According to new guidelines by American Academy of Neurology there is little evidence that most complementary or alternative medicine therapies (CAM) treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). (Agencies)
However, the guidelines state the CAM therapies oral cannabis, or medical marijuana pills, and oral medical marijuana spray may ease patients' reported symptoms of spasticity, pain related to spasticity and frequent urination in multiple sclerosis (MS).
The guidelines state that there is not enough evidence to show whether smoking marijuana is helpful in treating MS symptoms.
The guideline looked at CAM therapies, which are non-conventional therapies used in addition to or instead of doctor-recommended therapies.
Examples include oral cannabis, or medical marijuana pills and oral medical marijuana spray, ginkgo biloba, magnetic therapy, bee sting therapy, omega-3 fatty acids and reflexology.
"Using different CAM therapies is common in 33 to 80 per 4cent of people with MS, particularly those who are female, have higher education levels and report poorer health," said guideline lead author Vijayshree Yadav, with Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
"People with MS should let their doctors know what types of these therapies they are taking, or thinking about taking," said Yadav.
For most CAM therapies, safety is unknown. There is not enough information to show if CAM therapies interact with prescription MS drugs, researchers said.
The guideline found certain forms of medical marijuana, in pill or oral spray form only, may help reduce patients' reported spasticity symptoms, pain due to spasticity, and frequent urination but not loss of bladder control.
The therapy may not help reduce tremor. Long-term safety of medical marijuana use in pill or oral spray is not known. Most of the studies are short, lasting six to 15 weeks.
Medical marijuana in pill or oral spray form may cause side effects, some of which can be serious. Examples are seizures, dizziness, thinking and memory problems as well as psychological problems such as depression, researchers said.
This can be a concern given that some people with MS are at an increased risk for depression or suicide. Both doctors and patients must weigh the possible side effects that medical marijuana in pill or oral spray form can cause, they said.
The study was published in the journal Neurology.
According to new guidelines by American Academy of Neurology there is little evidence that most complementary or alternative medicine therapies (CAM) treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).