Will medical marijuana prove to be a miracle treatment for people with multiple sclerosis (MS)?
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society says there are uncertainties about how effective marijuana is in relieving MS symptoms. But the organization supports the right of patients to work with healthcare providers to access medical marijuana where legal.
Supporters of medicinal marijuana are more forceful in their advocacy.
On the website herb.com, supporters say medicinal marijuana has been “widely successful” in treating MS symptoms. They list seven ways they say cannabis eases MS symptoms.
Long history of treatment
Cannabis has been used since ancient times for a variety of conditions.
In 2011, a cannabis extract was first approved in Germany for the treatment of spasticity in people with MS.
Since then, only two synthetic drugs containing THC have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are Marinol and Cesamet, used for treating nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy and people with HIV.
The only naturally occurring THC-based drug — the oral spray Sativex — used for the treatment of spasticity in people with MS, is approved in several countries including France, Canada, and Sweden. However, it is currently not available in the United States.
Although the FDA has not approved any product containing botanical marijuana, FDA officials say they understand there is considerable interest in the use of the substance to treat a number of medical conditions, including MS.
And while studies continue to recognize the benefits, many people are not waiting for FDA approval. Self-medicating with marijuana is common, with the most frequently reported conditions being pain, anxiety, depression, headache and migraine, nausea, and muscle spasticity.