Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the Central Nervous System (CNS) – that’s the brain and spinal cord. Predominantly, it is a disease of the “white matter” tissue. The white matter is made up of nerve fibres which are responsible for transmitting communication signals both internally within the CNS and between the CNS and the nerves supplying rest of the body.
In people affected by MS, patches of damage called plaques or lesions appear in seemingly random areas of the CNS white matter. At the site of a lesion, a nerve insulating material, called myelin, is lost. Clinically, MS is a hard condition to characterise because it is very unpredictable and variable. Depending on which areas of the CNS are affected and how badly they are damaged, the type and severity of symptoms can vary greatly.
No two people get MS in exactly the same way and the expression of each individual’s disease is as unique as their fingerprints. However, the different courses of the disease, both within an individual and within the whole population, principally differ in their timing, location and severity. Underneath similar processes (including demyelination and sometimes other forms of nerve degeneration) are going on.
Although recent research indicates that the biochemical make-up of lesions may vary between different forms of the disease, this is not the reason why people with MS (PwMS) have such widely differing symptoms – it’s because nerve damage to one site usually causes completely different symptoms than damage to another.
In general, people with MS can experience partial or complete loss of any function that is controlled by, or passes through, the brain or spinal cord.
Cannabis can be used to treat symptoms associated with MS, specifically in order to relieve muscle spasticity. The spasms occurring at night can be particularly disruptive to sleep. An Indica dominant strain can be helpful for night time pain management, when the sedative side effect would be beneficial. For patients who develop a sudden onset of intense muscle spasms, a fast acting inhaled form of marihuana might be effective.