Let’s start at the beginning. As always, when discussing CBD oil and the benefits of our favourite cannabinoid, it’s important for us to make one thing clear:
CBD oil is not a medicine, nor is it a clinically recognised treatment for multiple sclerosis.
“So why are people recommending CBD oil for MS?”
Well, in exploring treatment for multiple sclerosis, medical cannabis has been found to be helpful for treating muscle pain and spasms.
But medical cannabis and CBD oil are not one and the same.
While CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant, it does not contain the same compounds as cannabis oil. Crucially, for CBD oil to be legal in the UK, it must be low in THC.
And it’s the inclusion of THC component of medical cannabis which has so far been found to be particularly useful in the treatment of MS.
At present, it’s very difficult to get a prescription for medical cannabis in the UK.
Just three people have been issued cannabis prescriptions via the NHS – although the private, legal medical cannabis market now services around 17,000 patients.
But what about our friend CBD? Can it do anything at all?
With CBD and MS, it’s not so much about treatment as it is about supporting your health and wellness with cannabinoids. If that still interests you, read on where we will discuss:
- How using CBD oil for MS may help
- How to use CBD for MS
- The optimal CBD dosage for MS
In this guide:
What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, which causes the body’s immune system to attack itself.
When the immune system attacks the nervous system, it causes damage to a protective layer called the myelin sheath.
This damage leaves scarring, which interrupts messages travelling along the nerves. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms affecting vision, speech, movement, sensation and balance.
MS is a lifelong condition and usually diagnosed in your 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any stage in life.
MS also doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Symptoms can progress in one of two ways: with relapsing-remitting MS, symptoms come and go with gradual progression. With primary progressive MS, the symptoms gradually worsen.
Treatments for MS
There is currently no cure for MS, but there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms.
Treatments can include:
- Steroid medicine to speed up recovery following a relapse
- Treatments to reduce the number of relapses
- Disease-modifying medicines to slow or reduce the condition
In addition to these treatments, it’s essential for those living with MS to take care of their health. Those living with MS may find they get exhausted quickly, so self-care is very important.
Is CBD oil a miracle for Multiple Sclerosis?
The short answer is no.
CBD can’t cure MS. Since there is potential for cannabis oil to relieve some of the symptoms of MS, some CBD retailers are keen to cash in on the association.
However, anyone selling CBD oil as a treatment for MS is breaking the law and should not be trusted. We’re killjoys, we know!
However, CBD does have its place and can support a healthy lifestyle alongside traditional MS medication.
How can CBD oil help with MS?
We’ve said this before, but we will say it again: CBD oil isn’t a treatment for MS.
However, it can help MS sufferers maintain a sense of wellness – something that shouldn’t be underestimated, when considering both the mental and physical implications of living with this chronic, often degenerative illness.
CBD oil is a popular form of self-care and may be useful alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise to help alleviate MS symptoms, including pain and muscle spasticity.
Well, we know that CBD interacts with and boosts our endocannabinoid system – a system of neurotransmitters and receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
We don’t yet fully understand how the endocannabinoid system works, but it is thought to play a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis in the body – possibly by attaching itself to our endocannabinoid receptors, or by preventing endocannabinoids from breaking down in the body.
By interacting with our endocannabinoid system, CBD may play a role in regulating our immune system – which in turn could – according to studies on animal models, reduce the autoimmune response that causes MS symptoms.
Moreover, CBD’s has been explored for neuroprotective properties. Studies suggest that CBD may contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that could potentially protect against damage to nerve cells in MS.
While this all sounds very promising, it’s importnat to note that research on CBD and MS is still in early stages, and no definitive conclusions can be drawn on the effectiveness of CBD oil for this condition.
Frequently asked questions:
CBD oil may be a useful supplement to include alongside other tools – such as alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise – to help alleviate MS symptoms, including pain and muscle spasticity.
CBD is generally considered to be safe, and there’s no clinical evidence at the moment to suggest it could worsen the symptoms of MS.
However, you should always consult a medical professional before taking CBD – especially if you are taking other medications. While rare, CBD can have side effects, which could contribute to MS sufferers feeling worse after taking CBD.
CBD oil benefits for MS
So – what does the research say? How could CBD oil help people manage MS?
Goggles on, bunsen burners at the ready: let’s get our science heads on for a quick minute..
As alluded to earlier, much of the research pertaining to CBD and MS is rather wide and includes studies on either CBD being used in conjunction with THC (for example those supporting the use of Sativex, a 1:1 CBD:THC nasal spray, which has been shown to help reduce pain, spasticity, and frequent urination in patients with MS).
While this is positive, it means we can’t come to any form of conclusion about the efficacy of CBD alone in the treatment of MS.
However – while we absolutely cannot make any clinical claims in regards to CBD, there is some research to support the notion that CBD oil can have benefits for those living with MS.
In a recent meta-analysis, researchers concluded that cannabinoids, including CBD, are “probably effective” at alleviating certain symptoms of MS, including pain and abnormal muscle tightness (spasticity).
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How to determine the right CBD dosage for MS
If you’re considering taking CBD for MS, unfortunately, dosage guidelines are not very easy to find. Since CBD is not a recognised treatment for MS, there have been no trials into the optimum CBD dosage for MS.
The FSA – which regulates CBD in the UK – recommend individuals do not exceed more than 70mg of CBD per day.
Therefore, we recommend starting low and slow and slowly building up your dosage of CBD – while never exceeding the FSA’s daily recommended amount.
Is CBD oil for MS safe?
CBD oil is safe to consume for most people. According to the World Health Organisation, “CBD is generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile.”
However, if you are taking other medication for MS, it’s always worth checking if CBD will interact with the medication.
A good rule of thumb is to look for the “grapefruit warning”. If your medication advises against drinking grapefruit juice before or after, there is a good chance it will interact with CBD.
While it’s not a common occurrence to experience side effects when taking CBD, there’s still a potential risk. Some people may experience diarrhoea, fatigue, weight and appetite changes.
We’d always advise that you speak with a medical professional before making the decision to add CBD into a health and wellness routine.
Final thoughts on CBD oil and MS
Living with MS can have a huge impact on every part of somebody’s life – so it’s little surprise that many people are searching for relief from the symptoms of MS.
While still limited, research around the use of CBD to improve health and wellness while living with MS is promising, with people reporting experiencing reduced pain and spasticity when using CBD supplements.
At present, there’s no clinical evidence to support the use of CBD for MS.
Most studies hinge on the potential of using cannabinoids in general as part of a multifaceted tool kit to help alleviate MS symptoms.
Positive clinical conclusions are only available in relation to cannabis oil – a compound made out of multiple cannabinoids, including CBD – but not exclusively CBD.