Smoking marijuana helps ease the painful muscle cramping in patients with multiple sclerosis. Several MS patients are already using medical marijuana to treat certain symptoms including spasticity. In spasticity the muscles in the legs and arms contract devastatingly. About four million people in US have MS.
MS is a chronic disease in which the protective coating known as myelin sheath, around nerve fibres begins to break down. A team led by Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom, of the University of California, San Diego, carried out a study involving thirty MS patients. Each patient smoke marijuana or placebo joints, which looked, smelled and tasted like the real one, but lacked the active ingredient in marijuana, known as THC.
Before and after each treatment, an autonomous rater evaluates the patients’ muscle spasticity. On the whole, the study found, events of spasticity declined by an average of three points or about thirty percent on a scale of twenty-four, when patients smoked marijuana, but did not change after smoking the placebo.
There is some science behind the idea because human body naturally produces cannabinoids, the group of chemicals found in marijuana. Moreover studies have suggested the cannabinoid receptors on the cells help control muscle spasticity. The new study was reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study examined the effects, and side effects, of marijuana only for a few days.
Nicholas LaRocca, vice president of healthcare delivery and policy research at the National MS Society, stated the problem of treating spasticity is certainly significant, because it is a big problem for many MS patients and the existing medications do not work for everyone. However, smoking marijuana does seem to be a long-term solution, due to its cognitive effects.
MS patients are already at risk of cognitive changes. But researchers are developing cannabinoid-based medications for MS, including cannabinoid mouth spray called Sativex, which has been approved in the UK, Canada, Spain and New Zealand to treat MS-related spasticity. Research into cannabinoids and spasticity should continue, as drugs may be able to harness the benefits of specific cannabis compounds, added LaRocca.
Lead researcher Dr Corey-Bloom, stated they have heard from patients that marijuana helps their spasticity, but majority of people though, probably, it just make them feel good. Marijuana may help with spasticity, but at cost and the cost is that smoking caused fatigue and dizziness in some users, and generally slowed down people’s mental skills soon after they used marijuana.