Multiple Sclerosis and CBD

CBD may help people manage pain, spasms and other effects of MS.

Illustration of a spinal nerve with healthy and damaged myelin

Illustration of a spinal nerve with healthy and damaged myelin

Multiple sclerosis (MS) means many scars.  MS is an autoimmune disorder. It breaks down healthy myelin, making it scarred instead of smooth.

Myelin covers cells in the eyes and central nervous system. It protects them from damage, similar to how enamel is insulation for copper wires.

Healthy myelin is smooth. Besides providing protection for nerves, it serves as a highway for neurotransmitters… so when it’s inflamed or broken down, the body’s communication system is hurt too.

How might CBD help? Articles below describe how CBD may be useful in maintaining healthy myelin.

CB2 Receptors Work With CBD and Reduce Inflammation

British Journal of Pharmacology. 2008 January. “CB2 cannabinoid receptors as an emerging target for demyelinating diseases: from neuroimmune interactions to cell replacement strategies.”

This article is by researchers in England and Spain. They give this overview of CBD and inflammation:

  • Since the 1970s scientists have known that cannabinoids can support the immune system by reducing inflammation.
  • These compounds can bind to CB1 receptors or CB2 receptors.
  • CB1 receptors are associated with psychotropic effects, but CB2 receptors are not… so for “ethical reasons” researchers are particularly interested in CB2 receptors. These can be activated by CBD.

Next they explain a theory of how MS is triggered and why inflammation becomes excessive. They also explore why the body doesn’t fix damaged myelin.


CB2 Receptors Limit Neuroinflammation

Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2008 May 9. “The CB(2) cannabinoid receptor controls myeloid progenitor trafficking: involvement in the pathogenesis of an animal model of multiple sclerosis.”

This Spanish study of mice explores how CB2 receptors help direct cells to rebuild myelin.

The authors conclude that CB2 receptors, which CBD can activate, protect against neuroinflammation.


CBD and THC Help Prevent Muscle Spasms

Journal of Neurodegenerative Disease Management. 2018 April 8. “Palatability and oral cavity tolerability of THC:CBD oromucosal spray and possible improvement measures in multiple sclerosis patients with resistant spasticity: a pilot study.”

Neurologists from six Italian research institutions worked on this study of a replacement for Sativex oral spray. Sativex is a prescription spray with THC and CBD.

This study exists because cannabis spray helps prevent muscle spasms in people with MS. The trouble is that people dislike the taste. The study concludes that participants prefer medicinal cannabis chewing gum and a cannabis drink.