What to Know About CBD and MS

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the one of the main ingredients in marijuana (cannabis). It’s different from tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. That’s the part of marijuana that gets you “high.”

The FDA hasn’t approved CBD to treat multiple sclerosis, or MS. Studies are ongoing, but the evidence is mixed. Here’s what we know.

How It May Help

Experts think CBD affects your brain by attaching to certain receptors in the central nervous system. They change the way these receptors respond to stimulation. This may ease inflammation and help with your brain’s immune responses.

More research is needed, but scientists think CBD may help with these MS symptoms:

How to Take CBD

It comes in many forms. You can find CBD in:

  • Certain foods or drinks
  • Supplements (oral capsules, oral sprays, nose sprays, oils)
  • Personal care products you rub on your skin

CBD oil is a common way to take it. You can put it under your tongue or add it to your food or drinks. You can also put it on your skin. Some research found sprays you put under your tongue might be best for MS.

CBD is considered a dietary supplement. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so there’s no way to know if what you’re getting is safe and effective. Studies show many CBD products aren’t as pure as the label says. Some have less CBD. Others may have some THC in them.

Experts say taking 300 milligrams a day by mouth for up to 6 months might be safe. Taking 1,500 milligrams per day by mouth for up to 1 month may be OK, too. People have used 2.5-milligram sprays under their tongue for up to 2 weeks.

What to Watch For

Possible side effects may include:

Eating foods that are high in fat can cause your body to absorb more CBD. This can lead to side effects. It could react with other medications you’re taking, such as blood thinners. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any form of CBD.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on August 14, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Harvard Medical School: “Cannabidiol (CBD) -- what we know and what we don’t.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse: “What is marijuana?”

FDA: “FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD).”

MS Trust: “Sativex (nabiximols).”

Frontiers in Neurology: “Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis.”

British Journal of Pharmacology: “The endocannabinoid system as a target for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease.”

MedlinePlus: “Cannabidiol (CBD).”

Mayo Clinic: “What are the benefits of CBD -- and is it safe to use?”

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