MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Cannabis, Keto Diet, Tysabri, MS Unknowns

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by Ed Tobias |

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Cannabis ‘Highly Effective’ Against MS Symptoms, Some Users Report

I would’ve expected many users to report that cannabis has been highly effective at treating MS symptoms, not just some. But comments about this study on the MS News Today Facebook page indicate that people have mixed results. Even so, the fact that more than 50% of the Canadians in this study reported using cannabis says a lot. I’d like to see studies pinpointing which blends of cannabis produce relief of specific symptoms.

More than half of Canadians with multiple sclerosis (MS) report using cannabis to help manage their symptoms, according to a new study.

The study, “Medical cannabis use in Canadians with multiple sclerosis,” was published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Humans have used the cannabis plant for millennia, both as a recreational intoxicant and as a medicine. Although its potential benefits for MS remain unproven, emerging research suggests it can help reduce spasticity, improve sleep, and ease pain.

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Keto Diet Improved Life Quality of RRMS Patients in Trial

Back in March, I wrote a column about a small study that indicated that following a keto diet, which consists of very low carbs, might help improve some MS symptoms. That study has now been presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, and additional details are available.

Eating a ketogenic diet — one low in carbohydrates and high in fats — led to markedly less fatigue and depression for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in a small clinical trial that was designed to assess the tolerability of the dietary intervention.

Measures of disability and quality of life also improved during the study while participants were eating a ketogenic diet. Overall, these results support future research to robustly explore the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in multiple sclerosis (MS), though researchers stressed there is not yet enough evidence to recommend this diet for MS patients outside of closely monitored clinical trials.

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Tysabri Every 6 Weeks Found as Effective as Standard 4-week Dosing

About a decade ago, when I was being treated with Tysabri, my neurologist switched me from four-week dosing to every eight weeks. She said my JCV titer level was increasing, and expanding the time between treatments would lower my risk of a progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy infection while maintaining the medication’s effectiveness. Recently, lengthening the time between Tysabri infusions from the original four weeks has become more of a standard practice. This study confirms it can be done without reducing efficacy.

Tysabri (natalizumab) given every six weeks was found to be similarly effective as the standard four-week dosing schedule at stopping nervous system damage in people with RRMS.

That’s according to the full results of the Phase 3b NOVA clinical trial, which compared Tysabri dosing schedules among nearly 500 RRMS patients with the aim of potentially reducing the risks of side effects tied to the therapy’s use.

“Our findings suggest that most patients who are stable on [Tysabri] 4-week dosing can switch to 6-week dosing without clinically meaningful loss of efficacy,” the researchers wrote.

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Uncertainties of MS Challenging in Scary Ways: UK Patient Survey

I’ve lived with MS for over 40 years. Yes, the course of our illness can be uncertain, but the same is true of cancer and other chronic diseases. There are a lot of unknowns, but over the four decades since my diagnosis, what I know about my future is a lot more than what I don’t know. And what I know, I can handle. Support — at home, at work, and in the neurologist’s office — is key.

The uncertainties that accompany multiple sclerosis (MS) are among the biggest challenges faced by people with the disease, with two-thirds of patients in a recent survey saying “they’re scared for the future” because of such unknowns, the MS Society, which conducted the U.K. survey, reports.

“We may all think the future seems uncertain. But people with MS have told us an MS diagnosis can feel like a life sentence of uncertainty,” Sarah Rawlings, the society’s executive director of research and external affairs, said in its announcement.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

I have tried CBD oil for trigeminal neuralgia pain and it was ineffective after use of about 4 weeks. I hate the light headed, dizzy feeling I get from neuro pain meds so THC wouldn't be for me. I would also be concerned about the long term effects on my brain, as I already experience a reduced mental capacity, brain fog.


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