Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who consume medical cannabis say they were able to reduce their prescription medicines to manage symptoms of the disease.
The majority of patients who consume medical cannabis report that it offsets symptoms of the disease and reduces their need for prescription medications, according to Survey data published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
A team of investigators from the Yale University-Griffin Prevention Research Center surveyed 115 MS patients about their consumption of cannabis.
Respondents were most likely to report that cannabis was effective in reducing symptoms of pain, insomnia, muscle cramps and spasms, as well as improving mood.
Consistent with studies of other patient populations, “a significant proportion of respondents” reported having either “stopped or reduced” their use of prescription medications after finding cannabis to be more effective for symptom management.
In particular, patients frequently reported reducing or ceasing their use of “opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers and other pain medications” – a finding that is also consistent with other studies.
Authors concluded: “MCU [medical cannabis use] among PWMS [patients with MS] can lead to the reduction or discontinuation of several categories of prescription medications for symptoms of MS.”
In contrast to previous studies patients reporting the most benefits from cannabis tended to have a “milder form of MS with less disability”.
They added: “This study confirms the benefit of cannabis in several common MS symptoms, extending these findings to show that benefit can be related to baseline severity of some symptoms.”
The medicinal use of cannabis is relatively common among people with MS, with an estimated one-in-five patients reporting current use.
Cannabis derived oral extract drug, Sativex, is approved for the treatment of MS-related spasticity in a number of countries, including the UK.
A recent US survey found that more than 40 percent of MS patients said they had used cannabis products in the past year, most likely to try them for help with chronic pain and sleep.
In a previous blog for Cannabis Health, Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser and hon. clinical director at Integro Medical Cannabis Clinics said: “Over the years I have treated many MS patients in my clinics. Whilst they generally receive excellent care for their MS, the secondary conditions such as chronic back pain can be neglected.
“Traditional pharmaceutical pain medicines often have unpleasant side effects such as brain fog and constipation and frequently stop working after a few weeks.
“Cannabis medicines can prove extremely helpful in the pain management of MS patients, because they reduce muscle spasm and inflammation.”
Full text of the study, “Patterns of medical cannabis use among patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” appears in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
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