Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating autoimmune disease which affects the central nervous system (CNS) by damaging the fatty myelin sheaths that normally insulate and protect the nerves of the CNS. This disrupts communication between the brain and body, causing a wide array of symptoms which may include back pain, uncomfortable tingling or burning sensations, and cramping, rigid muscles. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, approximately 2.3 million people around the world suffer from MS, with an estimated 200,000 new cases per year in the United States.
While MS is incurable, its symptoms can be alleviated by medications such as Avonex, Plegridy, and Gilenya. Unfortunately, these and other prescription medications fail to deliver significant relief for a large number of MS patients. If you are a Massachusetts resident age 18 or older who has been diagnosed with MS, and you are unhappy with the way your current care plan for MS is progressing, medical marijuana may be able to provide additional relief so that you can experience a greater degree of comfort in your daily life.
To learn more about treating multiple sclerosis with medical marijuana, contact Inhale MD at (617) 477-8886 for a confidential consultation with Dr. Jordan Tishler, the founder of our Boston medical Cannabis practice.
Do Multiple Sclerosis Patients Qualify for Medical Marijuana in MA?
The short answer to this question is yes. In 2012, Massachusetts voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana for adult patients diagnosed with certain medical conditions, which are often referred to as “qualifying conditions.” These qualifying conditions, which are set forth as “debilitating medical conditions” under Section 2(C) of the Massachusetts medical marijuana law (the Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana), include multiple sclerosis in addition to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and several other serious illnesses.
Additionally, the law also permits physicians to recommend medical Cannabis for patients with conditions outside of the regular qualifying conditions, provided the medical benefit outweighs the medical risk.
Can You Treat Multiple Sclerosis with Medical Marijuana?
MS cannot presently be cured, so it would be misleading to state that medical marijuana can treat multiple sclerosis. What medical marijuana can do is increase your comfort by relaxing your muscles, decreasing your perception of pain, and improving your mood. These effects can make it significantly easier to work, socialize, engage in hobbies, and get restful, quality sleep at night, all contributing to an overall higher quality of life.
While each patient experiences somewhat different subjective effects, the dominant trend is that patients, regardless of factors like age or gender, report the following effects while using marijuana therapeutically:
- Improved ability to relax and sleep
- Increased appetite and interest in food
- Reductions in depression and anxiety
- Reductions in their perception of physical pain and muscle tightness
For most patients, the worst side effects of Cannabis use are limited to temporary dry mouth and drowsiness, both of which typically subside in a matter of hours. It is very rare for patients to report serious adverse effects, but the narrow possibility is one of the reasons it is so critical for your Cannabis care plan to be monitored by an experienced physician.
More often, patients report positive experiences and improvements in their symptoms, particularly with regard to muscle spasticity, as evidenced by several peer-reviewed studies. For example, in one study published in 2012 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, MS patients who received marijuana had lower scores than placebo patients on the modified Ashworth Scale, which measures muscle spasticity. A higher score indicates greater tension and rigidity, while a lower score is indicative of a decrease in muscle tone. In addition to providing measurable statistical improvements, the same study also noted that “many patients with multiple sclerosis endorse… [C]annabis as therapy.”
The study authors stated in their conclusion, “Using an objective measure, we saw a beneficial effect of inhaled [C]annabis on spasticity among patients receiving insufficient relief from traditional treatments.”
Contact a Boston Marijuana Doctor About MS Symptom Relief
Inhale MD was established by Harvard Medical School graduate and practicing Emergency Physician Dr. Jordan Tishler in order to ensure a greater degree of medical care and supervision for patients prescribed medical Cannabis in the state of Massachusetts. Under the current system, patients are required to purchase their medicine through dispensaries, which are operated by salespeople who unfortunately lack the medical training to safely advise patients on key issues such as method of use, frequency of use, and size of dose.
At Inhale MD, our mission is to fill this informational gap by empowering patients with scientifically valid, research-driven guidance, so that they can make safe and efficient decisions about their healthcare. We are committed to upholding a high standard of excellence in the cutting-edge field of Cannabis therapy, which is why we work closely with each patient to create personalized care plans with mandatory follow-up visits every six months at minimum.
If you or one of your family members has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and isn’t satisfied with the degree of relief the current treatment plan is providing, it may be time to consider incorporating medical Cannabis into the plan of care. To talk about whether medical marijuana could be right for you in a confidential consultation, contact Inhale MD at (617) 477-8886. We maintain two conveniently located Boston area offices in Brookline and Cambridge, in addition to offering secure and confidential online consultations for patients who are unable to travel.