Another study has found that marijuana can ease pain and muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
Researchers at the University of Plymouth in England studied 279 MS patients over a 12 week period, assessing the use of cannabis extracts versus a placebo. The patients were given soft gelatin capsules containing standardized doses of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in cannabis and cannabidiol (CHB), a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“Treatment with standardized oral extract of cannabis sativa relieved muscle stiffness,” the researchers said in a report published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. “The proportion of participants experiencing relief was almost twice as large in the cannabis group as in the placebo group.”
The researchers noted that cannabis extracts were particularly effective for patients who had high pain scores.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system. Chronic symptoms of the disease include muscle stiffness, spasms, pain and insomnia.
Another recent study, published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, found that smoking marijuana significantly reduced muscle spasticity and pain in patients with treatment-resistant MS.
Sativex, an oral spray containing cannabinoids, is legally prescribed to treat MS-related symptoms in over a dozen countries, including Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Spain.
The National MS Society of the United States, however, has discouraged the use of marijuana for MS symptoms. In a paper issued by its National Clinical Advisory Board in 2011, the society called for more studies on the long-term effects of marijuana use by MS patients and for research focused on marijuana that was inhaled, rather than administered orally.
“There is a very real need for additional therapies to treat stubborn and often painful symptoms of MS,” says the society. “However, based on the studies to date – and the fact that long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant, serious side effects, it is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Medical Advisory Board that there are currently insufficient data to recommend marijuana or its derivatives as a treatment for MS symptoms.”