Over 2.5 million people suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
There is no cure for MS yet, but individuals with this debilitating disease do have some options when it comes to treatment and relief.
At the top of this list is marijuana. Weed has been used medicinally to treat a variety of diseases and chronic pain for centuries.
Researchers are looking seriously into the idea of marijuana as a viable form of treatment for people with MS.
This has a lot to do with the effects of weed on the brain. Curious to learn more? Read on for insight into how marijuana interacts with a person's neurology and provides relief for those suffering from MS.
Effects of Weed on the Brain
People smoke or ingest weed (marijuana) for a variety of reasons. Individuals may rely on the effects of weed in order to treat anxiety, symptoms of ADHD, and/or depression.
A lot of individuals have found weed to be an excellent remedy for chronic pain.
Others simply enjoy the high it gives them, and smoke or ingest it recreationally.
Whatever the case, weed affects the body in a variety of ways. It interacts with your nervous system in order to generate psychoactive and/or therapeutic properties.
Let's get into the science of why this happens.
Weed and Cannabinoids
Marijuana or weed comes from the cannabis plant, which is made up of a bunch of special compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds come in two different types: THC and CBD.
THC is the compound that induces a psychoactive response in the body. This is the "high" that people get when they smoke or ingest weed.
CBD, on the other hand, isn't psychoactive. Instead of causing people to get high, it immediately starts to interact with your body's central systems.
Specifically, it engages with your body's neurotransmitters, certain receptors, and other hormones. As a result, CBD can regulate mood or emotions, change the way your body responds to pain, and lower blood pressure.
Cannabinoids also interact with a system that already produces cannabinoids: the endocannabinoid system. CBD can stimulate this system to produce more cannabinoids, affecting your body further.
Cannabinoids And Your Brain
So what do cannabinoids do with your neurology, and what are the effects of weed on the brain?
Well, a lot of different things happen in the few hours after you've ingested weed.
Our brains produce a chemical called anandamide, which is a key factor in regulating emotions and mood, appetite, sleeping patterns, and stress responses.
THC, one of the cannabinoids present in weed, is a lot like anandamide. When you flood your brain with THC, it acts like a healthy dosage of the brain's natural mood balancer.
As a result, you may feel calmer, relaxed, and happier.
Cannabinoids can also stimulate your brain to produce large amounts of dopamine, a chemical that causes feelings of euphoria, happiness, and elevated mood. Alcohol actually does the same thing, which is why people "feel good" when they drink it.
Cannabinoids also stimulate the constant firing of neurons. This can lead to modified cognitive function.
Most people talk about only being able to focus on one thing at a time after smoking or ingesting weed--this is what they're referring to.
Cannabinoids can also intercept certain neurotransmitters, changing the script your body reads for doling out feelings of pain. This is one of the most significant effects of weed on the brain.
Effects of Weed on the Brain: Treatment for MS
Now that you have a solid understanding of the effects of weed on the brain, let's look into what this means for people suffering from MS.
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disabling neurological condition that affects over 400 million people in the United States.
In essence, MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body's central nervous system. While your immune system is designed to protect the body against disease and attack, it does the opposite under the influence of MS.
Basically, the immune system of an individual with MS starts eating away at the protective covering around the body's nerves.
As a result, people with MS suffer chronic pain of all kinds, fatigue, and impaired coordination. They may also struggle with vision issues, digestive system imbalances, and more.
A lot of individuals suffering from MS struggle to sleep well given the consistent pain that keeps them up at night.
They may also have heightened levels of what's called muscle spasticity: this means that they encounter painful and consistent muscle spasms.
This is where effects of weed on the brain can play a huge role in offering a valuable remedy.
Weed and MS
The good news in all this is that certain effects of weed on the brain can directly target MS symptoms.
What's more, weed can have an immediate effect in soothing, reducing, and alleviating the most painful and limiting MS symptoms.
Reducing Muscle Spasms
When a person ingests weed, they enjoy a distinct calming effect. This is the result of dopamine in the brain and THC's influence on mood regulation.
Because MS is a neurological condition, weed can immediately influence the body's response to it's own autoimmune attack. Marijuana can target certain neurotransmitters in order to reduce or completely calm muscle spasms.
The effects of weed on the brain can also calm a bladder's overactivity in people with MS. Bladder overactivity is often a result of spasming muscle tissues.
Ingesting marijuana means regulating these muscle spasms, limiting the amount of time that people with MS have to run to the bathroom.
Reduced muscle spasms can mean longer stretches of restful, uninterrupted sleep. It can also reduce sensations of pain circulating in the body.
Alleviating Stress and Anxiety
Many individuals struggling with their management of MS symptoms also suffer from anxiety, elevated stress levels, and/or depression.
These can be incredibly difficult to bear, especially on top of other debilitating symptoms like chronic pain and muscle spasms.
Because the effects of weed on the brain include inducing a state of calm, marijuana can be helpful in managing stress and anxiety. As a result, people with MS may enjoy better sleep and elevated mood.
Treating Chronic Pain
The central nervous system is responsible for delivering signals of pain throughout the body. You feel pain because of, essentially, a nervous reaction to stimulants.
Those with MS can suffer from debilitating bouts of chronic pain, because their body is literally eating at its own nervous system.
In this way, marijuana can be a valuable remedy for these periods of pain.
Weed stimulates the production of dopamine and intervenes with key neurotransmitters and receptors. As a result, the body can have fewer and less intense responses to pain.
This result is an effective form of chronic pain management. This is essential for those with MS looking for a way to manage their pain on a daily basis.
Managing Digestive Health
MS can also lead to a variety of digestive issues, causing abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. Indeed, it can be difficult to eat anything if you suffer from MS.
It's important for people with MS to get the nutrients they need, but sometimes this is nearly impossible given the digestive health symptoms that arise.
The effects of weed on the brain include regulating appetite. Both THC and CBD can target the body's digestive regulation, stimulate enzyme production, and help the body process foods.
As a result, weed can maximize MS individual's digestive health.
Weed Vs. Other Treatments
It's important to note that a lot of current treatments for MS involve the brain.
For example, some doctors offer deep brain stimulation as a treatment. In this treatment, the doctor relies on electrical impulses in order to intervene with nervous responses and stop symptoms.
People with MS can supplement these treatments with changing up their diet, boosting their immune system with supplements, and modifying their lifestyle.
However, because MS is a neurological disorder, it's important to start from the ground up: with the brain itself.
This is why marijuana is a huge competitor regarding treatment for MS symptoms. The effects of weed on the brain can help an individual with MS manage symptoms and find relief.
How to Take It
If you are suffering from MS and are ready to take advantage of effects of weed on the brain, it's important to know your options.
You can smoke medical marijuana to receive the beneficial effects of weed on the brain. But you can also purchase a medical marijuana spray or take a look at CBD products.
CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, making it ideal for people wanting the benefits of weed without the high. You can take CBD in oil form, as a tincture, or in pill form.
We recommend consulting a licensed professional before starting dosage.
Effects of Weed on the Brain and MS
Weed affects your brain powerfully, and for the most part in healing ways. It can target symptoms of chronic and nerve pain, muscle spasticity, and anxiety.
In this regard, it can offer a welcome form of treatment for MS symptoms. People with MS who take regular dosages of CBD or weed may experience a better quality of life.
If you have MS and want to learn more about CBD, we're here to help at Cannabis MD.
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