New medical marijuana guideline for treating MS

Guideline released by the American Academy of Neurology

Right now, legislation is pending in Florida to legalize medical marijuana.  If approved, Florida will join 21 other states plus Washington, D.C. where medicinal marijuana is currently allowed.

Now, the American Academy of Neurology is putting out a new guideline regarding medical marijuana for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, or MS.  The guideline suggests it may ease some symptoms of the disease.

"This panel of experts looked at all of the different alternative and complementary therapies that they could identify that had studies evaluating their efficacy. And they found that there were many therapies that had been looked at and indeed, some of them had shown some evidence of usefulness of efficacy in multiple sclerosis," explained Cleveland Clinic Neurologist Dr. Robert Fox, who did not take part in the study.

AAN researchers looked at complementary or alternative medicine therapies, also known as "cam" therapies, for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. They found that certain forms of medical marijuana, in pill or oral spray form only, may help reduce pain due to tight or stiff muscles and frequent urination, but not loss of bladder control. Researchers say there is not enough evidence to suggest smoking marijuana is helpful in treating MS symptoms.

Fox says anyone with multiple sclerosis who is considering a "cam" therapy should talk to their doctor about it first.

"So, it's important for patients to recognize if they are considering cannabis, including marijuana, that they discuss this with their neurologist so that they understand what the expectations are for the therapy, what the safety concerns are for the therapy, and also the potential legal implications depending on what state they are in," said Fox.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal Neurology.