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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
May 2012

Marijuana May Reduce Some MS Symptoms

Marijuana may reduce muscle spasticity in people who have multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent study.

MS is a chronic (long-term), progressive, degenerative disorder that affects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis is widely believed to be an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks components of the body as if they are foreign.

Many MS patients experience spasticity, an involuntary pulling or tightening of the muscles. In a new study, researchers set out to determine if marijuana treatment may ease this symptom. They randomly assigned 37 MS patients to either treatment with marijuana or a placebo once daily for three days. After a rest period of 11 days, participants given marijuana switched to placebo and vice versa. The research team measured any changes in spasticity based on the Ashworth scale.

The results suggested that marijuana treatment was superior to placebo in easing symptoms of MS-related spasticity and discomfort. Treatment with marijuana reduced spasticity by 2.74 points on the Ashworth scale and reduced pain by 5.28 points on average, compared to placebo.

The scientists concluded that smoked marijuana may help relieve some symptoms of MS, such as muscle spasticity. However, more high-quality clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.

Marijuana, hemp and cannabis are common names for plants of the genus Cannabis. The term hemp is often used for cannabis strains grown specifically for production of paper, rope, and cloth. Other cannabis strains are used to make recreational and medicinal drugs. The major difference between the main types of cannabis plants is the amount of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) they contain.

Cannabis has been used medicinally for approximately 5,000 years. The most widely used components of the herb in traditional medicine are the seed and seed oil. Cannabis sativa is widely used recreationally (inhaled or taken by mouth) to achieve increased feelings of well-being.

Cannabis has been studied for the treatment of a number of conditions, including eczema, epilepsy, chronic pain, insomnia and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The most significant benefits have been found in the treatment of chronic pain and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

For more information about marijuana, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Corey-Bloom J, Wolfson T, Gamst A, et al. Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. CMAJ. 2012 May 14. [Epub ahead of print] View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
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