A study of multiple sclerosis patients has shown that smoking cannabis could be an effective spasticity treatment, a disabling and typical symptom of multiple sclerosis. The placebo controlled study resulted in reduced pain perception as well, although temporary, adverse cognitive effects as well as increase in fatigue was also reported.
Study participants were randomly assigned to either a control group that smoked placebo cigarettes once daily for 3 days, or an intervention group that smoked cannabis also once daily for 3 days. After an 11 day break, each group crossed over to the opposite group. Smoking cannabis was superior to smoking placebo for symptom and pain reduction in individuals with multiple sclerosis having excessive muscle contraction or treatment-resistant spasticity.
Earlier studies suggested that medical marijuana’s active compounds had potential for the treatment of neurologic conditions, but the focus of this research was on orally taken cannabinoids. There have also been anecdotal reports of individuals with multiple sclerosis who recommended smoking marijuana for the relief of spasticity symptoms.
This study however made use of a modified Ashford scale, a more objective measurement that graded muscle tone intensity by the measurement of things like resistance in rigidity and range of motion. Pain, the secondary outcome, was measured making use of a visual analogue scale. Physical performance was also looked at making use of a timed walk, as well as cognitive function after each visit.
Smoking cannabis was generally well tolerated, although concentration and attention mildly affected. . According to the researchers, larger, long term studies are required to substantiate the results and determine if lower doses could provide benefits with less impact on cognition. Other studies on the efficacy of cannabis for neuropathic pain control have also revealed positive outcomes.