Identified for several centuries and studied since the mid-XNUMXth century, the multiple sclerosis (MS) remains incurable to this day. Fortunately, there are treatments to slow down its progression and relieve the pain, but nothing that does not yet allow you to get rid of it. For those who suffer from it, any help is welcome. Whether it is sensory as well as motor disorders due to MS, cannabidiol (CBD) seems to be able to relieve certain symptoms and help regain some mobility. While it is by no means a recognized treatment in France, it therefore raises hopes, both in the scientific community and in patients and those around them.
- What is multiple sclerosis and what are its symptoms?
- Treatments for MS: relieve without being able to cure
- Opportunities of CBD for Multiple Sclerosis
- Medicinal cannabis and multiple sclerosis: some countries are already using it
What is multiple sclerosis and what are its symptoms?
Our central nervous system, made up of our brain and spinal cord, controls most of our body's functions. For this, it sends nerve impulses to different parts of the body to tell them how to react (move, feel, think, speak, remember, etc.). It is, in a way, our great "central computer".
Sometimes the immune system, for reasons as yet poorly understood, gets carried away and attacks myelin, a natural sheath that protects nerve fibers. Communication is then compromised. As the myelin is damaged, different sensory and motor disorders appear : it's multiple sclerosis.
Common symptoms of MS
- Vision disturbances,
- Problems with concentration and short-term memory,
- Loss of equilibrium,
- Urinary problems,
- Muscle stiffness,
- Digestive disorders.
Treatments for MS: relieve without being able to cure
At the time of writing this article, MS unfortunately remains an incurable disease, confined to treatments focusing more on the symptoms than on the cause of the disease, still unknown. The management of multiple sclerosis is based on two main axes:
- Treatment of relapses: calm pain during crises, usually by infusion or by oral administration of corticosteroids.
- Background treatment : slow the progression of the disease using drug treatments and promoting the well-being of the patient (light therapy, meditation, psychotherapy).
Aware of the limits of current treatments, the scientific community remains focused on finding the causes of MS and developing a treatment that would not only relieve the patient, but would be able to repair damaged myelin. Unfortunately, no concrete solution has yet seen the light of day, but could happen in the years to come.
In the meantime, the best option is to contain the disease, which CBD seems to be able to help achieve.
Opportunities of CBD for Multiple Sclerosis
The scientific literature on the use of CBD for multiple sclerosis is still scant and needs to be addressed in more detail on such important questions as the long-term effects of cannabinoids on disease (and the rest of the world). organism) or the possible use of CBD as monotherapy. We are not there yet and we should not claim victory because, like current treatments, CBD cannot cure disease. On the other hand, he could well improve daily life of those who suffer from it.
A 2018 study [link in English] focusing on the potential of cannabis for the treatment of MS has shown that CBD can contribute to reduce several symptoms :
- The Depression,
- Spasticity (muscle contractions and spasms).
By allowing to more or less reduce each of these symptoms, CBD thus allows, by way of consequence, toincrease consumer mobility more generally.
CBD for MS pain relief
By binding to the CB sensors of our endocannabinoid system (SEC), CBD can alter certain aspects of neurotransmission. In doing so, it can in particular contribute to control the sensation of pain et act on motor skills. It is also by acting on the SEC that CBD can contribute to muscle relaxation. The main properties of CBD (analgesic, anti-inflammatory, relaxing and relaxing) therefore correspond well to the needs that arise during a crisis linked to the evolution of multiple sclerosis.
Can CBD slow the progression of MS?
The degradation of the myelin characteristic of MS is accompanied by significant inflammation, amplified by the release of cytokines that contribute to the runaway of the immune system and the extent of inflammation. A hope then rests on the anti-inflammatory potential of CBD, which could help reduce inflammation and thus slow down the breakdown of myelin. More in-depth studies are still needed to understand the whole mechanism and, if the anti-inflammatory action of CBD in the case of MS is confirmed, to determine a precise protocol (notably dosage).
Medicinal cannabis and multiple sclerosis: some countries are already using it
In France, the therapeutic cannabis is still under study and no official conclusions have been drawn about it. This means that neither cannabis nor any of its derivatives, including CBD, can be considered a treatment or prescribed for its therapeutic properties. This is not the case everywhere and other countries have already taken the plunge in the context of multiple sclerosis. And we're not just talking about pioneer countries like the USA or Canada.
In Europe, the Belgium and England recommend in particular theuse of therapeutic cannabis (THC and CBD) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. More precisely, these two countries use the Sativex® (spraying THC and CBD on the oral mucosa) in some patients who do not respond to conventional treatments. Sativex® then allows, in patients who respond to treatment, a improved spasticity, pain, quality of sleep and bladder control.
In France, Sativex® has been technically authorized since January 2014. However, it is still not used.