Is CBD isolate with 0% THC actually effective for MS?
Chronic pain, sleepless nights and low mood, are all things that people with multiple sclerosis can relate to, so it's no wonder that patients are turning to alternative treatments for relief from their symptoms. It's led some people to consider CBD oil, but understandably they want to know if it's likely to live up to the hype.
Cannabis is still a huge talking point among clinicians and their patients who want answers about its effectiveness. In this blog, we go back to basics to look at what's contained in CBD and ask, is it really effective at treating multiple sclerosis?
Cannabidiol - the basics
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over a hundred organic compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. It's believed to have therapeutic effects when ingested or inhaled, but research is still ongoing to understand exactly how it works.
It's understood that cannabidiol - a phytocannabinoid - works with the body's own endocannabinoid system (ECS) by interacting with receptors in the brain, spine, and other areas. This system is responsible for regulating key functions, such as:
The two most studied compounds in the cannabis plant are CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Though closely related, there is at least one big difference between these compounds - their psychoactive properties.
THC gives you the 'high' sensation normally associated with taking cannabis, but CBD does not produce this effect. In fact, cannabidiol has few reported side effects and has a 'good safety profile' according to the World Health Organisation.
Most CBD products, sold in shops and online, contain less than 0.3% THC - this is the legal limit for health supplements. Though 0.3% is the limit, some products have no tetrahydrocannabinol and others have small amounts.
Full spectrum vs CBD isolate
There are three main types of CBD products sold in the UK.
1. CBD isolate
CBD isolate is the purest form of cannabidiol. It contains no other compounds found in the cannabis plant, and is almost completely free from THC. To create this refined form of CBD, the cannabidiol must go through additional stages in the extraction process.
2. Full spectrum
Full-spectrum CBD contains not only cannabidiol but other chemical compounds from the cannabis plant as well. This includes small amounts of THC (up to 0.3%), some essential oils, and terpenes - an aromatic compound found in plants and trees.
3. Broad spectrum
Broad-spectrum CBD also contains other cannabinoids like terpenes, but it contains less THC than full-spectrum products. Despite that, it is considered to be more effective than CBD isolate because of the so-called entourage effect.
Research suggests that when different parts of the cannabis plant work together, they are more effective. Some are active ingredients and others are synergists, and together they complement one another in what's known as the entourage effect.
This has led people to ask, is CBD isolate with 0% THC actually effective for MS
Treating the symptoms of MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord causing fatigue, spasticity, and pain. Though there is no cure, there are treatments that can help control the condition, including medical marijuana.
Sativex is one of the few cannabis-derived medicines licensed for use in the UK. It's used in MS patients to treat muscle spasms and stiffness, in the absence of any other suitable treatment. The mouth spray contains equal parts CBD and THC.
Researchers in 2012 studied the effects of CBD and THC on 279 people¹, and found that a higher proportion of people taking oral cannabis had reductions in self-reported muscle stiffness, spasms and pain, compared with other 'placebo participants'.
Pivotal research like this suggests that THC is effective at treating spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients, but cannabidiol can be just as worthwhile without it.
The therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol could help treat other MS symptoms, including:
- Chronic pain
- Low mood
This suggests that people with MS might still benefit from CBD with little or no THC.
CBD oil for multiple sclerosis
Cannabidiol is believed to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic, which is promising news for MS patients suffering with chronic, nerve-related pain.
Broad-spectrum CBD oils and mouth sprays are used sublingually (under the tongue) so the maximum amount of cannabidiol can be quickly absorbed. It lasts in the system for between four to six hours, and is used by some people for pain relief.
Pain, low mood, and sleepless nights often accompany each other, but CBD products may be able to help. Anecdotal evidence suggests that broad-spectrum CBD can reduce stress signals in your body for help falling asleep and staying asleep.
Like, Love Hemp's CBD oil drops with hemp extract and coconut oil. This concentrated tincture is almost completely free from THC - the perfect wellness supplement.
Taking the next steps
There's no doubt that THC combined with CBD plays an important part in treating spasticity and stiffness in MS patients. But broad-spectrum CBD with little or no THC has its own range of health benefits, from pain relief to improved mood and sleep.
Cannabidiol works best as part of a wider treatment plan, so we recommend that you seek medical advice before you begin your CBD journey.
Your doctor or consultant may be able to suggest ways that you can use cannabidiol to complement the things you are already doing. Whether you decide to opt for a CBD with or without THC, you can still benefit from the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol.
- Multiple Sclerosis Trust [online] Cannabis [updated Oct 2018; cited 3 Sept 2021] Available from: https://bit.ly/3yJhipF