Multiple sclerosis sufferers say cannabis relieves their pain
Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Medicines containing every ingredient of cannabis might work better than chemical extracts, says a scientist.
Dr Elizabeth Williamson, of the School of Pharmacy, London, said she had found using the whole herb was as effective as an extract at tackling MS symptoms such as spasticity, but worked faster.
Much work has already been carried out on a cannabis ingredient, or cannabinoid,called THC, but Dr Williamson said she wanted trials on the whole plant extended.
She told the BBC : "Multiple Sclerosis sufferers find the herb gives a great deal of relief and we want to know whether it is actually the whole herb which is better than taking the isolated cannabinoids out of it."
"We have just found that if we use a plant extract we actually get a better result than if we use pure THC.
"We know that THC does work, but the herb does work better and I don't know whether there is actually something in there that is much more potent."
Dr Williamson presented her findings to a symposium on cannabinoids as a medicine at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, in London.
Earlier this month the House of Lords select committee on science and technology published a report which calls for cannabis to be regarded in the same way as any other potential medicine.
The beginning of the year also saw a major clinical trial begin in London, with another due to start in the city later this month.
It will be investigating the therapeutic effect of cannabis and cannabinoids for the conditions of post-operative pain and spasticity in patients with MS.
Ms Clare Hodges, from the Alliance of Cannabis Therapeutics, said cannabis was vital to help alleviate the symptoms of her MS.
She has been using the drug regularly and finds it works better than any prescription drugs.
"On the day to day basis my general quality of life is better and as well as relieving the physical problems it lifts your spirits.
"You don't have to get high or stoned for it to improve your mood in the way that anti-depressants are supposed to, but often don't.
"Cannabis is the
only medicine that I and many others have comes across that treats the