Those with multiple sclerosis have turned in increasing numbers to cannabis and CBD for relief, a new study has found. Some expressed that they use cannabis because there are no effective treatment options for MS, leading them to seek alternative therapies.
To conduct the survey, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal – Experimental, Translational and Clinical, researchers looked at data from 1,000 patients with MS. They found that 42% said they had used cannabis or CBD in the past year. That’s about double the rate of use among the general populace.
The researchers wrote that the study highlights “the rising prevalence of cannabinoid use in Americans with MS, and, among users, an abiding perception of benefit for multiple chronic symptoms.”
MS Patients Have Been Going It Alone
Among the survey respondents who used cannabis or CBD, 90% said their cannabis use was medicinal. In the study, the University of Michigan researchers noted that many MS patients suffer from chronic pain that can impact all phases of their life, from accomplishing day-to-day tasks to getting good sleep.
Further, 60% of those who reported sleep disturbances also said it led to issues with fatigue and other chronic symptoms.
MS patients have apparently decided to blaze their own trail for treatment. Of the 42% who reported using cannabis, only 18% had guidance to use cannabis from their healthcare provider.
Among the MS patients who used cannabis, the most frequently mentioned reason for use was pain and an inability to sleep. They reported a strong correlation between using cannabis or CBD and experiencing a benefit in both areas.
The researchers wrote that the findings show “many Americans with MS use cannabinoids, and CBD-predominant products in particular, to self-manage a wide range of symptoms.”
They also wrote that the study’s findings ”highlight crucial gaps between community use and clinical care.” They noted that while most people in the survey wanted to receive guidance from their healthcare provider, fewer than 1% got that guidance.
Other Studies Into MS and Marijuana
Doctors have urged caution for MS patients in using cannabis, although there has been some positive research into the issue.
Web MD reports that “an influential national group of scientific institutions” have concluded that cannabis is proven or very likely to “help ease stiffness and muscle spasms that are common with MS, at least as measured by self-reported symptoms.”
The clinic also reports that some evidence suggests cannabis and CBD may help ease sleep issues.