Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that impacts the central nervous system, damaging the pathways between nerves and disrupting signals to and from the brain. Some research has pointed to medical marijuana as a potential treatment to alleviate common symptoms of MS like fatigue, muscle spasms, and pain.
When shopping around for cannabis strains (i.e., chemovars) that can help manage MS symptoms, pay attention to their cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Strains high in CBD and terpenes like myrcene may work best. Be on the lookout for the following strains:
- Blue Dream
- Critical Mass
- Granddaddy Purple
- Ringo’s Gift
- Cinderella 99
- Forbidden Fruit
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How Cannabis Affects Multiple Sclerosis
Some evidence supports THC and CBD as helpful tools in managing some symptoms of multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders, particularly neuropathic pain and muscle spasms. More recently, studies have suggested cannabinoids such as CBG and CBC may have neuroprotective properties.
These neuroprotective properties could potentially help to repair and prevent damage incurred by MS’ degeneration of synaptic connections — the chemical and electrical connections between neurons. Research has also pointed to inflammation’s role in some immunity-related occurrences of MS, which anti-inflammatory cannabinoids and terpenes could address.
For example, THC may reduce spasms and pain perception thanks to its analgesic (i.e., pain-relieving) properties. CBD helps reduce some of THC’s psychoactivity when present at higher levels and also works to provide improved anti-inflammatory benefits via the entourage effect.
One example of this combination’s effectiveness is in the UK’s Sativex, a cannabinoid-based medication approved to treat MS that mixes a 1:1 ratio of synthetic versions of THC and CBD. The medicine’s legal status rests on the ample evidence of cannabis’s ability to treat MS effectively and is allowing for more research to come forward.
Combinations of cannabinoids can produce different effects, and certain strains may actually generate effects associated with MS, such as fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia. So, selecting appropriate strains that will not further exacerbate MS symptoms is essential.
Best Ways to Use Cannabis for MS
The best way to consume cannabis to manage multiple sclerosis depends entirely on the person’s needs, health concerns, and physiology. Factors such as weight, age, metabolism, and cannabis naivety affect the best dosage and consumption method. The general rule of thumb is to start with a small dose and gradually increase the amount consumed until you reach your desired results.
Smoking and Vaping
Smoking or vaping cannabis is among the most popular forms of consuming medical marijuana, thanks to their fast-acting effects that typically kick in within 15-30 minutes. However, smoking can harm the lungs due to the carcinogens produced when combusting plant matter. Additionally, it’s more challenging to dose inhaled marijuana, so one can risk overconsumption.
Sublingual products or tinctures are another fast-acting consumption method. They are partially absorbed into the bloodstream via salivary glands in the mouth before being swallowed and digested. Tinctures also are easy to dose and are a great alternative to smoking or vaping if rapid-onset symptom relief is desired.
Edibles are another alternative to smoking or vaping. Though it takes longer for them to take effect, they offer more extended symptom relief. With edibles, cannabis passes through the digestive tract and is processed by the liver, which produces longer-lasting results.
Best Strains for Multiple Sclerosis
For those seeking to soothe muscle spasticity or inflammation, high-CBD cannabis products may be the best bet. Different strains with high CBD levels also help minimize the psychoactive effects of THC while still producing compounded benefits, thanks to the entourage effect.
Cannatonic is a high-CBD-content strain that offers soothing anti-inflammatory benefits for people with MS. This medical cannabis chemovar reportedly assists with pain relief and other MS symptoms, including muscle spasms and anxiety. Myrcene, pinene, and beta-caryophyllene are among the most potent terpenes in Cannatonic.
Blue Dream is a sativa-dominant hybrid with high myrcene and pinene content, which soothe anxious thoughts while balancing a gentle lift of low moods. Individuals report that this marijuana strain makes them feel happy and creative while alleviating nerve pain enough that they can carry out a day’s agenda.
While different varieties of Critical Mass exist on the market, the one best suited for people with MS is a more balanced ratio of THC to CBD content. Individuals prefer the version with low THC levels as they still benefit from the THC’s analgesic properties while also getting CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects.
This moderately-high THC chemovar features more elevated levels of myrcene and beta-caryophyllene, the former known for its sedating and pain-relieving properties and the latter for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Granddaddy Purple reportedly alleviates pain for people with multiple sclerosis while allowing them to relax into a sleep undeterred by insomnia.
ACDC is a genetic cousin to Cannatonic and features some of the market’s most concentrated CBD content levels. This cultivar helps soothe inflammation throughout the nervous system, thereby relaxing muscle stiffness, relieving chronic pain, and aiding with other multiple sclerosis symptoms.
While Ringo’s Gift’s genetic origins are unknown, it was created as a cross of the high-CBD ACDC and Harle-Tsu strains to produce a powerhouse of CBD levels. Ringo’s Gift reportedly banishes chronic pain and inflammation in short order while allowing patients to release any anxiety and depression associated with their condition. The cultivar is not necessarily energizing but is usually recommended for daytime use thanks to its lack of sedative properties.
Pennywise features a balance of CBD and THC, compounding on the health benefits of both cannabinoids thanks to the entourage effect. The cultivar also reportedly features high levels of myrcene, pinene, and beta-caryophyllene, each with anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and other soothing properties that help relieve multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Cinderella 99 (aka C99 or Cindy) is a mild cultivar that averages about 15% THC per dry weight. The strain’s lovely floral aroma comes from its linalool content, which helps contribute to its stress-relieving and relaxing properties. Cinderella 99’s low potency makes it more helpful for those who don’t want to experience strong, psychedelic effects but still reap the benefits of the cannabis plant.
Forbidden Fruit’s high THC levels and high concentration of myrcene and linalool will do the trick for those seeking a heavily sedating strain. This cultivar’s medicinal benefits come from its relaxing properties, which can help multiple sclerosis patients soothe muscle spasms and more effectively battle insomnia.
If you or a loved one has MS, the above strains may be worth a try. Additionally, multiple sclerosis is a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card in many states.
If you live in a state with an MMJ program, applying for a card may save you some money at the dispensary. Make an appointment with Leafwell today to begin your MMJ card application.
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