In 2012, the University of California conducted a study on cannabinoids and spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis. The randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study found that of the 30 people who completed the trial, those that smoked cannabis reported an average 2.74-point reduction in the Modified Ashworth scale compared to the placebo. (The Modified Ashworth Scale is used to measure spasticity in MS patients.) It’s important to note here that cannabis, and not CBD specifically, was responsible for the improvement in MS symptoms.
CBD oil can also increase the amount of adenosine and anandamide in the brain. These neurotransmitters play a role in the regulation of mood. Anandamide is responsible for feelings of joy and motivation, and adenosine for clarity and mood elevation.
CBD Oil for Chronic Pain
Once you have your doctor’s blessing, you’ll need to choose which types of CBD products you’d like to use. CBD oil is available in a variety of forms. Depending on the severity of your spinal cord injury, some options may be better than others.
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) impact nearly five million Americans each year. Some call the spinal cord an “information superhighway” because it’s what connects the brain to the nerves that provide feedback from all the different parts of the body. Because it plays such a crucial role in pain perception and bodily function, those who have a spinal cord injury can often have reduced quality of life.
One of the most common symptoms of spinal cord injuries is paralysis, or loss of movement in the arms and legs. There is not enough conclusive research to suggest CBD oil could help restore motor function to paralyzed limbs in humans. However, CBD oil could help with other symptoms associated with spinal cord injuries including chronic pain, muscle spasms, and depression.
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Because cannabis is a schedule 1 drug, it has been difficult to get funding to conduct research on its medical use. In spite of this hurdle, “we now know on the basis of science and clinical trials that cannabis and cannabinoids work very well for neuropathic pain and spasticity,” Carter said.
By Gregory T. Carter, MD, MS
“I’m here to say on the record that the classification as a schedule 1 drug doesn’t make any sense scientifically,” Carter said.
“I first stumbled onto medical cannabis 20 years ago when an ALS patient told me she was using it for pain and spasticity,” Carter recalled. “When medical marijuana became legal in Washington State, I began prescribing it.”
The national conversation about cannabis (marijuana) is changing rapidly, and many people with SCI would like to know more about its use as a medical treatment for pain and other symptoms. In this forum presentation, Dr. Carter discusses the history of medical cannabis in the U.S., the physiological effects of cannabis, and the current scientific evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for neuropathic pain when used under a physician’s supervision. Watch the video or read the report, below.
CBD can be sourced from plants containing small or large amounts of THC. Cannabidiol is just one of many phytocannabinoids (naturally-occurring cannabinoids) found in cannabis. Others are CBC (cannabichromene), currently being studied as a cancer tumor inhibitor and stimulator of bone growth, and CBG (cannabigerol), which treats fungal infections and kills bacteria. Laws regarding growing and processing of hemp were murky until recently. With the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp was removed from the federal listing of schedule 1 drugs, which had placed it in the same category as heroin. Now, farmers can legally produce this crop in the U.S.
As far as how to ingest, Carter suggests vaporization for fast effect, and oral routes — like sublingual tinctures and edibles — for chronic dosing.
What Exactly is CBD?
Dosages have been trial and error. He’s been taking CBD for around seven months, using a tincture of oil and CBD first. The next time, he ordered gummies from the same manufacturer and didn’t get the right reaction, “It was hard to judge the number of gummies to take. Two didn’t work and three made me feel less clear. I didn’t feel the consistency was there.”
Like Burns, after a long day in her wheelchair, Oliver counts on CBD to make sleeping easier. A few gummy cubes taken a couple of hours before bed relieves tension so she can get quality rest. “All my muscles seem to be letting go,” she says.
While the country still battles state-by-state on whether to legalize marijuana, a recent change in federal law has opened the floodgates on sales of products featuring cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive components of marijuana, or cannabis. With legalization came immense popularity, and now it seems CBD is for sale everywhere and in everything. From CBD bath bombs to edible gummies and oils, it is for sale in gas stations, natural food stores and kiosks in the mall. So what is CBD? Is it safe? And can it help people with spinal cord injury?