The researchers found little objective evidence that cannabis benefits people with MS but, subjectively, a majority of patients felt cannabis improved some of their symptoms.
The results of the world's largest study to assess the medicinal potential of cannabinoids to treat MS patients are published in this week's edition of The Lancet.
The research team based at the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Plymouth was led by Dr. John Zajicek, Consultant Neurologist and Associate Medical Director of Research and Development at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust. The other principal investigator was Professor Alan Thompson, Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College Hospitals, London. The trial that involved 33 neurology and rehabilitation centres across the UK was funded by the MRC and supported by the MS Society.
The three year trial of more than 600 patients from across the UK set out to look at whether cannabinoids can reduce muscle stiffness, known as spasticity, in the arms and legs of MS patients and to assess their general wellbeing in relation to other symptoms.
Participants in the trial were randomly assigned to oral capsules containing either cannabis extract, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, - an active compound found in cannabis), or a placebo and treated for 15 weeks. No patient was left without medication to manage their illness. The trial treatments were administered in addition to participants' own standard MS medication. The patients were not told which treatment they were taking.
The researchers found that when spasticity was assessed clinically using a well-established measure known as the Ashworth scale1 there
Contact: Chris Pook
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