More studies are showing that medical cannabis can alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a company that helps patients, doctors and others understand genetic conditions better.
The observation came in GeneFo’s 2018 Guide to Clinical Effects of Medical Cannabis.
Some research has suggested that cannabis strains containing cannabidiol (CBD) levels equal to or higher than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help MS patients with muscle spasticity and pain. Other studies indicate that cannabis can help MS-related gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and difficulty with digestion.
Medical cannabis can also improve sleep quality and even vision, studies have indicated. They suggest that cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation of the optic nerve.
Despite evidence of benefits, GeneFo is concerned that cannabis is not yet legally approved for medical purposes in all states, which restrains access to treatments that could help MS patients.
The aim of the guide is to better inform patients about medical cannabis, including offering them help to navigate the legal and health systems.
In medical cannabis states, a person with a qualifying condition needs a physician’s recommendation to obtain authorization to visit dispensaries and buy cannabis products.
As of March 2018, MS waslisted as a qualifying condition in 18 U.S. states. An additional 18 states don’t list MS as a qualifying condition but do list MS symptoms like nausea, muscle spasms and pain.
“The growing number of states that qualify MS or its symptoms for the medical use of cannabis is great news for patients,” Neer Ziskind, GeneFo’s chief executive officer, said in a press release.
“However, the process of getting a card approval is not smooth in most states, and requires gathering information and documents, clinical certifications, and administrative forms,” he said. “To assist patients and caregivers that don’t always have the time or energy, we put together a comprehensive state-by-state guide, updated to March 2018, with relevant information on patient rights, application checklist, FAQ’s, crucial links and forms to download, important tips on how you should prepare for your doctor’s visit, and lists” of medical marijuana doctors.
In states where MS is not considered a qualifying condition, the GeneFo guide offers advice on making an application based on qualifying symptoms such as spasticity and pain.
“We trust that this free resource will help more MS patients secure an additional therapeutic avenue and improve their daily living,” Ziskind said.
There is no consensus in the medical community about the use of medical cannabis, despite evidence of its benefits mounting.
In February, a study reported that medical cannabis could safely and significantly reduce chronic pain in older people with MS and a wide range of other conditions.
Most patients reported improvements in their condition, with 93.7 percent reporting a significant decrease in pain six months after starting treatment. About 60 percent of respondents reported an improved quality of life.
Also, this month the American TV personality Montel Williams announced he would speak at the 5th annual Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in New York City, May 30 to June 2, to discuss medical cannabis legalization.