A web-based survey hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, with results published in 2017, indicated that as many as 66% of MS patients at that time were using cannabis for the treatment of their symptoms. A similar 2016 survey of Canadian patients with MS indicated that 50% would consider the use of cannabis if the legal status were clear and scientific evidence available.
Here are some frequently asked questions about cannabidiol and MS.
What is CBD?
CBD is a compound isolated from the Cannabis sativa plant that does not contain the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), known to produce the “high” users feel. For this reason, it is regulated differently from THC-containing marijuana. CBD comes from hemp varieties of the cannabis plant, as opposed to the strains known as marijuana, which have higher amounts of THC.
How does CBD reportedly work?
The mechanisms by which CBD affects the body are still under investigation. The compound is thought to bind to and activate the endocannabinoid receptors. Two endocannabinoid receptors have been identified — CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), intestines, connective tissues, and gonads and several other glands. CB2 receptors are located in the spleen, tonsils, thymus, and immune cells; only a few are in the brain.
Data suggests that CBD does bind to the receptors but does not directly activate them. Instead, it appears to modulate or adjust how the receptors respond to stimulation from other compounds such as THC, for example.
Is it legal?
In the U.S., this depends on the individual state and the intended use of cannabis — whether it is medicinal or recreational. Federal legislation has legalized CBD products derived from hemp, but individual states have their own legislation.
“Green” states are those that permit all uses of cannabis and cannabinoids by anyone of legal age.
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