Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by nerve damage that disrupts communication between the brain and body. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates that there are more than 2 million individuals living with multiple sclerosis around the world. The prevalence of multiple sclerosis is highest amongst women, individuals living in areas far from the equator, and those between the ages of 20 and 50 years old.
The Multiple Sclerosis Landscape
Unlike many other conditions, the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. What is known is that in the case of multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the fatty substances that protect and coat nerve fibers throughout the spinal cord and brain, known as myelin. When myelin is damaged, it exposes the internal nerve fibers and causes messages traveling through those nerves to become blocked or delayed, resulting in a wide spectrum of different symptoms and ailments.
Within the multiple sclerosis landscape, four disease courses have been identified: clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and secondary progressive MS (SPMS). Each of these defined disease courses is characterized by specific criteria, resulting in various symptom sets for each patient.
Signs of Multiple Sclerosis
Some of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include but are not limited to the following.
- • Vertigo
- • Imbalance
- • Numbness and tingling in the face and/or extremities
- • Weakness
- • Double vision
- • Bowel and bladder Issues
- • Pain
- • Concentration issues
Sometimes other less common symptoms can occur, including paralysis, seizures, hearing loss, speech issues, tremors, and blindness.
When Should You Seek Help for Multiple Sclerosis?
If you or a loved one are experiencing any or a combination of the signs and symptoms listed above, and have been experiencing them for a prolonged period of time on a consistent basis, it is highly recommended that you seek evaluation from a medical care provider. If you have experienced vision loss, paralysis, acute numbness or tingling, or double vision that has been consistent for several hours, it is essential that you seek medical help immediately.
How Is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?
Seeing how there are no specific laboratory or radiology tests for diagnosing multiple sclerosis, doctors must rely on eliminating other possible conditions that are known for producing symptoms similar to that of MS. This type of diagnosis is known as a differential diagnosis, which is completed through an examination of your medical history and a physical exam. After these are performed, doctors commonly also request blood tests, MRIs, and spinal taps, among other potential tests, to further solidify a proper diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. For those that have previously been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, the diagnosis is fairly straightforward as it is based on a pattern of symptoms consistent with that seen in the past and can easily be confirmed by brain imaging scans, such as MRI.
The Endocannabinoid System & Multiple Sclerosis
The body’s endocannabinoid system plays an essential role in our body’s overall well-being. According to research, it appears that cannabinoids may also play a pivotal role in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry, cannabinoid-based extracts provide significant efficiency in decreasing muscle stiffness and body pain as well as increasing sleep quality in MS patients.
A study published in the European Journal of Neurology one year earlier concluded that spasticity levels within patients were significantly lower in those given cannabis extracts in comparison to those given placebo.
Traditional Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis
While there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis, there are a wide variety of treatments that are often employed to provide patients with a better quality of life. These treatments include medications, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative medicines. The most common medications prescribed to those with MS include corticosteroids, interferon beta medications, muscle relaxants, medications to reduce fatigue, and medications for accompanying symptoms such as pain, depression, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction.
Plant Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis – Clinical Trial Synopsis
Currently, researchers with BOD Australia are recruiting patients that have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for an open-label observational study of safety and efficiency utilising pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicine for various indications. Learn more about this clinical trial and register your interest here.
To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.