I’ve never been accused of having great genes. If anything, I should seek a refund from the universe. This body is seriously defective! I was born with a heart murmur and battled asthma for as long as I can remember.  At the age of 13, we discovered that I had a endometriosis and a didelphyte uterus, or in plain english- two uteruses. I began taking birth control to alter my hormones and control the unbearable menses that accompanied my conditions. At the age of 23, we discovered that I was congenitally missing one of my kidneys as well as one of my adrenal glands.  After struggling with numerous misdiagnosis, we determined that the one adrenal gland I did have, was taking a beating from all the steroids I’d required for most of my life to control my asthma. Since the steroids where necessary for me to breathe, we couldn’t stop them. In turn, I began to take another steroid daily to supplement my failing adrenal gland. Funny, huh? Steroids created a problem that can only be solved by taking more steroids? Finally, at the age of 31, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The icing on the inflammation cake, if you will.

The National MS Society describes MS as this:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”

Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.

The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name

When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.

Multiple Sclerosis causes problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic Multiple Sclerosis and cannabisbody functions. Symptoms include things like trouble walking, fatigue, muscle weakness and spasms, blurred or double vision,
numbness and tingling, poor bladder or bowel control, pain, memory and focus problems, and depression.

After a few months of failed attempts to manage my MS with traditional treatments, I’d had enough. The treatments and the steroids left me feeling worse than the illness did! This is when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I stopped all of my traditional medications and began seeking out alternative treatments and natural remedies.

Then, in a life altering moment, my sister recommended cannabis. While I was skeptical at first, one session made me a believer!

It was the only true pain relief I’d experienced in months and the first thing that seemed to restore some semblance of balance to my body without leaving me feeling as though I’d been run over by a train. I began to do my research and started experimenting with different combinations of CBD oil capsules and cannabis. Before long, with the help of an anti-inflammatory diet, a daily regimen of CBD oil, and regular cannabis sessions, I found my disease well controlled. Anytime I felt an episode coming on, I would engage in additional cannabis sessions and much of the time, that was enough to stave off the Multiple Sclerosis monster. Amazingly though, the health benefits weren’t limited to the Multiple Sclerosis. I found my asthma more improved than it had been in years and all of this was happening without toxic chemicals or steroids!

How Does Cannabis Fight Multiple Sclerosis?

So, how is it that this simple plant is able to have such a profound effect? Well, it turns out that cannabis is anything but a simple plant. It’s a complex organism that interacts with a specific system within our bodies called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to create balance in multiple areas of our bodies. The ECS is responsible for activating and regulating a vast number of processes in our body from sleep and memory to immune system function and digestion. This system is thought to play a major role in the progression of the disease. In fact, a 2007 study found that, in animal models of MS, the ECS is significantly dysregulated. Since cannabis is rich in many different cannabinoids, it has the ability to act on the system in ways that our own naturally occurring cannabinoids would to create homeostasis and help the body heal.

For MS patients the pain relief provided by cannabis is a no brainer, but it goes far beyond pain relief. Cannabis offers a unique trifecta for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, and although it’s not a cure, it’s definitely a treatment I can live with that, for me, it is significantly slowing the progression of the disease and helping me live a full life. It’s anti-inflammatory, promotes neurogenesis, and acts as a neuroprotectant. Because inflammation is the primary characteristic of MS, driving the degeneration of neural pathways, one of the most important benefits of cannabis is it’s ability to halt inflammation and basically calm down the immune system’s attack of the nervous system. Once that attack has been intercepted, cannabinoids can go to work promoting neurogenesis to repair damaged areas and forge new neural cells. Finally, the antioxidant properties of cannabis go to work to protect the cells from further damage.

Cannabis not only eases symptoms but helps promote healing and balance in the body. Cannabis is highly effective at fighting the muscle spasms that can accompany MS.

A 2012 study found that cannabis is twice as effective as a placebo in combating muscle spasticity in MS patients

Cannabis also fights depression, aids in digestion, and helps to ensure MS patients get enough sleep. The benefits of this simple, natural plant are mind blowing. For me, cannabis also serves as a powerful bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory that keeps my asthma in check in a way that daily steroids never did without negatively impacting my adrenal function. In fact, a 2012 study showed that THC can even increase cortisol production, a major plus for someone like me who has had to supplement their adrenal gland’s production for years with steroids that caused a plethora of negative side effects!

So, you see, cannabis has literally saved my life. It has taken me from a life of pharmaceuticals and limitations to an all-natural lifestyle that has improved my health on every front. Now, I spend my time trying to ensure that others know the benefits of this “miracle drug.” I write about it. I lobby for it. I’m a cannactivist spreading the ganja gospel. It’s the least I can do since this beautiful plant gave me my life back!

Amber Faust

About the author: Amber Faust is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in natural lifestyle pieces and sociopolitical commentary. Amber is a lifelong activist for social justice and environmental issues. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, drumming, meditation, and yoga.