine tasks, including getting around and walking.
Apart from treatment, there are several other things that can be done in order to ease the multiple sclerosis symptoms. Regular exercise and avoiding heat can boost the energy of patients. Doctors are in a position to recommend exercise that will best suit their patients. At times, even yoga can help to significantly release stress and fatigue; patients who continue yoga as a habit are likely to see improvements in their condition. It is also important for patients to take care of their emotional health and to avoid anxiety and stress, or speak out about it if it does occur. This is precisely why support groups have become so popular among patients of multiple sclerosis.
It is said that medical marijuana is a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis. However, the question of whether it should be used to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis or not is a complex one, given the complexity that comes with marijuana usage itself. Additionally, it has been repeatedly agreed that improved therapies are required for lessening the severity of the symptoms of MS, including spasticity, tremors and pain.
Medical marijuana is considered a treatment for MS because it helps in reducing or alleviating the symptoms of the disease, including symptoms like depression, anxiety, pain and ataxia. Clinical trials and case studies by expert researchers on the topic of the use of medicinal marijuana by MS patients suggest that it is a useful treatment; however, there is still a lack of valid research to prove these suggestions.
Medical Marijuana to Treat Multiple Sclerosis
It is often said that patients suffering from multiple sclerosis can potentially benefit with the use of medical marijuana. Not only does medical marijuana help in treating the disease, it also lessens the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and slows down the deterioration of the nervous system.
There are four recognized courses of progression for multiple sclerosis, including progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis, secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis, primary-progressive multiple sclerosis, and relapsing- remitting multiple sclerosis. Patients have different symptoms for each course. While some may experience mild symptoms, others could suffer from severe symptoms and levels. The effects of multiple sclerosis can become so harsh that patients might need a wheelchair for mobility.
No two cases of multiple sclerosis are the same, which is why it is extremely important for every patient to meet a medical marijuana doctor and discuss their case to receive a customized multiple sclerosis treatment plan that includes medical marijuana usage. It has been noted that patients who consult with a medical marijuana doctor and use it to get aid are usually relieved with significant improvements in their health.
The procedure is such that once the medical marijuana doctor writes a recommendation for medical marijuana for the disease, the patient must get the help of a medical marijuana caregiver and distributor or producer in order to get the medical marijuana legally. This is because medical marijuana is still illegal in quite a few parts of the world and obtaining it can thus be somewhat hard.
It is also important to be sure that one trusts their doctor and is comfortable with the multiple sclerosis treatment and the use of medical marijuana; there has not been any valid testament to the fact that it can cure the said illness so doubts are likely to arise. The patient can always walk away from the treatment if he or she thinks that it is not helping; still, most patients have generally felt better after the use of medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana helps in increasing the appetite of the patients and, while this may not help multiple sclerosis patients directly, this helps patients by improving their overall health. However, just like any treatment or medicine, medical marijuana comes with its own set of side effects. These include dry mouth, hallucinations, dizziness, difficulty to concentrate, depression, and loss of balance.
The above side effects are just one reason why it is integral to consult a medical marijuana specialist along with the doctor who normally deals with multiple sclerosis patients in order to decide whether this treatment will be suitable. Patients must always remember that individual differences exist and what works on one patient might not be the perfect treatment for another.