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Study explores cannabis use by patients with MS in America

A small study, which explored cannabis use by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in a state in America where cannabis is legal, has highlighted their drug use preferences.

The study set out to evaluate MS patients’ cannabis use, focusing on: prevalence, product types used (e.g. smoked cannabis vs edibles), symptoms treated and patient characteristics.   

Some studies have suggested cannabis may improve symptoms like muscle spasm and pain in MS patients. However, there is little research exploring the extent and reasons for cannabis use among MS patients, particularly in a state where cannabis is recreationally available.  

Twenty-five patients from the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Centre at the University of Colorado completed questions assessing willingness to use cannabis in MS treatment, previous and current use, impact of cannabis on MS symptoms, MS history and demographics.

The results revealed 56% of respondents believe cannabis has some benefit on MS symptoms, 8% thought it causes some harm and 24% were unsure. Nineteen (76%) respondents indicated they would consider cannabis to manage their MS. Seven (28%) patients reported cannabis use in the past year; 71% medicinal, 0% recreational, and 29% both.

Three (43%) cannabis users preferred CBD-only products and three (43%) preferred products with similar quantities of CBD/THC. CBD (Cannabidiol) oil is made from strains of cannabis that contain low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is what makes marijuana psychoactive. Cannabis products were mostly used for pain (57%), spasticity or muscle tightness (29%), or muscle spasm (14%). Slowed thinking was the most common side effect (29%).

Of the respondents, 12 (48%) where not currently using cannabis, four (33%) indicated this was because it is illegal and six (50%) because they do know enough about it.

Researchers concluded that as cannabis becomes more available under the laws of individual states in America, the results of this ongoing study may have important implications in the future landscape of MS symptom treatment and research exploring the efficacy of cannabis for MS symptom management.

This research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 2018 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, America, 21-27 April.

Source: MS-UK 19/04/18

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