Cannabis News: Does cannabis help with Multiple Sclerosis

Cannabis News: Does cannabis help with Multiple Sclerosis

Cannabis News: Does cannabis help with Multiple Sclerosis

Cannabis has been used in ancient Greece, Rome, China, and India for relieving muscle cramps, spasm, and pain and its therapeutic application in MS is capturing the interest of researchers for promising use. Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic condition in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath with the sites of inflammation scarred. Today, numerous drugs target the immune system to delay disease progression but they are only moderately effective, and the treatment of MS remains  symptomatic, high in relapses and far from patients’ satisfaction.

Currently, many patients with multiple sclerosis use cannabis as a supplement to treat the symptoms, such as spasticity, immobility. A survey conducted by Kindred, which was funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, showed that 66% of patients use cannabis for their symptoms [1]. In Particular, a study from Canada found that about 50% of patients would consider cannabis-based products if they are legal and there is enough scientific evidence to support its use [2]. In fact, the increase in social acceptance will lead to growth of patients using cannabis to treat symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Based on these considerations, it is my opinion that CBD supplementation may be added to conventional therapy to treat the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. In this section, we provide an overview of some research about the use of CBD to manage the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.   

Anecdotal reports

The reports showed the efficacy of cannabis smoking or THC given orally in relieving the symptoms of MS. These observations were only designed in small groups of patients. Generally, the data indicated that CBD is beneficial to manage the MS symptoms, such as spasticity, immobility, tremor, and bladder control. Another case study with one MS patient using Nabilone (Synthetic THC) improved muscle spasm, and quality of life.

What does the research say?

The effects of Cannabis extract and synthetic THC on spasticity in patients diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

This is a large multicenter study involving 660 MS patients from over 30 centers  in the US and UK and supported by the UK medical council. The researchers aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of Cannador (Cannabis extract) or Marinol (Synthetic THC) versus placebo on spasticity, tremor, cognition, and bladder function. After 15 week treatment with cannabis compounds, the group receiving CBD showed significant improvements in patient-reported spasticity, pain, sleep quality, as well as a reduction in hospital admission for relapses as compared to placebo. However, no benefits were observed in tremor, irritability, and depression. Since side effects were mainly minor and similar to those with placebo, cannabis therapy for Multiple Sclerosis seems to be a safe option for MS patients in the future [3].

A review of the role of CBD and its combination with THC in Multiple sclerosis treatment

Sativex - a synthetic medication of CBD and THC has been approved to treat plasticity. In animal studies, CBD has shown to delay symptom onset and slow disease progression due to anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, combination of CBD and THC is also effective to treat multiple sclerosis. While CBD suppresses inflammation by preventing cell penetration into the spinal cord, THC reduces the levels of spasticity. However, in human studies, a combination of THC and CBD appears to be effective in reducing spasticity score, and causes less side effects than other treatments, such as Baclofen. The findings of the studies suggest that CBD may help treat neuropathic pain associated with Multiple Sclerosis as add-on therapy to conventional pain treatment [4].

In conclusion, controlled clinical trials with cannabis therapy suggested their efficacy in symptomatic treatment in MS patients. These results pave the way for the use of cannabis treatment of MS and further large-scale studies should be conducted to confirm the benefits of Cannabis therapy.


[1]. Kindred JH, Li K, Ketelhut NB, Proessl F, Fling BW, Honce JM, et al. Cannabis use in people with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis: a web based investigation. Complement Ther Med (2017) 33:99–104.

[2]. Banwell E, Pavisian B, Lee L, Feinstein A. Attitudes to cannabis and patterns of use among Canadians with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Relat Disord (2016) 10:123–6. 10.1016/j.msard.2016.09.008



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