Medical Cannabis – Does it Treat Multiple Sclerosis?


Medical cannabis is a rapidly emerging research area in medicine. A number of people worldwide are studying the effects of this substance on various diseases. The potential areas range from skincare to mental disorders. Recently a number of cannabis medications have been investigated for the potential treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is characterized by two major symptoms of pain and spasticity. Medical Cannabis is a tested remedy for both of these symptoms.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK  recommended the use of THC: CBD spray for treating spasticity in 2019. However, they set a condition that the patients must see at least a 20% reduction in spasticity-related symptoms in a 4-week trial of the spray. In addition, access to this treatment was limited and administration was supervised by a specialist clinician as well as generally low prescriptions.

Since the prescription amount for this treatment is so low, data collection is very hard in this case. However, that did not stop more people to look into the prospects of this treatment. In a review published in the Journal, ‘Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports’ authors try to find such evidence. They tried to find various cases that link the use of medical cannabis and cannabinoids in treating Multiple Sclerosis.


Defining MS:

Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a medical condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is a lifelong neuroinflammatory disease that can lead to severe disability in patients. The common symptoms of MS include spasticity, weakness, sensory disturbances, painful spasms, ataxia, tremor, optic neuritis, and complex ophthalmoplegia, fatigue, and dysphagia.

A common age for diagnosis of this disease is the 20s and 30s. it usually starts in two ways, either the person relapses or the symptoms grow gradually. We still don’t know what the actual cause of MS. However, medical professionals link it with genetics as well as environmental factors.

In recent years medical cannabis has emerged as a potential treatment for MS. The MS Society of UK reports that “One in five people with MS we surveyed in 2014 told us they’d used cannabis to help with their symptoms.” People who partook in this survey claimed that using cannabis helped them treat the symptoms of pain and muscle stiffness.

Further Medical Evidence:

Recently researches focused on a total of eleven previous papers that discussed the efficacy of medical cannabis. Two of these reviews published by Cochrane discussed ataxia and tremor, and spasticity. However, the other nine papers focused on MS more broadly and discussed the use of cannabis compounds. Majority of which reported therapeutic results on this painful disability.

Moreover, the literature review concludes that there is favorable evidence that medical cannabis has positive effects on pain and muscle spasticity. However, they were unable to find conclusive evidence suggesting a remedy for MS. There is no proof that links cannabinoids with the treatment of  MS symptoms like bladder control, ataxia, and tremor.

This leads us to determine that although there were some promising findings in the field. The researchers still need a lot of thought and study on the topic before declaring it as a remedy. A good way for that is to have more and more medical trials. Uk is already working on a Trial System for patients using medical cannabis. We can only hope that the NHS include this treatment on their list as well.

Alan Bert: