Monday November 13, 2017

By Andrew Ward


About 2.5 million people around the world suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease affects sufferers in a multitude of ways. Patients often endure harrowing pains to the spinal cord, optic nerves and brain. Over time, scar tissue builds internally until the body’s neurons can no longer send basic signals to the body.

It’s a terrible condition that currently has no cure. For the more than 400,000 Americans enduring MS, the current treatments leave room for vast improvement.

However, cannabis has made significant gains in the health and wellness community in recent years. Today, marijuana and its byproducts are seen as potential life changers for millions of people across the world. In the United States, MS sufferers are beginning to find out what cannabis can do for them.

This was highlighted in 1999, by TV host and MS sufferer Montel Williams. He began using cannabis after his diagnosis, right around the time he considered ending his life due to his disease. Instead, Williams chose to live and now credits marijuana for helping him function.

Like Williams, cannabis is changing the lives of people living with MS in a variety of ways.

Cannabis as a Treatment for MS

MS patients go through intense pain and other adverse effects on their bodies. With cannabis, however, many symptoms become lessened, or have even entirely gone away in some cases. Of course, everyone’s body is different and cannabis affects everyone differently. But for those suffering from MS, cannabis is a virtually risk-free option worth trying.


Living with MS means that your body is fighting itself constantly. This leads to intense inflammation for many patients. Inflammation affects the neurons in your brain and spine with the worst swelling. It often leads to a range of pains for a patient including a loss of energy to a decline in motor skills.

As a known remedy for inflammation, cannabis works well against MS in this capacity. Patients can take their cannabis in their preferred method of consumption as well. For patients like Williams, they claim to have no ability to roll joints, so they opt for vaporizers. In other cases, CBD oil is the go-to method of choice. Regardless the way, cannabis’ well-established healing powers against inflammation work here for people often in dire need of relief.

Since most MS patients find it hard to roll joints, the preferred consumption method is often vaporizing.

Pain Relief

One common theme of MS symptoms is pain. In one study, 55% of those polled had “clinically significant pain” at some time, and 48 percent were troubled by chronic pain.

Pain is often associated into one of two categories: acute or chronic. Acute pain sufferers report brief, stabbing pains that send electric-like pulses throughout the body. This can also be in the form of burning sensations. Meanwhile, chronic pain relates to longer-term pain. This includes the burning sensation acute pain brings. In this case, it lasts longer. Additional pains include muscle spasms, cramps and other musculoskeletal pain.

A 1997 study found that 112 regular marijuana users with MS reported a decrease in the pain and spasms. In the 20 years since, the science community has increasingly warmed to cannabis as more findings become available. Dr. Thorsten Rudroff, a Colorado State University neurophysiologist told the Huffington Post that, "Our experience here is that these patients reported less pain, less muscle spasticity compared to other patients with multiple sclerosis."


The National MS Society claims that, "studies have suggested that clinical depression—the most severe form—is more frequent among people with MS than it is in the general population or in many other chronic illnesses." In fact, depression is common in many diseases and after other major medical procedures such as a heart attack. Feeling down or hopeless, as well as a lack of interest in the world around you, are common signs to look out for.

Cannabis, in this case, is less of a proven solution. Conflicting reports over the years debate cannabis’ effectiveness. While the science community continues its research, some doctors are moving forward with prescribing marijuana.

Today, more doctors suggest that your local medical dispensary may be a great solution to mitigate depression.

The Best Strains for Multiple Sclerosis

Several strains offer pain relief for MS patients. Here are three that stand out:

Sour Diesel

Starting with a Sativa-dominant strain, Sour Diesel is known for its ability to hit heads early while keeping bodies locked to the couch. With MS impacting movement and inflammation, a relief for both the head and body is often needed.

Sour Diesel
Sour Diesel provides strong relief for both the head and body.

With its numbing qualities, sufferers can feel reduced nerve and muscle pain as well. Another benefit of Sour Diesel comes from the strain’s penchant for making people sleep, which helps some get through the night easier. Though, others have reported that Sour D eases their pain while keeping their energy levels intact.

Critical Mass

Critical Mass is an indica known for not being particularly potent. However, its initial effect should be an effective pain relief for patients. It will keep you high without an aggressive comedown. Those looking for severe pain relief might want to look elsewhere. However, for lesser MS pain, Critical Mass can be a viable option.

Critical Mass
Mass is a mild strain that can help MS sufferers mitigate pain throughout the day.


Papaya can often feel like a pure indica, while sometimes it possesses some sativa traits as well. Regardless, the strain’s long initial potency (about 1.5 hours) should be a great relief option for MS pains. Even great pains have been noted to fall by the wayside with some Papaya hits. In addition to relieving pain, its ability to raise moods can reduce the depression that comes with the disease.

Because of the long duration of its effects, Papaya is a great strain for MS patients.

Cannabis’ impact on MS symptoms is now more supported than ever. It lacks a clear consensus from the medical community. However, patients and more doctors do appear to support the findings. As doctors and patients shift from opioid solutions, cannabis could become a savior for MS sufferers and the potential addiction that stems from it. If the trends continue, cannabis may become the prime solution in the years ahead.

What are your thoughts on cannabis’ ability to help MS sufferers find relief? Comment below!

Photo Credit: 25th Air Force (license)

Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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