Medical News Today reports on a study published by the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology on compounds in cannabis used to treat multiple sclerosis in mice through preventing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.
Can chemical compounds in cannabis protect the nervous system against MS?
Dr. Ewa Kozela of Tel Aviv University says inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune response, but in cases like MS, it gets out of hand. In the study, she and her colleagues looked at how the nervous system can be protected by compounds isolated from marijuana.
They set out to see if the two cannabinoids known to have anti-inflammatory properties, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), could be applied in the treatment of inflammation associated with MS.
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Specific treatment of inflammation
Researchers treated immune cells that specifically target and harm the brain and spinal cord. The response to both THC and CBD was that less inflammatory molecules produced. There was a significant reduction in Interleukin 17, which is strongly associated with MS, and very harmful to nerve cells and their insulating covers.
The conclusion made by the research team is that the presence of CBD or THC has a restraining effect on the immune cells that trigger the production of inflammatory molecules. The ability to damage the brain and spinal cord is therefore restricted.
CBD the most potent and prolific cannabinoid
Professor Zvi Vogel, co-author of the study, and one of the first researchers who were part of the discovery and description of endocannabinoids in the 1990s, says cannabdiol or CBD is the most prolific and potent cannabinoid in cannabis.
The Tel Aviv researchers say they are particularly interested in CBD because of the medicinal benefits it holds without the controversial psychoactive effects of THC.
CBD leads to less inflammation of the spinal cord
In 2011 the same researchers showed how CBD treated MS-like symptoms by injecting it into the partially paralyzed limbs of mice with an MS-like condition. The animals recovered. First they twitched their tails, and then they started walking without any limping.
The mice treated with CBD had much less inflammation in their spinal cords than their untreated counterparts. This discovery brought about the current study, which they want to build on to provide a treatment for MS.
Further research is needed to prove efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of MS, but CBD oil is already available, and allowed as treatment in many countries for symptoms such as pain or muscle stiffness and spasticity.
Dr Kozela says that when used wisely, cannabis has huge potential, and that science is just beginning to understand how it works.
What does the National Multiple Sclerosis Society say?
MS and Extract of Cannabis (MUSEC):
144 people were randomly assigned oral cannabis extract compared to 135 people receiving a placebo. Perception in change of muscle stiffness were reported after 12 weeks of treatment.
Muscle stiffness was halved in the group receiving cannabis oil, and improvements were noticed in pain, spasm and quality of sleep. The adverse effects reported were urinary tract infections, dry mouth, and dizziness. No new safety concerns were observed.
CBD oil and MS
If you would like to try using CBD oil for MS, the best advice would be to discuss the possibility of a treatment regime with your health practitioner to ensure you get the best cannabis has to offer you to relieve the symptoms of MS, and possibly help prevent the inflammation which might worsen your condition.