New data questions whether medical marijuana can help treat some Multiple Sclerosis and other brain diseases.
Gloria Gates has multiple sclerosis. Desperate for relief , the 69-year-old uses a marijuana extract.
She says, "I can use the medical marijuana to alleviate excruciating cramps that I can get in my muscles and my leg muscles. "
Many patients with debilitating brain diseases turn to marijuana after traditional treatments fail. Now a new review from the American Academy of Neurology shows that marijuana pills or spray can help some MS symptoms.
According to Dr. Barbara Koppel, a Professor of Neurology at New York Medical College, "the ones that were helped the most were pain, spasticity, which is tightness of the muscles, difficulty walking which is usually related to spasticity."
But the findings suggest marijuana is not effective in treating Parkinson's disease or epilepsy seizures. Doctor Koppel says that doesn't mean the drug doesn't work, it's just that there isn't enough research in those areas.
She explains, "there were too few patients studied in the rigorous manner that we need in order to classify and say something conclusive. There is lots of literature about smoking because that is what most people do but it's all anonymous questionnaires and it's patient testimonials we can't use. "
Gloria says she tried medical marijuana as a last resort . "It worked the very first time and has been an absolute blessing for me," she says.
She says otherwise she would be on heavy duty pain medication and not able to function.
Now that marijuana is legal in many places, researchers hope it will be easier to conduct more studies.
Side effects for medical marijuana can include nausea, fainting, behavioral changes and suicidal thoughts.