CBD for MS: Do You Still Need THC?

WRITTEN by Caleb

 | Last revised

Nov, 2022

Whenever one defines a disease or condition by pain, inflammation, and fatigue, there is usually an onslaught of articles recommending CBD.

And MS is no different. But with one exception. Regulators have already approved a cannabis-based medicine for multiple sclerosis patients.

Sativex, a 1:1 THC-CBD extract, is approved for MS patients with nerve pain and spasticity. [1]

Researchers found that a THC-CBD spray effectively reduced symptoms for patients experiencing spasticity from MS.[2]

But what about only using CBD for MS pain?

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease impacting the brain, optic nerves and the spinal cord. MS attacks the central nervous system, our source of bodily control.[3]

While we don’t know what causes MS, we know that something causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system.

Signs and symptoms of MS vary from person to person. A lot depends on how much nerve damage your body has sustained throughout the disease. Some people completely lose their ability to walk, while others are simply unsteady on their feet.

A standard list of symptoms includes:

  • Numbness or weakness in your limbs
  • Lack of coordination, unsteady movement
  • Electric-shock type of pain in the neck
  • Loss of vision, sometimes in a single eye, blurry vision or double vision
  • Vision problems are often paired with pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Problems with bowel and bladder functions
  • Sexual impotence

What The Research Says: Multiple Sclerosis CBD

CBD oil benefits for MS may be numerous. Considering that MS symptoms include pain, inflammation and muscle spasticity, which CBD is supposed to help relieve.

But does the research support this?

As mentioned, scientists have studied THC-CBD combinations and found them helpful for MS patients. But what about CBD on its own?

A 2017 pre-clinical study on CBD showed positive results but stressed it needed “further comfirmation from well designed clinical studies.”[4]

Unfortunately, aside from THC-CBD sprays and this single pre-clinical study on CBD, there hasn’t been much in studying CBD for multiple sclerosis.

However, we know MS patients suffer from pain. And a 2018 review on CBD showed it was effective at pain management.[5]

CBD’s role in reducing inflammation is well-studied and perhaps the most well-known benefit of the cannabinoid. A 2015 study showed that rodents on CBD had significantly less pain and swelling than those not on CBD.[6]

However, if you’re looking for CBD oil benefits for MS, you might want to add some THC into the mix.

And it doesn’t have to be Sativex, the brand name of a THC-CBD spray. Any product with a 1-to-1 CBD-to-THC ratio can reduce inflammation, fatigue, muscle spasticity and pain.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out the research for yourself.[7]

How CBD Treatment for MS Works

With few studies on the subject, we have to make some assumptions.

The human body has two primary cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. Among other places, you can find CB1 receptors in the brain and spinal cord.

A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found evidence of cannabis relieving neurodegenerative diseases, including MS.[8]

The study suggests an impaired endocannabinoid system might be responsible for disease symptoms.

As well, CB1 receptors are known to block the release of glutamate, a chemical transmitter released by nerve cells in the brain.[9]

Excessive glutamate levels can contribute to MS. Hence, why a CBD-THC combo may be preferable for MS patients. [10]

Unlike CBD, THC binds directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, CBD does appear to adjust how the receptors respond to THC.[11]

A green cannabis smoothie with a red and white straw next to a cannabis plant

CBD Oil Benefits for MS

While studies looking at CBD for MS are lacking, we can put two and two together on why CBD can help.

A 2019 study found MS patients with higher levels of a-linolenic acid had lower disease activity.[12] Great news for those already taking CBD for pain and inflammation.

Cannabis and cannabis extracts are rich in linoleic acid. As well, you don’t need a cannabis-specific product.

Hemp seed oil is full of essential fatty acids like linoleic acid. While hemp seed oil lacks CBD content, it’s also easier to find in Australia than CBD products.

If you’re looking to ease your way into cannabinoid therapy, hemp seed oil is a good starting point.

But we suggest you look for products containing the appropriate amount of CBD if you want to discover its pain-management and anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD may reduce hyperactivity of the immune system and spasticity, which is associated with MS.

How to Buy CBD Oil for MS in Australia

You have a couple of options when finding CBD oil for MS in Australia. Well, legally speaking, you only have one option.

You find a doctor. They prescribe you medical cannabis, and then you visit a pharmacy and purchase it.

Of course, finding a cannabis-friendly doctor may be easier said than done. Your best bet is to look for an official cannabis clinic.

These places cater to patients specifically looking for cannabinoid treatment.

Here you’ll find doctors already educated in cannabis as a medicine, so you don’t have to waste any time trying to convince them of the science.

This is option is especially important if you happen to be assessing whether CBD is safe for children dealing with any early onset of symptoms.

Of course, the second option is the black market. Also called the green market, Australians use this market daily to find high-quality CBD products imported from other countries.

Both options work, but when it comes to CBD treatment for MS, you might want to look into a THC-CBD combo product.

THC is associated with a “high” some people prefer to avoid, but research on CBD for MS pain shows more benefits when CBD is present with THC.

So while CBD may help relieve some of your MS symptoms, you may find CBD by itself isn’t enough.

But if the thought of THC scares you, look for a product heavier in CBD than THC, and then gradually, you can increase the ratio, so it’s a 1:1 split.

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1. Elisabeth G Celius, Carlos Vila, "The influence of THC:CBD oromucosal spray on driving ability in patients with multiple sclerosis-related spasticity".
2. Vijayshree Yadav, Christopher Bever Jr, James Bowen, at el., "Summary of evidence-based guideline: complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: report of the guideline development subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology".
3. N/A, "What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ".
4. Carmen Mannucci, Michele Navarra, Fabrizio Calapai, "Neurological Aspects of Medical Use of Cannabidiol ".
5. Sonja Vučković, Dragana Srebro, Katarina Savić Vujović, at el., "Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules ".
6. D.C. Hammell, L.P. Zhang, F. Ma, at el., "Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis".
7. Thorsten Rudroff, Jacob Sosnoff, "Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis".
8. Emma L Scotter, Mary E Abood, Michelle Glass, "The endocannabinoid system as a target for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease".
9. Shahnaz Christina Azad, Jörg Kurz, Giovanni Marsicano, at el., "Activation of CB1 specifically located on GABAergic interneurons inhibits LTD in the lateral amygdala".
10. Ivana R. Stojanovic, Milos Kostic, Srdjan Ljubisavljevic, "The role of glutamate and its receptors in multiple sclerosis".
11. Ethan B Russo, "Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects".
12. Kjetil Bjornevik, Kjell-Morten Myhr, Antonie Beiske, at el., "α-Linolenic acid is associated with MRI activity in a prospective cohort of multiple sclerosis patients".


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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

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