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Marijuana may alleviate multiple sclerosis pain

Patients suffering from nervous disorders and other painful diseases have often said that the use of marijuana helps with symptoms. Now a clinical trial suggests that there may be a legitimate medical reason.

About 400,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease that breaks down the protective coating around nerve fibers. As patients and their loved ones know, multiple sclerosis is a very painful disease that can result in disability and eligibility for Social Security disability benefits in California and nationwide.

Many people with MS are already using medical marijuana to treat muscle spasms, a condition that affects the muscles, causing contractions in the leg and arm muscles that feel like what is commonly known as a "charley horse."

A study published earlier this month found that for 30 MS patients suffering from muscle spasms, a few days of medical marijuana brought relief. According to the researchers, the body naturally produces "cannabinoids" a chemical found in marijuana. The cannabinoid receptors help regulate muscle spasticity. Now researchers are also developing cannabinoid-based medications for MS that have already been approved in the UK, Canada, Spain and New Zealand.

Some researchers do not know if the side effects and negative consequences of smoking make it worth it. Marijuana use has also been known to cause fatigue, dizziness, and can slow down mental skills soon after they use marijuana. Doctors and other medical professionals are also concerned about the long-term consequences of using marijuana to treat MS symptoms.

When you or someone you love is diagnosed with MS, it is important to seek out appropriate medical and legal assistance to protect your rights and health. Marijuana may be an option in California if you are under a physician's care for MS.

Source: Reuters, "Marijuana may ease multiple sclerosis symptoms," Amy Norton, May 14, 2012.

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