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Cannabis can treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research suggests
Breaking Israel News reports on the latest Israeli research into cannabinoids as a possible treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and related disorders. The research, conducted at Tel Aviv University focuses on the ways in which cannabinoids, compounds found in marijuana and hemp, can reduce inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, thereby providing protection for the nervous system of MS sufferers. Research findings have been published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.
CBD or THC?
THC, the notorious compound responsible for the ‘high’ recreational pot users seek out, was not used in the study. Instead, the researchers focused on another Cannabinoid, CBD, which has no psychoactive properties and is thus believed to have the greatest potential for medical use owing to its lack of side-effects.
The news report notes that CBD has already shown great promise for use as a treatment for anxiety and as an anti-inflammatory. A trial conducted in 2011 provided early indications of a possible use for CBD in the treatment of MS. However, it should be noted that this study, as well as its more recent counterpart was conducted using mice in which an MS-like state was induced before treatment with CBD.
A report published in Expert Review of Therapeutics in 2011 commented on the growing evidence in favour of Cannabinoids in human patients, this time focusing on Sativex, a registered pharmaceutical containing THC. It found that the drug showed ‘promise’ when combined with established MS medications.
Cannabis Multiple Sclerosis : How does the new study contribute to current knowledge?
Instead of just looking at whether CBD may be helpful in treating MS-like symptoms, the researchers determined how CBD would actually work. They found that Either CBD or THC were effective in suppressing the production of inflammatory agents in the immune cells of mice, thereby reducing the potential damage caused to the brain and spinal cord.
Are cannabinoids prescribed for MS sufferers?
While researchers are excited about the potential of cannabinoids in the treatment of MS, they call for further studies. However, they comment that CBD and THC medications are already prescribed for MS patients in a number of countries, mainly as a means of relieving pain.
Meanwhile, the National MS Society advises patients to be cautious about remaining on the right side of the law should they choose to attempt Cannabis self-medication, and lists a number of studies that seem to provide further evidence for the possible use of cannabinoids to treat not only pain and muscular stiffness, but also tremors. However, the organisation warns that THC side effects must be taken into account should patients use herbal marijuana or the pharmaceutical Sativex.
The new Israeli research suggests that both THC and non-psychoactive CBD may do more than simply treat the more obvious MS symptoms. Further research confirming this finding will certainly be welcomed by patients who prefer to keep a clear head while combating their condition.