While the search for a cure continues, some Multiple Sclerosis patients have started to find their own healing with medical cannabis. Veteran Teri Heede, for example, turned to cannabis after her doctor told her there was nothing more they could do. The array of prescriptions she had been given had failed to manage her condition and had eaten away at her stomach lining, leaving her more ill than before. The doctors advised her to seek out alternative methods and after three weeks of treating herself with cannabis she was back on her feet. Now Heede uses her new-found energy to fight for cannabis patient rights.
“We need to make these herbal alternatives legal and available,” she warns “these pharmaceuticals are killing people.”
For Heede, cannabis has been a life-altering medicine, bringing back her ability to live a full and active life. MS is a chronic and unpredictable condition of the central nervous system, which affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. This often debilitating disease can cause a wide variety of symptoms including intense chronic pain, paralysis, muscle spasms and even blindness. There is no cure for MS and while conventional medications exist to slow the progression of the disease and ease the symptoms, for many patients these options either fail, or leave them managing debilitating side effects. Liver problems, nerve damage, and hair loss are all possible side effects an MS patient might experience while on these medications, along with an increased susceptibility to viral infections like the flu.
Cannabis is used by many patients with MS for both symptom management and to slow the progression of the disease. And the research also backs up medical cannabis patients’ claims that it is helping with their condition. Unlike with many other conditions, there is actually a fair bit of specific medical research on cannabis’ efficacy for treating MS. Studies show positive results for patients smoking cannabis, taking whole plant cannabis extracts, or using an oral cannabis spray. These methods of cannabis intake have been shown to help reduce many of the symptoms of MS ranging from inflammatory events to mood disturbances.
While negative side effects do sometimes occur for patients using cannabis for MS, most adverse events have been classified as mild or moderate by researchers. The most commonly reported adverse events being nausea and dizziness. Some doctors also warn that because of the increased risk of depression and suicide among MS patients, along with cannabis’ mood altering abilities, some patients (1 in 100) may be at risk for becoming more depressed while using some types of marijuana. Still for many patients, cannabis provides a safe and effective medicine for an incredibly challenging condition. Patients interested in trying cannabis for their MS should start by finding an MD who specializes in cannabinoid medicine to advise them on treatment.
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