Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and breaks down communication between nerves that is essential for the body. A new study has found that marijuana can help treat some symptoms of the harmful disease.
In some states, medical marijuana is prescribed for muscle spasms, chronic pain, and/or muscle stiffness, which are symptoms that multiple sclerosis patients suffer from. After reviewing more than 30 studies on the effects of medical marijuana, researchers at the American Academy of Neurology determined that the drug could help treat MS patients with these symptoms.
However, the researchers found that marijuana administered orally, through either pills or oral sprays, were found to alleviate MS symptoms. Smoking marijuana revealed inconclusive evidence, but only in two studies. It’s harder for researchers to document the level of active compounds consumed with each inhalation, so they used more definitive administrations of the drug. Over 1,600 patients were examined in all of the studies combined, and the researchers’ compiled analysis will be published tomorrow in the journal Neurology.
“What we’re really hoping is, a lot more studies will come from this,” said Barbara Koppel, chief of neurology at New York Medical College and one of the authors, in this Oregonian news article. “There’s a place for it, and more work will need to be done to find out where its indications will be.”
There were very minimal and non-serious side effects based on the studies that were analyzed. A total of 7% of the patients dropped out of their respective study because they experienced nausea, increased weakness, mood changes, and depression. Suicidal thoughts and hallucinations also occurred in one percent of the participants.
Nonetheless, the benefits witnessed in MS patients who were immune to standard treatments could result in marijuana’s favor. The causes of MS are unknown, there is no single test to diagnose it, and there is no cure for it. For such a disease, any progress to help slow it down and control symptoms would be beneficial.