Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

(as defined by the National MS Society)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”

Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.

The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.

When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.

The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.

People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe.

Myelin

Myelin – the protective coating around nerve fibers in the central nervous system – is a primary target of the immune attack in MS.

Immune-Mediated Disease

MS is considered to be an immune-mediated disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks myelin in the central nervous system.

T Cells

In MS, immune system T cells pass from the bloodstream into the central nervous system to attack the myelin coating around nerve fibers.

The Research:

Quite a few studies have been conducted on cannabis and multiple sclerosis. Alena Novotna, MD, et al., stated the following in their March 1, 2011 study titled “A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo controlled, Parallel group, Enriched –design study of Nabiximols (Sativex), as Add-on therapy, in Subjects with Refractory Spasticity Caused by Multiple Sclerosis,” published in the European Journal of Neurology:

“Spasticity is a disabling complication of multiple sclerosis, affecting many patients with the condition. Subjects were treated with nabiximols (Sativex), as add-on therapy; in a single-blind manner…This study has shown Sativex to improve spasticity in patients who had failed to respond adequately to other spasticity medications.”

In another study also published in the European Journal of Neurology, March 2007, researchers from Royal Berkshire and battle Hospital stated,

“Symptoms relating to spasticity are common in Multiple Sclerosis and can be difficult to treat. We have investigated the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of a standardized …cannabis –based medicine (CBM) containing delat-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), upon spasticity in MS. A total of 189 subjects with definite MS and spasticity were randomized to receive daily doses of active preparation (n=124) or placebo (n=65) in an active double blind study over 6 weeks…

The primary efficacy analysis…showed the active preparation to be significantly superior…

We conclude that this CBM (cannabis based medicine) may represent a useful new agent for treatment of the symptomatic relief of spasticity in MS.”