Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis a neurodegenerative demyelinating disease, with lesions in the central nervous system. Around the world there are about 2.5-3 million individuals affected by SM, of which 600.000 in Europe and over 118.000 in Italy.
It affects women in greater numbers, in a 2 to 1 ratio with respect to men, and has an onset, more or less between the ages of 20 and 40. The symptoms and the evolution of the disease vary from person to person.
Up to 20 years ago it was considered a mysterious disease, difficult to diagnose and to treat, today Multiple Sclerosis is less scaring, due to scientific progress, which introduced technologies allowing an early diagnosis and increasingly effective therapeutic protocols.
A review on the results of research has been made in occasion of the Annual Scientific Congress of the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (Fism), held in Rome in May, 2018.
Studies on Cannabis and Multiple Sclerosis
The study conducted by the University of Catania examined 1500 patients coming from different centres specialized in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, to whom Cannabis was administered in spray form.
After the first month, 61,9% of the patients registered an improvement in spasticity in such a way that they were encouraged to continue the treatment.
After six months, a clinically significant improvement, superior or equal to a 30%, was registered in 40,2% of the patients.
Symptoms associated with spasticity, like cramps and nocturnal spasms, improved in the major part of the patients.
The research supported by AISM
The effectiveness of medical cannabis in the reduction of spasticity was supported by a multicentric study published in Lancet Neurology by a group of Italian researchers, realized thanks to the support of the Italian Foundation of Research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The researchers recruited 59 patients above the age of 18, affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with evident symptoms of spasticity.
The study was conducted in double-blind; physicians and patients didn’t know who was in treatment and who was given a placebo.
During the six weeks, the patients were given cannabinoids, THC and CBD, in the same quantities, in spray form. Each patient could freely access to a maximum of 12 sprays daily.
At the end of the six months, the patients who had taken the cannabinoid medical drug, showed a significant improvement in the symptoms related to spasticity with respect to the patients treated with the placebo.
"The Study - doctor Giancarlo Comi states – recorded a reduction of pain caused by rigidity and spasms, and also an improved quality of sleep".
The treatment, moreover, "was quite well-tolerated: nobody interrupted it" if not temporarily, "there were no severe adverse events and the side effects were very modest in terms of fatigue, dizziness and drowsiness".