Cannabis and MS Does it Help?

Liz Filmer
04 May 2023

If your multiple sclerosis treatment isn’t working as well as you want, or if you have had a recent diagnosis, you may be curious about how medical Cannabis might help you.

Official data reveals that many people with MS already use Cannabis and that 50% or more would consider it depending on its legal status and proven benefits. So far, however, the solid evidence for using Cannabis for MS is mixed.

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that targets your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The cannabis plant has dozens of chemicals called cannabinoids that can help our physical and mental health.

A significant nationwide group of scientific organisations concluded that Cannabis is highly likely to help relieve the stiffness and muscle spasms associated with MS, at least as gauged by self-reported symptoms.

Some evidence suggests that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC may help with sleep problems in some people with MS, fibromyalgia, and other conditions.

Although the evidence does exist, a more thorough investigation is required to establish whether cannabinoids help to

•   Improve spasticity or muscle tightness as measured by a doctor.
•  ease symptoms of depression amongst people with MS or long-term pain.

Medicinal Cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018. It is still challenging to obtain on the NHS, but it is possible. Alternatively, you can access Cannabis through private prescription clinics.

Sativex (brand name for the drug nabiximols)  is currently the only drug made from Cannabis that’s licensed to treat spasticity (muscle spasms and stiffness) in MS. It’s a mouth spray made from an equal mix of THC and CBD.

As of late 2021, Sativex is approved by the NHS in England for ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ spasticity – if other treatments don’t work. In Wales, it has been approved like this since 2014, in Northern Ireland since 2021, and in Scotland since 2022.

Getting treatments on the NHS doesn’t depend on a recommendation from NICE or the Scottish Medicines Consortium, which makes these decisions in Scotland. However, it might still be challenging to get. In some regions, the NHS might not agree to pay for it, or local prescribers may decide against giving it to people. 

If not Sativex, how would you use other cannabis products for MS. The best-known compound in Cannabis is THCl. It gets you high when you smoke, eat, or vape it.

Another active ingredient is CBD which doesn’t make you high. CBD.often comes in oil form, which you can use topically to rub on the skin. You can also use it in the form of an extract or tincture that is placed under the tongue. You also can also buy CBD capsules or vape or inhale them. People sometimes buy CBD online.

Some investigations have indicated that CBD may help lower levels of pain and inflammation. However, more research on humans is needed to know if it works.

Whether you smoke, dab, or use CBD oil, you may not know 100% exactly what you’re using. The THC levels, for example, may vary significantly from one manufactured batch to the next. Or you may suffer a very different reaction to CBD than the next person.

Smoking or vaping may irritate your lungs, affect memory, and make it difficult to think clearly. It may also induce feelings of

•    Anxiousness
•    Light-headed
•    Sleepy
•    Sick
•    Depressed
•    Paranoid

Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before you use Cannabis if you are 

pregnant or breastfeeding
Have heart disease
Ever had episodes of psychosis
Have Parkinson’s disease
Take clobazam or valproic acid for seizures, bipolar disorder, or migraines.


Liz Filmer