The prescribing of medical marijuana continues to be one of the most controversial topics in health news. Now, a new report says that marijuana can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The report, which was recently published in the journal Neurology, is the work of Dr. Pushpa Narayanaswami and a team of researchers at Harvard Medical School. Narayanaswami’s team wanted to determine if there was any legitimate reason for MS patients to use medical marijuana. To date, little scientific research has been done on the subject.
“We wanted to review the literature well and see where we went with it, to guide patients and physicians as well,” Narayanaswami said. “There’s nothing out there that looks at all of these [treatments] to see how effective and safe they are.”
The researchers’ study was based on a careful examination of MS cases provided by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health. In addition to medical marijuana use among MS patients, researchers also examined the impact of ginkgo biloba, bee sting therapy, omega-3 fatty acids, reflexology, and other alternative treatments. In total, the researchers reviewed about 2,600 cases.
That review showed that medical marijuana — usually prescribed in spray or pill form — helped many MS patients deal with their symptoms.
“What we learned are these specific forms of medical marijuana can ease patients’ symptoms – specific symptoms of spasticity, or muscle stiffness … and helped with frequent urination,” Narayanaswami said.
Of course, medical marijuana is hardly a perfect treatment for MS. Some patients reported feeling dizzy and drowsy after taking the drug. Medical marijuana also failed to help with some other MS symptoms, including tremors and urinary incontinence.