In November 2018, the UK government legalised cannabis for medicinal use, but also put a strict criteria in place for who could access it. Only specialist doctors are allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis, and so far only a handful of people have benefited from the change in law.
There’s a medically approved cannabis-based treatment called Sativex, but it doesn’t work for everyone. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it’s approved for use on the NHS for ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ spasticity (muscle spasms and stiffness). But you can have it only if other treatments haven’t worked. It’s not yet approved in Scotland but we hope it soon will be.
Cannabis is made up of compounds called cannabinoids. The main ones studied for their therapeutic effect are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gets you ‘high’, and cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t.
One in five people with multiple sclerosis (MS) surveyed in 2014 told us they’d used cannabis to help with their symptoms. They said it can help with muscle spasms or stiffness (spasticity) and pain.
Some people with MS use cannabis in a variety of ways to help ease their symptoms.
A less common form of MS, primary-progressive multiple sclerosis affects about 10% of all MS patients.
However, Thrower points to CBD topicals as a potential solution for fighting localized pain in MS patients
But can CBD oil actually treat multiple sclerosis?
There are 4 main forms of multiple sclerosis based on the type and severity of symptoms:
In 2016, researchers were looking at how a pharmaceutical spray Sativex might reduce muscle spasms in MS sufferers.
CBD oil is a common way to take it. You can put it under your tongue or add it to your food or drinks. You can also put it on your skin. Some research found sprays you put under your tongue might be best for MS.
Harvard Medical School: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”
How It May Help
Experts think CBD affects your brain by attaching to certain receptors in the central nervous system. They change the way these receptors respond to stimulation. This may ease inflammation and help with your brain’s immune responses.
It comes in many forms. You can find CBD in:
FDA: “FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD).”