Roughly 400,000 people in the United States suffer from multiple sclerosis and 1.5 million people around the world. One of the most famous marijuana advocates that uses medical cannabis to treat his multiple sclerosis is Montel Williams. He has spoken extensively at conferences around the country about how medical marijuana helped him break his addiction to opiate based drugs. like Oxycontin. and helps him manage his condition.
Like many other conditions, medical marijuana has shown the ability to help multiple sclerosis patients with motor control and muscle stiffness. A clear understanding of the internal endocannabinoid system and how cannabidiol (CBD) links to receptors to reduce inflammation and pain, explains why medical cannabis can be effective. Have you looked into finding a Florida medical marijuana physician to see if medical marijuana would be right for you?
You’ve had multiple sclerosis for a while now and tried a bunch of things to ease your pain or control those muscle spasms. But you’re just not getting the relief you need. Is it time, you wonder, to pay attention to all the talk about medical marijuana? Could it be an option for you?
It’s giving some relief to people like Zach, who asked to keep his full name confidential. He lives in Phoenix, AZ, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2010.
Zach deals with tingling in his hands and feet, balance problems, and pain in the top of his head and spine. He also has “phantom sensations,” like tasting root beer when his mouth is empty, smelling ammonia suddenly, or hearing a train that isn’t there.
“When people started talking to me about medical marijuana after my diagnosis, it was daunting,” he says. “I’m the biggest square you’ll ever meet. I’ve never even been drunk before. So I was on the fence about using it.”
But Zach’s MS is advanced, and he has symptoms every day. “It affects my mobility, and I’m losing vision in my right eye,” he says. “So at this point I’m glad to try anything that will help.”
Your doctor isn’t likely to suggest you use it until you try other medicines first. He may recommend it as an additional treatment if you live in a state where it’s legal.
Research is still early, but some studies show it can treat MS symptoms like:
Stiffness or uncontrolled muscle movements. Medical marijuana may help calm your spasms and let you move your arms and legs more freely.
Overactive bladder. Does MS make you feel like you need to go the bathroom a lot? The drug can ease the spasms that cause your frequent urge to pee.
Nerve pain. It could make you hurt less, which can help you sleep better, too.
Zach says marijuana “takes the edge off” his pain, but it’s not meant to be a quick fix, like aspirin.
“Relief doesn’t happen the next day,” he says. “It takes several weeks for your body to figure out what it’s going to do with this new chemical.”
Doctors suggest you use medical marijuana as a pill or spray instead of smoking.
“In theory, smoked marijuana should be as effective a treatment as other forms,” says Kevin P. Hill, MD, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. But doctors don’t recommend you take it that way because it’s bad for your lungs. And when you use the drug in pill or spray form, it helps your doctor control how much of the active chemical you get.
Marijuana has some side effects and long-term risks, Hill says. They’re the same whether you use it for fun or as medicine.
If you use medical marijuana every day, Hill says, you may get problems like:
Zach says the only side effect he’s noticed is a “fuzzy feeling” in his head after taking it. But since he’s on other medications, too, he says it’s hard to tell which one is causing it.
“Most people who use marijuana, like most people who use alcohol, do not develop problems with addiction,” Hill says, but it’s a possibility for some.
“About 9% of adults and about 17% of young people who use marijuana become addicted,” according to Hill. So use it to treat MS only when your doctor supervises your care.