Cannabinoids might reduce spasticity in multiple sclerosis
- By: Scott Gottlieb
Cannabinoids, the active ingredients found in marijuana, may help control the tremors and muscle spasticity experienced by patients with multiple sclerosis, says a new study (Nature 2000;404:84-7).
Researchers examined mice with chronic relapsing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, an autoimmune disease which has symptoms considered to be closely related to those of multiple sclerosis.
The animals were given synthetic cannabinoid compounds, and then the frequency with which their limbs became spastic was measured. When the cannabinoids were given, tremors and spasticity improved within minutes, and often the symptoms did not return for hours.
The compounds injected into the mice stimulated cannabinoid receptors on the surface of nerve cells. This indicates that the receptors are involved in regulating muscle tone, according to David Baker of University College London, who is lead author of the study.
The symptoms were not eased merely by the sedative effect of cannabinoids, since some of the compounds do