A new study published by the American Academy of Neurology suggests that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for many of the symptoms exhibited in those suffering from multiple sclerosis. Spasms are one of the main symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and marijuana has proven beneficial in treating them without some of the side effects that other medications have shown, and therefore, that is why researchers say doctors should prescribe medical marijuana to multiple sclerosis patients.
Muscle spasms and spasm related pain is a neurological disorder that causes the patient’s to feel extremely exhausted and unable to move around properly. Medications currently prescribed to these patients to combat spasms have significant side effects, which are detrimental to the patient’s overall health. However, medical marijuana does not have many of those side effects. Currently, 21 states list multiple sclerosis as one of the approved conditions for dispensing medical marijuana. This will allow doctors to prescribe it as a treatment option. However, each state has varying restrictions relating to its distribution.
While other studies have shown mixed results about the effectiveness of marijuana and that it may even be bad for a patient’s heart, they also have proven that the drug shows promise in helping treat certain types of brain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. In addition medical marijuana has proven to alleviate nausea, vomiting, and pain associated with other drug treatments and diseases, which is another reason why doctors should prescribe it to multiple sclerosis patients.
Director of the Partners MS Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Howard Weiner said he feels like the new information is a positive finding and makes him feel more comfortable about offering medical marijuana to his patients. So far, Dr. Weiner and his colleagues have certified more than 100 patients to use medical marijuana.
Based on the new study, researchers say other neurologists will also be more likely to recommend marijuana to their multiple sclerosis patients that have failed to benefit from other more standard treatment regimens. For those patients who are prescribed marijuana, it can be taken in pill form, smoked, or a spray form that is squirted into the mouth. However, the study focused mainly on the pill and spray forms of the drug because it was harder for the researchers to be able to determine how much of the active compounds found in marijuana the patient was actually able to get through inhaling the drug.
In a recent statement, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society voiced their support for the rights of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis and encouraged them to work with their doctors to access marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, they noted that current research was insufficient in determining whether smoking marijuana would be helpful in treating symptoms; therefore, they suggest the pill or spray forms.
While there are benefits as to why doctors should prescribe marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis, the drug does have side effects. Potential side effects include weakness, nausea, dizziness, fainting, exhaustion, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts, changes in behavior or mood, and feelings of intoxication. However, according to the studies reviewed, only about one out of every 100 people suffered serious psychological effects from using medical marijuana.
By Donna W. Martin