Scientists at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. looked at the medicinal use of cannabinoids compared to a placebo in 279 patients with MS over a 12-week period, reports NORML. Cannabis extracts used in the study contained standardized amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), two of the major medicinal cannabinoids in the plant.
The orally administered marijuana extracts were “superior” over a placebo in the treatment of MS-associated muscle stiffness and pain, investigators reported.
“Treatment with standardized oral extract of cannabis sativa relieved muscle stiffness,” the authors concluded. “The proportion of participants experiencing relief was almost twice as large in the cannabis extract group as in the placebo group.”
“Effective pain relief is also achieved by cannabis extracts, especially in patients with a high baseline score,” the investigators reported. “Our findings suggest that standardized cannabis extracts can be clinically useful in treating the highly complex phenomenon of spasticity in MS.”
The study’s results provided back-up for clinical trial data from the University of California San Diego, published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, which in May reported that cannabis inhalation significantly reduces spasticity and pain in patients with treatment-resistant multiple sclerosis.
Several clinical trials looking at the effectiveness of oral cannabis extracts on MS patients have indicated that cannabinoids can not only relieve symptoms of the the disease, but may also act in ways the slow the progression of the disease.
Sativex, an oral spray from GW Pharmaceutical which contains the cannabinoids THC and CBD in a one-to-one ratio, is already legal for prescription to MS patients in more than a dozen countries, including Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Germany and Spain.
However, for apparently political (as opposed to medical) reasons, the National MS Society of the United States seems to have little enthusiasm for marijuana in treating MS, issuing borderline-misleading statements like “Studies completed thus far have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana or its derivatives provide substantiated benefits for symptoms of MS.”