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Medical Marijuana Pills May Ease Some Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Last updated Aug. 16, 2015

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

A new guideline released by the American Academy of Neurology and published in the journal Neurology stating the possibilities of a medical marijuana pill than can relieve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis.


Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system is thought to be caused by an inflammatory response of the immune system, which attacks nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include loss of balance, blurred vision, bowel problems, slurred speech, numbness, and muscle weakness. 

A new guideline released by the American Academy of Neurology and published in the journal Neurology stating the possibilities of a medical marijuana pill than can relieve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

An expert panel from the American Academy of Neurology, reviewed more than 40 years of research on alternative medicine treatments for multiple sclerosis. Also, in addition to the recommendations about medical marijuana use, the nine experts from the panel also found that ginkgo biloba might help with the fatigue of multiple sclerosis and rubbing may ease symptoms such as tingling, numbness and other unusual skin sensations.

"It's a very common practice in the MS patient population to try alternative therapies," said the author of the guidelines, Dr. Vijayshree Yadav, clinical director of Oregon Health & Science University's MS Center, in Portland.

Two conventional drugs are available for multiple sclerosis:

  • Disease-modifying therapies - slows progression and reduces the number of relapses.
  • Symptomatic therapies - relieves some symptoms, but not the course of the disease.

According to the academy, between 33 percent and 80 percent of multiple sclerosis patients use numerous alternative therapies to treat their symptoms, especially women, those with higher education levels and those reporting inferior health.

There can be serious side effects with medical marijuana, such as seizures, dizziness, thinking and memory problems, and depression. Since some people with MS face a higher risk for depression and suicide, patients should discuss the safety of medical marijuana with their doctor.

Additional Resources:

Summary of evidence-based guideline: Complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 27, 2014
Last updated: Aug. 16, 2015