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Cannabis Extract Eases Painful Muscle Stiffness in Multiple Sclerosis

Disorder affects up to 90% of patients with MS (Oct. 9)

Use of cannabis extract helps ease painful muscle stiffness in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a phase III study published on October 9 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. The study was conducted in Britain.

Over 12 weeks, 144 patients were given daily tablets of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis, and 135 patients were given placebo. The doses were gradually escalated from 2.5 mg to a maximum of 25 mg.

At the end of the study, 29.4% of the patients in the cannabis group said they had experienced relief from muscle spasms, compared with 15.7% of patients in the placebo group (P = 0.004). The patients given cannabis extract also reported improvements in sleep quality.

Side effects included nervous-system disorders and gut problems, but none was severe.

MS, a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, occurs when the immune system attacks the fatty myelin sheaths that insulate nerve cells.

Painful muscle stiffness occurs in up to 90% of patients, often leading to poor sleep and impaired mobility.

For more information, visit the JNNP Web site.

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