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Medical Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). MS occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, which is a protective covering around nerve fibers. This leads to nerve damage, which can cause a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, spasticity, fatigue, and chronic pain. While there is no cure for MS, there are various treatments available that can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. One such treatment that has gained attention in recent years is medicinal cannabis.

Medicinal cannabis has been shown to be effective in treating a range of symptoms associated with MS. One of the most significant symptoms of MS is spasticity, which refers to involuntary muscle contractions that can cause stiffness, spasms, and pain. Medicinal cannabis has been found to be effective in reducing spasticity, which can improve mobility and quality of life for MS patients.

In addition to spasticity, medicinal cannabis has also been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain associated with MS. Chronic pain can be debilitating and can impact a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Medicinal cannabis can help reduce pain and improve overall quality of life for MS patients.

Medicinal cannabis may also be beneficial in reducing fatigue, which is a common symptom of MS. Cannabis can have a stimulating effect that can help increase energy levels and improve mental clarity. This can help MS patients manage fatigue and carry out daily activities.

Sativex is an oral spray formulation of THC and CBD that has been approved by Health Canada and is used to treat conditions like MS and cancer-related pain. It has been approved as an adjuvant therapy for adult MS patients with spasticity who have not responded well to previous treatments. When used together, THC and CBD have been found to have a synergistic effect, meaning that they work better together than they do separately.

Did you know that many Canadian insurance providers offer coverage for medicinal cannabis? Visit our Guide to Medical Cannabis Reimbursement.

While medicinal cannabis may be effective in treating symptoms associated with MS, it is important to note that it is not a cure for the disease. MS is a complex condition, and there is no single treatment that can address all its symptoms. Medicinal cannabis should be use in conjunction with other treatments, such as disease-modifying therapies and physical therapies, to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Medicinal cannabis is not without risks and side effects, and it is important to speak with a health care provider before using it as a treatment for MS. Cannabis can have psychoactive effects, and it may interact with other medications.

Need help getting a medicinal cannabis treatment pan for multiple sclerosis? Book an appointment here.


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Centonze D, Rossi S, Finazzi-Agro A, Bernardi G, Maccarrone M. The (endo)cannabinoid system in multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Int Rev Neurobiol 2007;82(0074-7742; 0074-7742):171-86.  

Di Filippo M, Pini LA, Pelliccioli GP, Calabresi P, Sarchielli P. Abnormalities in the cerebrospinal fluid levels of endocannabinoids in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatr 2008 11;79(1468-330; 0022-3050; 11):1224-9.  

Jean-Gilles L, Feng S, Tench CR, Chapman V, Kendall DA, Barrett DA, Constantinescu CS. Plasma endocannabinoid levels in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Sci 2009 12/15;287(1878-5883; 0022-510; 1-2):212-5.

Sativex (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD)) [product monograph]. Cambridge (United Kingdom): GW Pharma Ltd; 2019.  

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What is CBG?
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Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada
Every year, countless lives are forever changed by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries can occur suddenly, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. In Canada, the month of June is dedicated to raising awareness about brain injuries and the impact they have on individuals, families, and communities. Brain Injury Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the need for education, support, and prevention strategies to mitigate the devastating consequences of these injuries. Brain injuries are complex and debilitating conditions that can have a profound impact on a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. TBIs have a wide range of causes, including motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, workplace accidents, and assaults. The challenges can interfere with one's ability to function in daily life, in relationships, at work, or in social situations. The burden extends beyond the individual to their loved ones who support and care for them. Both the survivor and their family members may experience greater stress and isolation as a result of the significant physical, mental, and financial toll. The Potential of Medicinal Cannabis in Brain Injury Recovery Pain, insomnia, and anxiety are three interrelated symptoms of brain injuries known as the "pain triad," and medicinal cannabis could treat all three symptoms simultaneously without the negative side effects associated with some medications. Often, a combination of CBD and THC is needed to manage the symptoms; during the day, CBD has anti-inflammatory and anxiety-relieving properties without intoxication, and at bedtime, a low dose of THC eases pain and promotes sleep. 1.     Neuroprotective properties: Preclinical studies have suggested that cannabinoids, particularly CBD, possess neuroprotective properties, which means they may help protect brain cells from further damage and promote their survival. 2.     Anti-inflammatory effects: Brain injuries often lead to inflammation, which can exacerbate the damage and hinder the recovery process and can unfortunately sometimes lead to certain types of Alzheimer’s. Cannabinoids have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing neuroinflammation and facilitating the healing process. 3.     Pain management: Chronic pain is a common symptom associated with brain injuries. Medicinal cannabis has been widely acknowledged for its pain-relieving properties and has shown promise in managing various conditions, including neuropathic pain often experienced by individuals with brain injuries. 4.     Emotional stress management: Many individuals with brain injuries experience mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. Some studies suggest that certain cannabinoids, notably THC and CBD, may provide potential relief for these symptoms. 5.     Sleep aid: Brain injuries can disrupt the normal sleep-wake cycle, leading to various sleep disturbances. Cannabinoids (such as CBD, THC and CBN) may have both sleep-promoting and wakefulness-inducing properties. Did you know that many Canadian insurance providers cover the use of medicinal cannabis to treat chronic neuropathic pain? Visit our Guide to Medical Cannabis Reimbursement. While the potential for medicinal cannabis in brain injury recovery is an exciting area of research, more scientific evidence is needed to establish effectiveness, safety, and optimal utilization. Individuals considering medicinal cannabis as a supplementary therapy should consult with their healthcare provider. Need help getting a medicinal cannabis treatment plan for a brain injury? Book an appointment here. References: Aychman, M. M., Goldman, D. L., & Kaplan, J. S. (2023). Cannabidiol’s neuroprotective properties and potential treatment of traumatic brain injuries. Frontiers in Neurology, 14. Retrieved from Lins, B.R., Anyaegbu, C.C., Hellewell, S.C., Papini, M., McGonigle, T., et al. (2023). Cannabinoids in traumatic brain injury and related neuropathologies: preclinical and clinical research on endogenous, plant-derived, and synthetic compounds. Journal of Inflammation, 20, 77, 1-21. Retrieved from,management%20of%20traumatic%20brain%20injury. Mechoulam, R. (2002). Cannabinoids and brain injury: therapeutic implications. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 8(2), 58–61. Schurman, L.D., & Lichtman, A.H. (2017). Endocannabinoids: a promising impact for traumatic brain injury. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 69. Retrieved from Scuderi, C., Steardo, L., & Esposito, G. (2013). Cannabidiol Promotes Amyloid Precursor Protein Ubiquitination and Reduction of Beta Amyloid Expression in SHSY5YAPP+Cells Through PPARγ Involvement. Phytotherapy Research, 28(7), 1007–1013.