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Medical Marijuana News: Is It An Effective Therapy To Treat MS Symptoms?

Update Date: Jan 18, 2017 11:08 PM EST

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease, still has no cure. However, many patients living with MS will greatly benefit from a treatment that would ease the symptoms associated with the disease. Despite debates on whether cannabis or medical marijuana is effective in treating various symptoms, a team of researchers is weighing if medical marijuana is indeed effective in treating MS symptoms.

An estimated 400,000 people are currently living with MS, an autoimmune disease where the immune cells of the body attack a fatty substance dubbed as myelin in the nerves. This leads to symptoms such as balance and gait disorders, cognitive dysfunction, pain, fatigue and muscle spasticity. However, currently, available treatment options do not entirely relieve the symptoms of MS.

Now, medical marijuana has been seen as a potential alternative in relieving these symptoms. Researchers at the Colorado State University are studying whether cannabis can safely and effectively treat MS symptoms. However, due to current federal regulations, their laboratory can conduct only observational studies and in order to perform clinical trials, they need a special license.

In a survey of 139 MS patients currently using medical marijuana, they found that 91 of the respondents or 66 percent reported using cannabis. About 56 percent reported using smoked or edible products. Of the users, 78 percent admitted they even stopped taking MS drugs and they reported lower disability scores on the Guy's Neurological Disability Scale. Despite the promising results of the survey, no conclusions can be drawn since these are all self-reported.

"Our preliminary results indicate that people with MS using cannabis have greater physical activity levels, leg strength, and walking speed, while also having less spasticity, fatigue and a lower perceived risk of falling," Thorsten Rudroff from the Colorado State University, wrote for Live Science.

"It is of note that these individuals are rarely using only cannabis to help control their symptoms. They are often using cannabis alongside traditional medications," he added.

Other institutions are convinced about the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating some diseases. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences released a groundbreaking report on the health effects of cannabis. The report states that there is indeed a conclusive evidence that marijuana can be used as a medicine.

"This report is vindication for all the many researchers, patients and healthcare providers who have long understood the benefits of medical marijuana," Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said as reported by the Daily Chronic.

"To have such a thorough review of the evidence conclude that there are benefits to medical marijuana should boost the case for federal reform. It also underlines how out of touch the DEA and other marijuana reform opponents are when they claim otherwise," he added.

In the report published in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts shows that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticities.

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