Multiple sclerosis sufferers’ painful muscle stiffness can be eased by clinically administered cannabis, according to tests.
A phase III trial result, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, showed that nine out of 10 MS patients can suffer from the muscle problems in the course of their disease, affecting mobility, sleep quality and daily routines.
Current treatments on offer can often be harmful, leading to some sufferers turning to alternative solutions, including cannabis.
During the tests, involving 22 specialist centres across Britain, patients took either the cannabis extract tetrahydrocannabinol or a placebo pill for a period of 12 weeks, with dosages increasing from 2.5mg to 25mg for two weeks, followed by 10 weeks of maintenance doses.
At the end of the study, relief from the symptoms of muscle stiffness were twice as high for those who had taken the extract as for those who took the dummy tablet. Just under a third of sufferers saw their stiff muscles improve, while under 16% reported an improvement under the placebo.
Improvements in the level of pain suffered, as well as muscle spasms and sleep quality were also revealed. Patients not already using anti-spasmodic treatments were among those reporting the greatest differences, with 40% of these taking the cannabis extract reporting alleviated muscle stiffness.