Apr 21, 2003
Researchers from the Institute of Neurology in London are now experimenting with marijuana to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Preliminary results of an ongoing study suggest marijuana can help control the pain and spasticity endured by MS patients. Cannabinoids, which make up marijuana, inhibited pain in virtually every experimental situation. They also controlled tremors in an experimental model of MS.
Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug after alcohol and tobacco. The drug was banned in the United States in 1937. Now, cannabis-based medicines are being considered for license.
Researchers believe the results of the study could lead to the widespread medical use of marijuana. Marijuana comes from the medicinal part of cannabis. "Varieties of cannabis might be tailored to different diseases or used in combination with known drugs," says Alan Thompson, author of the study.
However, Thompson warns against making the drug too accessible. He says, "There are many challenges to be overcome before we view cannabinoids as routine medicine in neurological disorders."
Cannabis produces a psychoactive, relaxing intoxication, or a "high," which can change the body's cognitive function. In some cases, cannabis can induce unpleasant effects including anxiety, panic or paranoia.
Previous studies have found cannabis plays a role in preventing neurodegeneration, which means it could potentially help manage other disorders such as Huntington's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
SOURCE: The Lancet Neurology, 2003;2:291-298
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