Multiple sclerosis sufferers often turn to complementary or alternative therapies (CAM) for relief of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle spasms or balance difficulties. One such herbal approach involves marijuana. The MS grapevine has been promoting the benefits of marijuana for symptom relief for decades.
Doctors don’t know very much about the safety or effectiveness of most alternative approaches for multiple sclerosis. A review of 19 studies on marijuana, however, showed that cannabis extract, synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol and Sativex, a cannabinoid spray, helped reduce muscle spasms and pain. Sativex is used in 25 countries to treat MS, but it is not available in the US.
The researchers point out that cannabis may have some safety issues, including mood disruptions and cognitive fuzziness. Possible interactions between cannabis extracts and prescription MS medications are not well studied. Nonetheless, perhaps there will be more acceptance now that new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology suggest that medical marijuana may be helpful.