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Beat Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis with Marijuana

spasticity, multiple sclerosis and marijuana

Perhaps you have read previous reports about how a spray marijuana product may help with spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Now there is a new study in which researchers have noted this phenomenon and published their findings.


Based on the results of the new study, which was conducted in Italy, use of the spray marijuana product called Sativex in 43 people with multiple sclerosis resulted in an improvement in spasticity when compared with a placebo. Specifically, lower limb spasticity improved by an average of 18.2 percent among individuals who were treated with Sativex for four weeks while those in the placebo group showed a 6.7 percent improvement. Since this was a crossover study, all the patients were exposed to the drug.

At the beginning of the study, the mean modified Ashworth score was 5.7. The modified Ashworth test is considered to be a quick and easy way to measure spasticity. After treatment, there was a noted improvement on the Ashworth score.

In fact, among those who experienced at least a 20 percent improvement on their scores, half of them showed this response only after they used Sativex. The remaining participants showed improvement to both the marijuana product and placebo or only placebo.

An improvement in spasticity was the only significant advantage derived from this study. No notable differences were reported regarding sleep, fatigue, or pain.

Previous Sativex studies
Numerous previous research efforts have focused on the use of Sativex in people with multiple sclerosis. One was conducted among MS patients who had resisted the usual treatment approach. The spray marijuana product resulted in relevant improvements in the ability to perform everyday activities and also enhanced quality of life.

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In another study, 120 people with resistant MS spasticity used Sativex for 15 months. Ninety-five of the participants also used other treatment for multiple sclerosis and 25 used the marijuana product alone. Within ten days of starting treatment, spasticity improved by 57 percent.

In a third study that involved more than 1,000 individuals with spasticity, one goal was to see if the spray was associated with significant problems with mood or cognition. Overall, the authors found no significant changes in mood, cognitive abilities, or driving after using the product for one year.

More about Sativex
Sativex is a drug composed of equal parts of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabidiol has no psychotropic effects and reportedly boosts the beneficial impact of THC, which does have psychotropic properties.

This unique combination of ingredients has been shown to reduce the experience of the side effects associated with THC, such as dry mouth, headache, rapid heartbeat, and anxiety. In addition, because the drug is delivered in a spray, it does not enter the bloodstream rapidly, a trait that also reduces the risk of experiencing undesirable reactions.

Read more about the effect of marijuana on multiple sclerosis

The number of studies showing the benefits of using the marijuana spray Sativex is growing and the results have been positive. At the same time, a major challenge for people living in the United States is that this marijuana spray is not approved for use in the states. Currently Sativex is available only in eight European countries (including the UK), Canada, and New Zealand.

Leocani L et al. Effect of THC-CBD oromucosal spray (Sativex) on measures of spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS 2014; Abstract LB3.