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March 2014

Medical Marijuana May Improve MS Symptoms

Medical marijuana may relieve some symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new research.

Marijuana, hemp, and cannabis are common names for plants of the genus Cannabis. The term "hemp" is used for Cannabis plants that are grown for nondrug use, such as Cannabis sativa. Cannabis indica has poor fiber quality and is used to make drugs for recreation and medicine. The major differences between the two are appearance and the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of marijuana. Marijuana has been studied for the relief of MS symptoms, such as nerve pain, muscle spasms, and urinary disorders. The active ingredients have effects on the central nervous system and immune cells.

In a new study, researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments with potential benefits in MS patients.

The researchers found that most reviewed therapies provided little benefit. However, taking cannabis extract by mouth or through a spray might reduce spasms and pain. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, may provide relief for these symptoms. The authors noted that patients should be made aware that these treatments are likely ineffective in the short-term, but may provide long-term relief. In addition to marijuana, there is also evidence that magnet therapy may relieve fatigue, but not depression symptoms associated with the condition.

While promising, further research is warranted.

For more information about marijuana, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Yadav V, Bever C Jr, Bowen J, et al. Summary of evidence-based guideline: Complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2014 Mar 25;82(12):1083-92. 

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