D60: Disease Progression and Medical Cannabis

Disease Progression and Medical Cannabis: A Complex Interaction

Disease states often evolve through various stages—early, moderate, and advanced—and the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD can impact these stages differently. In some conditions, the symptomatic relief offered by cannabis might be more effective in the earlier stages and less so in the later stages. On the other hand, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis could have a varying impact depending on the disease’s stage.

Example Disease States:

1. Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Research suggests that cannabinoids may help alleviate symptoms like spasticity and pain in the early to moderate stages of MS but could be less effective as the disease progresses (1).

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation and joint damage in early stages but may not be as beneficial in the advanced stages where irreversible joint deformity has occurred (2).

Anti-inflammatory Impact Across Disease States:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): The anti-inflammatory action of cannabis may help control symptoms during flare-ups in the early and moderate stages, but its efficacy in advanced stages with complications like strictures is less clear (3).

Comparison Table

Disease StageImpact of THCImpact of CBDImpact of THC + CBD
Early (e.g., MS)Reduces SpasticityAlleviates painCombined effect
Moderate (e.g., MS)Reduced effectivenessReduced effectivenessCombined effect
Advanced (e.g., MS)Symptom Support, PalliationSymptom Support, PalliationSymptom Support, Palliation


  1. Zajicek, J., et al. “Cannabinoids for treatment of spasticity and other symptoms related to multiple sclerosis (CAMS study): multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial.” The Lancet 362.9395 (2003): 1517-1526.
  2. Blake, David R., et al. “Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.” Rheumatology 45.1 (2006): 50-52.
  3. Lal, Simon, et al. “Cannabis use amongst patients with inflammatory bowel disease.” European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology 23.10 (2011): 891-896.

Cautionary Note:

Individuals with the following medical illnesses and diagnoses should exercise caution when considering cannabinoid therapies and contact Dr. Caplan at CED Clinic for expert guidance:

  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Psychiatric Disorders like Schizophrenia
  • Liver Disease

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Cover of The Doctor-Approved Cannabis Handbook featuring a green medical plus symbol
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