Multiple Sclerosis Patients Reduce Their Use of Opioids, Benzodiazepines Following Initiation of Cannabis Therapy

AMHERST, NY — The use of cannabis is associated with symptom mitigation and the reduced consumption of prescription drugs in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to data published in the journal Neurology.

A team of investigators from the DENT Neurologic Institute in New York performed a retrospective chart review of 77 MS patients undergoing treatment with medical cannabis. The majority of subjects reported reductions in pain, and nearly half reported improvements in spasticity and sleep. “In addition, 34 percent of patients were able to decrease or discontinue other medications, including opioids, stimulants, and benzodiazepines, indicative of symptom improvement.”

Authors concluded, “Patients with multiple sclerosis who initiated medical cannabis treatment experienced improved symptomology with good tolerability and were able to decrease or altogether discontinue opioids, stimulants and benzodiazepines.”

Their findings are consistent with those of other studies reporting the reduced use of opioids and other prescription drugs following patients’ initiation of cannabis therapy.

A marijuana plant-derived oral extract drug, Sativex, is approved for the treatment of MS-related spasticity in a number of countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.

Full text of the study, “Multiple Sclerosis and use of medical cannabis: A retrospective review evaluating symptom outcomes,” appears in Neurology. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Relationship between marijuana and opioids.

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