Study Summary: Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis

Updated: Jul 10

Welcome to Higher Learning LV's Study Summary series. This series reviews and summarizes peer-reviewed research studies and was developed specifically for cannabis industry professionals. These study summaries provide easily digested quick reads for a variety of important issues regarding the commerce and chemistry of legal cannabis.

A 2022 study entitled "Neurological Benefits, Clinical Challenges, and Neuropathologic Promise of Medical Marijuana: A Systematic Review of Cannabinoid Effects in Multiple Sclerosis" that was published in the journal Biomedicines explored the potential of cannabis- and hemp-derived cannabinoids for "add-on immunosuppressive, analgesic, neuroprotective, and remyelinative effects."


"This study evaluates the efficacy of medical marijuana in multiple sclerosis (MS) and its experimental animal models," reported the study. "A systematic review was conducted by a literature search through PubMed, ProQuest, and EBSCO electronic databases for studies reported since 2007 on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in MS," they added.


Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

The study reported that MS patients typically experience "a range of symptoms as a result of motor, sensory, autonomic, and psycho-behavioral dysfunction."

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These symptoms include "fatigue (experienced by 75–90 percent of MS patients) and mobility impairment (experienced by 90 of patients), gait difficulties, paresthesia, vision problems, speech impairments, dizziness and vertigo, urinary bladder dysfunction, neurogenic bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, chronic neuropathic pain (experienced by 85 percent of patients), cognitive deficits in information processing, speed, episodic memory, complex attention and executive function, physical disability, anxiety and depression, and sleep disturbances that correlate with fatigue and depression."


"Of 5481 MS patients surveyed, 47 percent had considered using marijuana for their MS, 20 percent had spoken with their physician about using it, and 26 percent had used it."

Added the scientists, "Of 5481 MS patients surveyed in 2014 by the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis, 47 percent had considered using marijuana for their MS, 20 percent had spoken with their physician about using it, and 26 percent had used it."


The Results

The study reported that animal studies have revealed that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD may possess the therapeutic potential to "reduce neuroinflammatory infiltration, improve hindlimb spasticity, and confer neuroprotection."


The study's authors noted that the potential benefits of cannabis and, more specifically, cannabinoids such as CBD and THC relates to "the multifunctional capacities of the endocannabinoid receptor system in neuroprotection, regeneration, and remyelination, in addition to anti-inflammatory effects."

The study reported that past studies "suggest that combinations of the cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, CBD and Δ9-THC, are comparably as effective for short-term symptomatic relief as conventional pharmacotherapeutic agents" but that they cause "less side effects."


Conclusions

The study concluded that medical cannabis studies performed between 2007 and 2021 "have demonstrated, with a moderate certainty of evidence, that add-on therapy with 1:1 CBD/THC cannabinoid oromucosal spray mixtures is effective...to...improve primarily subjective measures of spasticity, pain, and bladder- and sleep-related quality of life" in MS patients.


CBD/THC cannabinoid oromucosal spray mixtures are effective...to modestly improve primarily subjective measures of spasticity, pain, and bladder- and sleep-related quality of life" in MS patients.

Importantly, the study noted that some of these benefits are maintained for six months and sometimes up to a full year following cannabinoid treatment. This suggests that potential systemic improvements may be occurring that may improve the state of modern MS treatment regimens.


"Further studies are warranted to investigate the long-term effects of cannabinoid adjunctive therapy on MS disease progression and accrual of disability," reported the researchers.


View the original study.


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