The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report scrutinizing cannabis and cannabinoid research to investigate the health benefits and hazards of hemp and marijuana. One of the only conditions approved by this report was cannabis for MS.
Cannabis for MS reduces spasticity symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today reports on the National Academies’ report stating cannabis compounds ease spasticity. It further states cannabinoids shows proven effects for MS but comes with possible health risks.
Marie McCormick, the chairwoman of the committee, says they evaluated 10,000 scientific abstracts gathered since 1999 and reached 100 conclusions. Studies covered medical and recreational use, and the use of natural and man-made cannabinoids.
McCormick, a professor at Harvard Medical School, said the in-depth review is to establish areas that need further investigation. As laws and policies change, so research must also change.
Alternative treatment of MS
Research shows MS patients seek alternative treatments. The committee specifically looked at the effectiveness of cannabis for spasticity in MS. Two randomized trials were looked at with placebo controls. Data published revealed nabiximols, and nabilone (cannabis-based medications) significantly improved spasticity. Nabiximols and THC administered orally were seen as “probably effective.”
The orally administered cannabis got tagged as being effective according to patient-reported spasticity scores. The committee also examined reports using clinical tools to measure the reduction in spasticity, including the Ashworth scale. One systematic review using the scale reported insignificant improvements.
Another study at first classed cannabinoids as being “probably ineffective,” but as the trial progressed, the finding was modified to a “possibly effective” rating.
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The committee commented on the reliability of the Ashworth scale as it has been criticized as unreliable and insensitive. It only records passive resistance to movement and excludes other spasticity traits.
Hazardous health effects?
Hazards the report highlighted were increased motor vehicle accidents amongst cannabis users and more children accidentally poisoned in states where medical marijuana has been approved.
Health hazards of cannabis include indications that its use may be related to certain testicular cancers. However, this has not been conclusively proven. When smoked by pregnant mothers it could increase the risk of cancer in the child and cause low birth weight. Cannabis smoking is linked to airway inflammatory episodes, but there is no conclusive evidence of cannabis smoking causing asthma or other respiratory diseases. Other methods of administration such as consuming cannabis oil were not evaluated.
Cannabis for MS
The fact that cannabis for MS came out tops in this review can give any MS patient real hope in the usefulness of the treatment. It seems that further research will be imminent, and we hope that it will produce solid findings that will help people living with MS.