Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

This study analyzed the effects of smoked cannabis in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) for the treatment of spasticity.  This study focused on testing spasticity, and additionally testing participant’s perception of pain, physical performance, fatigue, and changes in cognitive function.  This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design meaning that participants were primarily randomly assigned to either a cannabis smoking group or a placebo smoking group and afterwards the latter/opposite.  Scientists administering the cigarettes were not aware if those cigarettes were cannabis or placebo.

The 30 patients of this study smoked multiple cannabis cigarettes/joints and placebo cigarettes.  The patients were 63% female with an overall average age of 50 years old. A total of 80% of patients had previously used cannabis with 33% of them using cannabis within the last year.  Patients had all tried or where currently undergoing various disease-modifying therapies for the MS spasticity.  The patients of this study were permitted to continue there various therapies over the course of the study.

After significant acceptance screening processes patients were randomly assigned to one of the 2 groups (cannabis cigarette vs. placebo cigarettes). Once stage 1 of testing was complete patients completed an 11-day period without smoking, where participants were then entered into the opposite treatment group.  Each participant was assessed at the same time of day to regulate food, medication, and time of cannabis intake and this was done before and after each treatment for three consecutive days.  Pre-rolled cannabis and placebo cigarettes were used and the cannabis cigarettes contained 4% THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). 

Results of this study show that smoking cannabis had a significant effect at reducing spasticity in MS patients compared to the placebo. Smoking cannabis also reduced participant’s perceptions of pain greater than the placebo.  No differences were found in fatigue among participants, however, many participants did report increase euphoric effects (feeling 'high'). 

Article author: Corey-Bloom J, Wolfson T, Gamst A, Jin S, Marcotte TD, Bentley H, Gouaux B. 

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** The Herbal Health Centre does not necessary advocate smoking, but we recognize the acute relief smoking cannabis provides.  Inhaling (smoking and/or vaporing) cannabis is among many options of cannabis consumption that the Herbal Health Centre offers.  As research continues to grow results continue to show that smoking cannabis does not produce the carcinogenic effects that tobacco cigarettes do, however, we understand that some individuals do find that smoking is not appropriate or possible for them and we are pleased to offer a variety of other forms of consumption that alleviate many symptoms.**

Here are several links that illuminate the difference in effects between tobacco cigarettes and cannabis and highlight how cannabis affects the lungs:

Cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic. - 2005

Association Between Marijuana Exposure and Pulmonary Function Over 20 Years. - 2012