Medical marijuana is starting to prove its worth and gain traction among the health community, particularly for those suffering from various ailments. Those suffering from multiple sclerosis, (MS) are just one group that have been reporting eased symptoms after using the controversial drug. Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are completely broken. Due to the damage, those who suffer from the disease tend to experience a wide range of symptoms, including physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems. Physical symptoms include rigid muscles (also known and commonly referred to as spasticity), unstable balance, slurred speech and loss of vision. Due to the many problems caused by the disease, those inflicted with multiple sclerosis are known for turning to complementary alternative medicine, also known as CAM to ease their pain.
Using medical marijuana has been found to ease that pain in multiple ways and because of its growing popularity among MS sufferers, Timothy Coetzee understands the need for pursuing other alternative options in therapies. “We are at a place where we need to continue to understand and better appreciate the benefits of what we know and don’t know know about alternative medicine. I view it as integrated care. It’s important we continue to keep our options open so people with multiple sclerosis can live their best lives,” said Timothy Coetzee of the National MS Society.
Despite the upsides to taking medical marijuana, there was also a number of adverse side effects that affected a small amount of MS sufferers, including: dizziness, drowsiness, seizures, depression and memory loss.
Medical marijuana sprays and pills are noted in proving their worth for reducing frequent urination and easing rigid muscles typical in those suffering from the disease. Medical marijuana sprays are sold in the United States, although there have been other ways that MS sufferers had of obtaining the products, such as across the border in Canada. It has been noted how some of the alternative methods MS sufferers choose to deal with their condition can be difficult to access, as the industry is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Other alternative therapies MS patients have turned to have included ones that are ineffective, including bee sting therapy and a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the effective methods include gingko biloba, which is most commonly used to sharpen one’s memory, has been found to reduce fatigue in MS sufferers. Magnetic therapy was also found to reduce fatigue and tiredness. However, none of these other therapies have been proven to be as effective in its worth than medical marijuana has.
Dr. Vijayshree Yadav, who conducted the study for complementary alternative medicines (CAM) for MS patients and published it in the journal Neurology, stressed the need for traditional medical supervision when trying any new or alternative therapies. “People with MS should let their doctors know what types of these therapies they are taking, or thinking about taking. Using different CAM therapies is common in 33-80 percent of people with MS, particularly those who are female, have higher education levels and report poorer health,” said Yadav.
By Jessica Cooley