Researchers have found that smoking cannabis (marijuana) can help in relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
This study has been published online in the May 15 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
Researchers worked on 30 adult patients of MS at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. They divided the patients into two groups. One was the intervention group receiving the smoked cannabis for three days and the other was the control group receiving the smoked identical placebo cigarettes for three days. After the wash-out period of 11 days, the participants of both the groups were crossed over to the other substance.
Researchers measured the intensity of muscle tone by using the modified Ashworth scale that works by knowing the resistance in the range of motion and rigidity. Pain, which is the secondary outcome, was measured by using a visual analogue scale. Physical performance and cognitive function was also assessed. The patients were also asked at each visit to check their feelings of “highness”.
“We found that smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing symptoms and pain in patients with treatment-resistant spasticity, or excessive muscle contractions,” said Jody Corey-Bloom, lead researcher, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UC San Diego.
Smoking cannabis was found to affect the attention and concentration of the patients to a slight extant and researchers have pointed-on to further studies with lower doses to check for beneficial effects with reduced cognitive impact.
Jody Corey-Bloom, Tanya Wolfson, Anthony Gamst, Shelia Jin, Thomas D. Marcotte, Heather Bentley, Ben Gouaux, (2012). Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. CMAJ, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.110837