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More research is needed to understand the potential benefits of CBD for multiple sclerosis symptoms. But initial evidence is promising.

Healthline has sole editorial control over this article. Potential uses for the products listed here are not health claims made by the manufacturers. The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. It’s not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional. Healthline encourages you to make any treatment decisions with your healthcare professional.

Some people with chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), use cannabidiol (CBD) to help reduce their symptoms. While the research is still inconclusive, CBD shows some promise as a helpful tool for alleviating chronic pain and discomfort related to MS and other various conditions.

Below, we look specifically at how CBD may help people manage their MS symptoms. We also talk about how to take CBD, how to shop for it, and a few of the best products to consider.

Some people use CBD to help manage chronic pain as an alternative to medications with the potential for misuse, such as opioids. Currently, there’s not enough research to verify CBD’s pain-relieving benefits. But what we know so far is encouraging.

Some symptoms of MS that CBD may help with are:


A 2018 review suggested that CBD is an effective pain management tool with few side effects. The studies looked at pain resulting from:

A 2022 review concludes that CBD is an “excellent alternative” to opioids for chronic pain, but points out that more research is needed to prove its efficacy.


Researchers have also looked at CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects. A 2015 animal study suggested that rats with arthritis receiving 6.2 milligrams (mg) of CBD per day had less swelling and pain than those not receiving any CBD.

The results are interesting, but studies on humans are necessary to confirm the findings.

MS symptoms

Some studies have also looked specifically at whether CBD might help people with MS manage their symptoms. However, most of the research examines the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD together in the form of an oromucosal spray called Sativex.

According to research from 2014, Sativex is likely an effective treatment option for MS-related symptoms, such as spasticity, urinary infrequency, and pain.

A 2018 study that looked into the effect of Sativex on the driving ability of people with MS found that people taking the spray didn’t have an increase in vehicle accidents. People also reported having improved driving abilities, possibly because of reduced spasticity.

Another 2018 study explained that cannabis products with a 1-to-1 CBD-to-THC ratio may reduce muscle spasticity and pain in people with MS. Cannabis may also reduce inflammation-related fatigue, which may, in turn, improve mobility in those with MS.

And according to a 2021 study involving 28 people with MS, those treated with medical cannabis oils saw reductions in spasticity, pain intensity, and sleep disruptions.

The National MS Society advocates for the legalization of cannabis at the state level and seeks to remove federal barriers to researching medical cannabis. They also note that some clinical trials have shown that non-smoked CBD and THC show modest benefits for reducing pain and spasticity in people with MS.

However, they note that there are currently no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved cannabis-based medications for MS.

We chose these products based on the criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.

Each product in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3% THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

As a part of our selection process, we also considered:

  • the company’s certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
    • customer reviews
    • if the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter
    • if the company makes any unsupported health claims

CBD is an extract from the cannabis plant that’s markedly different from THC because it doesn’t produce that “high” feeling usually associated with cannabis.

There are many cannabinoids in cannabis, but CBD and THC are the two you have probably heard of the most.

The research on CBD is still emerging, but there’s promising evidence that it may have therapeutic benefits, such as alleviating pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

There are three types of CBD: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.

CBD isolate is pure CBD. It doesn’t contain THC or any other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Because it’s so highly refined, there’s a risk that isolate products may contain solvents from the extraction process.

That’s why it’s essential to look for products that come with a COA. Third-party testing checks for ingredients left behind during the purification process.

Broad-spectrum CBD doesn’t contain THC but does contain other cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD has very small amounts of THC and may work better than other forms of CBD due to the entourage effect.

Right now, there’s only one CBD drug on the market that’s been approved by the FDA: Epidiolex, which is prescribed for rare forms of epilepsy.

CBD is available in several forms, including:

  • Oils and tinctures: These liquids are ingested orally by placing drops under the tongue. Both oils and tinctures are good choices for those who have trouble swallowing pills.
  • Creams and lotions: Topical CBD products, such as creams and lotions, are best for muscle and joint pain. Topicals aren’t appropriate for whole body issues, like insomnia.
  • Capsules and gummies: Capsules and pills are convenient ways to address whole body issues. But not everyone feels comfortable swallowing them. CBD in this form can also take some time to produce effects. Gummies are a good option for those who don’t like the idea of taking a pill or capsule.
  • Vaping: Experts don’t suggest taking CBD this way because of potential adverse health effects.

Here are a few questions to ask when shopping for CBD.

Which type of CBD is this?

To get the full benefits of the entourage effect, choose a full-spectrum product. If you want to avoid THC altogether, opt for CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD.

Keep in mind that any CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, which could show up on a drug test.

Does the company test their products in a third-party lab?

The FDA doesn’t test or guarantee the safety of over-the-counter CBD products. The FDA can send warning letters to companies making health claims that they shouldn’t, but that’s about it.

That’s why a quality product should come with a COA that confirms it’s free of contaminants and contains the CBD (and THC) noted on the label.

What’s in this CBD product?

Look for products that say they contain hemp, hemp extract, or hemp oil. Products that say they contain hemp seed or hempseed oil do not contain CBD.

It’s also a good idea to check where the company sources their ingredients. Look for products that contain organic, U.S.-grown hemp.

CBD is considered generally safe, but there’s still a potential risk of side effects. Some people may experience adverse effects, including:

  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • weight changes
  • appetite changes

Always talk with your doctor before trying CBD. This is particularly important if you’re currently taking any medications. CBD may interact with certain medications, especially those with a grapefruit warning.

More research into using CBD to help manage MS symptoms is needed to further understand how CBD may play a role in the lives of people with MS.

Current research suggests that CBD alone may help with insomnia and chronic pain, including nerve pain. Since people with MS may experience these symptoms, CBD may help them manage their condition.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.