An estimated 350,000 people in the United States are living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a painful, debilitating, and sometimes fatal disorder of the central nervous system, and the United States government could care less and would doom this population to more suffering than can be imagined. A long list of ugly words comes to mind when one thinks of any person, organization or institution that would keep helpful and safe medicines away from MS sufferers.
MS is the most common debilitating neurological disease of young people, often appearing between the ages of 20 and 40, and affecting more women than men. Symptoms vary considerably from person to person; however, the one most frequently noted is spasticity, which causes pain, spasms, loss of function, and difficulties in nursing care.
MS exacerbations appear to be caused by abnormal immune activity that causes inflammation and the destruction of myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers, in the brain or spinal cord. MS most frequently presents at onset as a relapsing and remitting disorder, where symptoms come and go. Current treatment of MS is primarily based on symptoms, focusing on such problems as spasticity, pain, fatigue, bladder problems and depression.
Anecdotal reports and a small controlled study have reported that cannabis improved spasticity and, to some extent, improved tremor in MS patients. Many studies of the pharmacology of cannabis have identified effects on motor systems of the central nervous system that have the potential of affecting tremor and spasticity. A recent carefully controlled study of the efficacy of THC in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, the animal model of MS, demonstrated significant amelioration of these two MS symptoms. Moreover, cannabis has demonstrated effects on immune function that also have the potential of reducing the autoimmune attack that is thought to be the underlying pathogenic process in MS.
MS patients report that cannabis has a startling and profound effect on muscle spasms, tremors, balance, bladder control, speech and eyesight. Many wheelchair-bound patients report that they can walk unaided when they have smoked cannabis.
A House of Lords report states that the British Multiple Sclerosis Society (consisting of some 35,000 MS-suffering patients) estimates that as many as 4% of their population already use cannabis for the relief of their symptoms despite the considerable legal risks associated with prohibition. The chairman of the committee went on to state that, “We have seen enough evidence to convince us that a doctor might legitimately want to prescribe cannabis to relieve… the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and that the criminal law ought not to stand in the way.”
Numerous case studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in patients treated with cannabinoids for symptoms including spasticity,,, chronic pain, tremor, sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder dysfunctions, vision dimness, dysfunctions of walking and balance (ataxia), and memory loss.,, Cannabinoids have been shown in animal models to measurably lessen MS symptoms and may also halt the progression of the disease.
A recent British survey of MS patients found that 43 percent of respondents used cannabis therapeutically. Among them, nearly three quarters said that cannabis mitigated their spasms, and more than half said it alleviated their pain. A survey published in August 2003 in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences reported that 96 percent of Canadian MS patients believe that cannabis is therapeutically useful for treating the disease. Of those who admitted using cannabis medicinally, the majority found it to be beneficial, particularly in the treatment of chronic pain, spasticity, and depression.
A U.K. study published recently in the journal Lancet looked at 630 multiple sclerosis patients after 15 weeks of orally delivered treatment. Fifty-seven percent of the patients taking a whole cannabis extract said their pain had eased compared with 50% who took capsules containing THC and 37% who were given placebo capsules.
Scientists have long been exploring the potential of cannabinoids to inhibit neurodegeneration. A 2003 study that the American MS Society calls “interesting and potentially exciting” demonstrated that cannabinoids were able to slow the disease process in mice by offering neuroprotection against EAE. After analyzing the findings, authors at London’s Institute of Neurology concluded, “In addition to symptom management, cannabis may also slow down the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis and probably other diseases.” 
Over 40 medicines are listed by the Multiple Sclerosis Society as commonly used by MS patients. Drugs commonly prescribed for muscle spasticity and tremor include Klonopin, Dantrium, Baclofen (Medtronic), Zanaflex and Valium. Klonopin (Clonazepam) and Valium (diazepam) are both benzodiazepines, central nervous system (CNS) depressants manufactured by Roche. Overdoses of these medications, especially when taken with alcohol, may lead to unconsciousness and death.
These drugs frequently cause people to become drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, clumsy, or unsteady. Other common side effects include slurred speech, abdominal cramps or pain, blurred vision or other changes in vision, changes in sexual drive or performance, gastrointestinal changes, including constipation or diarrhea, dryness of mouth, fast or pounding heartbeat, muscle spasm, trouble with urination, and trembling. Studies in animals have shown that clonazepam and diazepam can cause birth defects or other problems, including death of the animal fetus. Overuse of clonazepam during pregnancy may cause the baby to become dependent on it and it may pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness, slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, or troubled breathing in nursing babies. By comparison, the side effects associated with cannabis are typically mild and are classified as “low risk.” Euphoric mood changes are among the most frequent side effects.
Some doctors are exceptionally dense when it comes to using medical marijuana. Dr. Jacqueline Friedman would rather inject botulinum toxin injections instead. In 2009 the National Multiple Sclerosis Society released recommendations on marijuana as a treatment for MS, stating, “Although it is clear that cannabinoids have a potential for both management of MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity, as well as for neuroprotection, it cannot yet be recommended because … studies to date do not demonstrate a clear benefit compared to existing symptomatic therapies and… issues of side effects, systemic effects and long-term effects are not yet clear.”
Magnesium and MS
Although the cause remains officially unknown, multiple sclerosis is widely thought to begin as an autoimmune inflammation with magnesium deficiency at the core. In studies it’s been shown that there was a significantly lower value of magnesium than that seen in control cases. The most marked reduction of magnesium content was observed in CNS white matter including demyelinated plaques of MS samples.
Magnesium protects the cells from aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium and nickel. Evidence is mounting that low levels of magnesium contribute to the heavy metal deposition in the brain that precedes Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Research has shown that the symptoms of MS are very similar to mercury poisoning. Mercury contamination is one major cause of inflammation in our bodies.
Magnesium deficiency causes and underpins chronic inflammatory syndrome. Inflammation is the missing link to explain the role of magnesium in many pathological conditions. Dr. Mazur says, “Magnesium deficiency contributes to an exaggerated response to immune stress and oxidative stress is the consequence of the inflammatory response.” Magnesium deficiencies feed the fires of inflammation and pain and it is magnesium that modulates cellular events involved in inflammation. Increases in extracellular magnesium concentration cause a decrease in the inflammatory response while reduction in the extracellular magnesium results in cell activation.
Magnesium is central to immunocompetence and plays a crucial role in natural and adaptive immunity.
MS sufferers have a wide variety of symptoms that often begin rather abruptly and proceed at a highly variable and unpredictable pace. Common early symptoms include numbness, pins and needles sensations, incoordination, weakness especially in the legs, painful loss of vision in one eye, double vision, dizziness, pain at various sites, urinary symptoms and impotence. Symptoms of MS that are also symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms, weakness, twitching, muscle atrophy, an inability to control the bladder, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), hearing loss, and osteoporosis.
What is essential to remember about treating pain with magnesium is it treats both the symptom and the cause of pain.
Researchers have found oral magnesium therapy effective on patients with multiple sclerosis. In one formally reported case a 35-year-old woman suffered with severe spastic paraplegia resulting from multiple sclerosis (MS). A significant improvement in the spasticity was found after only one week from the onset of the treatment on the modified Ashworth scale, an improvement in the range of motion and in the measures of angles at resting position in the lower limbs.
Nystagmus is characterized by an involuntary movement of the eyes, often noted as a shaky or wiggly movement and has been directly tied to magnesium deficiencies. People with MS also have higher rates of epilepsy than controls. Epilepsy has also been linked to magnesium deficiencies. Without doubt magnesium supplementation accompanied by pH control via diet and the use of sodium bicarbonate will do wonders for not only multiple sclerosis patients but also Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease sufferers.
The relatively low prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Japan, despite its temperate latitude, has puzzled many researchers. We know though that their soils have some of the world’s highest known levels of iodine caused by the use of seaweed as a fertilizer. Deficiencies of this essential trace element appear to be associated with many diseases, or birth defects, including goiter, cretinism, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and cancer of the thyroid and nervous system. People with MS may also have low levels of selenium or of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme produced from selenium. A theory explaining the pathogenesis of MS concerns an increased stickiness of cellular plasma membranes, hampering normal vascular function of the brain. In agreement with that theory researchers have found significantly lowered selenium values and lowered glutathione peroxidase activities.
MS and Mercury Exposure
The central nervous system is extremely sensitive and reacts to a combination of factors that allopathic doctors don’t normally consider or address. Toxic exposures, nutritional deficiencies and emotional anguish converge most pointedly on the nervous system with often catastrophic results. Toxic substances such as mercury, which the body is chronically exposed to, accumulates in the brain, pituitary gland, CNS, liver, kidneys, etc. and can damage, inhibit, and cause imbalances at very low levels of exposure. Heavy metals can cause major neurological, immunological, and metabolic damage.
Each individual will be seen to have their own unique combination of neurological, endocrine, and enzymatic imbalances along with autoimmunities that result from the above factors. Symptoms will vary resulting in different diagnoses: multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), or Parkinson’s disease (PD), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and even rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Dental amalgam is documented by medical studies and medical lab tests to be the largest source of both inorganic and methyl mercury in most people who have several mercury amalgam fillings. Very low levels of exposure have been found to seriously affect individuals who are immune sensitive to toxic metals, or have an inability to detoxify metals due to deficient sulfoxidation or metallothionein function or other inhibited enzymatic processes related to detoxification or excretion of metals.
Amalgam exposures are commonly above government health guidelines. This is due to continuous vaporization of mercury from amalgam in the mouth, along with galvanic currents from mixed metals in the mouth that deposit the mercury in the gums and oral cavity. Mercury is one of the most toxic substances in existence and is known to bioaccumulate in the body of people and animals that have chronic exposure.
A large epidemiological study of 35,000 Americans by the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s principal health statistics agency, found that there was a significant correlation between having a greater than average number of dental amalgam surfaces and having chronic conditions such as epilepsy, MS, or migraine headaches. MS clusters in areas with high metals emissions from facilities such as metal smelters have been documented.
Mercury has been found to accumulate preferentially in the brain, major organs, hormone glands, and primary motor function related areas involved in ALS—such as the brain stem, cerebellum, rhombencephalon, dorsal root ganglia, and anterior horn motor neurons, which enervate the skeletal muscles.
Exposure to mercury and magnesium deficiencies are at the root of inflammation. Chelation of mercury will relieve many of the problems caused by it and restoring magnesium levels will protect our cells from the inflammation that mercury causes. Magnesium is a necessary factor in chelation, for without it chelation will not be successful. Heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury compete with nutritional magnesium, keeping it from availability to protect our cells. The healthy cell wall favors intake of nutrients and elimination of waste products and this is one of the reasons magnesium is so important in detoxification and chelation.
MS Seen through a Vascular Surgeon’s Eyes
Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a former vascular surgeon and professor at the University of Ferrara in northern Italy, has come upon an entirely new idea about what causes MS and how to treat it. He found that scientists who had studied the brains of MS patients had noticed higher levels of iron in their brain, not accounted for by age. The iron deposits had a unique pattern, often forming in the core of the brain, clustered around the veins that normally drain blood from the head. No one had ever fully explained this phenomenon, considering the excess iron a toxic byproduct of the MS itself. Using Doppler ultrasound, Dr. Zamboni began examining the necks of MS patients and found that almost 100 percent of the patients had a narrowing, twisting or outright blockage of the veins that are supposed to flush blood from the brain. He then checked these veins in healthy people, and found none of these malformations. Nor did he find these blockages in those with other neurological conditions.
What was astounding was that not only was the blood not flowing out of the brain, it was “refluxing” or reversing and flowing back upwards. Zamboni dubbed the vein disorder he discovered CCSVI, or chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, and began publishing his preliminary research in neurology journals. He soon found that the severity of the vein blockages corresponded to the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Patients with only one vein blocked usually had milder forms of the disease; those with two or more damaged veins had more severe illness.
If key veins of MS patients are blocked, perhaps we can open them and restore normal blood flow? Yes doctors use balloons to open up blocked arteries that feed blood from the heart but there are many natural treatments that can help, such as using niacin and different enzymes as well as removing the heavy-metal buildups with chelation.
 Cannabinoids are chemicals that are found naturally in Marijuana. Researchers believe that these naturally found cannabinoids could create immune suppression. Much like steroids, but with fewer side effects, cannabinoids can "switch off" a portion of the immune response and bring down inflammation and hyperactivity of immune cells, possibly preventing or slowing some of the damage caused to the myelin by immune cells. The cannabinoids do this by interacting with the receptors on specific immune cells. http://ms.about.com/b/2009/05/19/chemical-in-marijuana-to-slow-multiple-sclerosis.htm
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 Commentary by Dr. Jacqueline Friedman:
“Cognitive deficits are increasingly being appreciated as a significant symptom in MS, affecting daily lives and careers. Given the variable and subjective results of cannabis findings thus far, the clear cognitive negative effects, and given that there are alternative treatments for spasticity and pain, including muscle relaxants, botulinum toxin injections, anti-epileptics, and tricyclics, which can be carefully measured and dosed, I see no current place for medical marijuana in our armamentarium at this time.” Her peer review comment to a study showing the benefits of cannabis treatment in MS. http://www.clinicalcorrelations.org/?p=2688
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 Magnesium ions constitute the physiologically active magnesium in the body; they are not attached to other substances and are free to join in biochemical body processes.5 This is one basic reason magnesium helps to detoxify toxic chemicals and helps eliminate heavy metals from the body. Another reason would be the part it plays in glutathione production but undoubtedly, as Dr. Haley indicates, the Mg-ATP provides the crucial energy to remove each toxicant. A magnesium ion is an atom that is missing two electrons, which makes it search to attach to something that will replace its missing electrons so it is actively and directly involved in diminishing heavy metal toxicity. Magnesium appears to be a competitive inhibitor of lead and cadmium. An increased level of magnesium has been shown to eliminate lead and cadmium through the urine and has also been reported to reduce the toxic effects of aluminum.