Deaths from multiple sclerosis, with darker being worse. Photo: World Health Organisation

Deaths from multiple sclerosis, with darker being worse. Photo: World Health Organisation

Multiple sclerosis is a dreadful disease of the central nervous system that can be fatal and is most often found in people between the ages of 20 and 50. Women fall prey to it two or three times as much as men. Over 100,000 people in the United Kingdom are stricken by it. Its progress can be slowed by muscle relaxants, steroids and tranquillisers, which have side effects, but it can’t currently be cured. It’s thought to be a genetic condition, but environmental factors may play a part.

What it is

Multiple sclerosis arises when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system, mostly the brain and spinal cord, for some unknown reason. What it does exactly is attack myelin, a fatty substance that forms a sheath around nerve fibres.

With time, damage spreads from myelin to yer actual nerve fibres, messing up nerve impulses in the central nervous system and so causing a selection of symptoms. Which symptoms occur depends on which nerves are damaged and by how much. In the beginning, symptoms might be sufficiently mild that no treatment is required, but with time, these symptoms become more marked or long-lasting, and eventually the sufferer will be unable to take care of themselves. The disease can be so bad a person is unable to speak or walk.

Time for a J

It has been proven scientifically that the body’s cannabinoid receptors relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. These are activated by the cannabinoids generated by the body – endo-cannabinoids – or you could just have a J. Doctors will shy away from smoking and recommend edibles, but these take longer to kick in, and if you aren’t already bothered by smoking, you probably aren’t going to start. Smoking has an almost instant effect, while edibles can take anything from half to several hours but generally have a longer-lasting effect. Perhaps you could have some edibles before bed.

Why cannabis works

Smoking dope is beneficial in this instance for a number of reasons.

It’s anti-inflammatory

The myelin damage multiple sclerosis causes results in inflammation. Cannabis is anti-inflammatory, as has been acknowledged for thousands of years. The vision problems resulting from multiple sclerosis are due to inflammation of the optic nerve, so these can subside, too.

Pain relief

One of the most widely-acknowledged benefits of cannabis it that it relieves pain.

It’s anti-spasmodic

? thereby reducing frequency and severity of the muscle spasticity multiple sclerosis prompts.

It’s an anti-depressant

? but you knew this already. right? People are even calling cannabis green Prozac.

It relieves constipation and incontinence.

It helps you sleep


It’s because of cannabis that the role of the endocannabinoid system in treating multiple sclerosis is known. The benefits of cannabis are so clear that a drug, Sativex, has been created from it, but the NHS in England rejected it on grounds of cost and it is not yet approved for use in Scotland. In Wales, it’s prescribed to control spasms but not for pain. Do you need any more convincing?

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