Michael Matthews moved from Halifax to Banff in 1992 to careen up and down mountains on bikes and skis, and of his own volition. His little family moved to Calgary in 1997 when his wife was about to give birth to their son. He works in the fast paced restaurant industry.


When did you discover you had Multiple Sclerosis? What were the symptoms? Did you use traditional pharma drugs to treat? What was recommended to you?

“I was diagnosed in 2004,14 years ago. I was 37. Symptoms included icepick and cluster headaches, hot spots all over face, tingling, numbness in fingers then a numb band from the middle of my chest around my left side to middle of my back. I was prescribed ibuprofen to help with symptoms, if symptoms became more aggressive they suggested different types of interferon or glatiramer acetate. These drugs can run you up to $40,000 a year.”


Are icepick headaches just like they sound?

“Yes. Brief and stabbing.”


When did you start using cannabis with MS in mind?

“I read a lot of research papers on MS, found that dietary/fitness/cannabis regime would be the way to go. I was probably 2 years into being diagnosed before I started using cannabis.”


How did you decide what type you would use? Did it take a few tries to find strains that worked well for you? What ingestion methods do you use? Oil? Dried bud? Other?

“I tried many strains and many delivery methods. With MS there are a number of things to contend with: fatigue, muscle spasms, numbness, loss of balance and poor sleep quality. Indica seemed to help with sleep and eating for me. Sativa seemed to help with energy. Kush was hit and miss, depending on the variety, but seemed to help with spasms and sleep. CBD helps with inflammation and pain. I like Hydro’s After Dinner and CannaFarms Blue Widow and Midnight – Medreleaf to name a few. Edibles work best for me, they hang in longer and they’re a bit more effective with symptoms. I have tried many varieties and strains within. I find for my body and diagnosis, a balanced THC/CBD variety with a good uplift works well in edible form.”


What would you say are the overriding effects from using cannabis for your MS? Are there any side effects good or bad? Do you find it is helping you with any other conditions?

“I haven’t noticed any side effects from using cannabis for MS the past 12 years. I use cannabis like most people use Advil or Tylenol. Different amounts at different times for different symptoms. It relieves rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation better than anything else as well. I still love hiking the mountains and I find it helps recovery.”


What was the most surprising or unexpected result from using cannabis?

“I’ve only had two ice pick headaches since using cannabis. I can’t tell you what a relief that alone is. I am much more even tempered although that could be age! But I suspect it’s also from the CBD as well. As long as you are willing to put time into researching what works best for you and your body, I have discovered that you can fine tune treatment more accurately with different varieties and strains. I am able to maintain an active lifestyle, pain/sleep and fatigue management.”


How has your GP been about cannabis use?  

“My GP was very supportive, so is my neurologist!”


That’s great! We are a self-referral clinic so the choice to maintain privacy is yours, of course. But the circle of care is always more complete if all medical care practitioners are kept aware. Is there anything else you would like to share with others who may be dealing with MS?

“I think every case of MS is unique to the person and body. Some cases are more aggressive than others. There is no cure. Having access to cannabis is a blessing. That, combined with a high level of activity and appropriate diet, has allowed me to keep my symptoms manageable and to be in remission for 12 years. There are no nasty side effects and it’s much more affordable than over-the-counter pain and inflammation relief drugs. I would recommend that anyone with MS research, educate and definitely try cannabis to alleviate their symptoms for a better quality of life.”



— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services. Follow Natural Health Services on Twitter @NatHealthserve.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to check out The Cannabis Show (new episodes every Wednesday) and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Cannabis Show is also available as an audio podcast, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Overcast.

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