Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) often seek complimentary treatments to alleviate their symptoms. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there is some evidence for the role of cannabis-based products as a complimentary alternative treatment for symptom management, although questions remain about the benefits relative to potential side effects. A new study characterizing the use of cannabis-based products by MS patients sheds some light on these questions.
In this survey study, half the respondents reported cannabis-based product usage, with 19% describing daily use. Of the patients with current, regular use (daily, weekly, or monthly), approximately 67% initiated use after MS onset, yet only half discussed use with a physician. Oral and/or smoked were the most common formulations, and with higher THC to CBD ratio.
Of the patients with regular usage, the most common reasons for initiation of cannabis-based products were pain, sleep, mood, and spasticity/tremor. Most respondents indicated a perception of symptom improvement. Side effects included memory disturbances and “brain fog”. Notably, more than half the respondents reported experiencing no side effects.
Although the long-term safety and therapeutic potential of cannabis-based products for MS are not yet known, further study in this patient population is warranted.
Citation: Schabas AJ, Vukojevic V, Taylor C, Thu Z, Badyal A, Chan JK, Devonshire V, Traboulsee A, Sayao AL, Carruthers R. Cannabis-based product use in a multiple sclerosis cohort. Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin. 2019 Sep 25; 5(3): 2055217319869360.
Want to receive the latest science and insights on cannabis use in your inbox? Subscribe for free!