Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. Worldwide, millions of people are suffering from this disease. One of the key features of MS is that it damages the myelin sheaths of nerve fibers, causing them to slowly disappear. The myelin sheath is the insulation layer around the nerve fibers, which transmits signals in the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). Damage to the myelin sheaths can cause problems with the transmission of these signals. This can result in various symptoms, including muscle problems, loss of strength, spasms, fatigue and nerve pain .
For several years now, Savitex has been a registered prescription drug against MS that is available in the Netherlands and many other countries. Savitex is a mouth spray that contains CBD and THC in a 1 to 1 ratio.
Various scientific studies confirm that Savitex can help against spasms. In this article, we will focus on this particular effect. There is also evidence that Savitex can help against other MS symptoms (such as neuropathic pain and bladder problems), but as of yet, there is less evidence supporting these claims. It’s possible however that a compound that contains a broader spectrum of cannabinoids (in addition to THC and CBD) can give better results with regard to these symptoms.
Spasticity is a symptom that is common in MS, approximately 80% of patients are affected to some extent by this symptom. Spasms may come and go, and the consequences are different for each individual. Spasms can lead to stiffness in the legs, but they may also impair the ability to walk altogether. Having to move around with spastic muscles often contributes significantly to the infamous fatigue that is often associated with MS.
Recently, an Italian study on the effectiveness of Savitex has been published, the largest study to date . For this study, a total of 1615 patients were recruited from 30 different MS treatment facilities. All patients were adults who did not benefit from the medication that is usually prescribed for spasticity (such as baclofen, tizanidine, dantrolene, benzodiazepines and clonazepam). For six months, at various times, patients were asked how much they were suffering from spasticity on a scale of 1 to 10. Patients that initially scored lower than a 4 were excluded from this study. After four weeks the majority of patients (70.5%) had made significant progress, which means that their symptoms decreased 20% or more. A smaller percentage of patients (28.2%) even showed a 30% decrease in symptoms. The researchers also attempted to determine the type of patient that had the best chance of benefiting from the medication. It was found that patients with primary or secondary MS that scored an 8 or higher at baseline showed the most improvement on the scale for spasticity.
Although there were also patients that dropped out during the course of the study (because it appeared to be insufficiently effective or because they had side effects) the researchers are positive about Savitex, they indicate that Savitex is a useful and safe option for MS patients with moderate to severe symptoms of spasticity who do not benefit from conventional medication.
Advice for using cannabinoids against MS
There is sufficient scientific evidence to claim that, for a large proportion of MS patients, a combination of THC and CBD is effective against the symptoms of MS, in particular against symptoms of spasticity. When you are considering the use of cannabinoids against MS, always consult your physician or specialist first. Read more about the safety of cannabinoids.
- Patti, F., Messina, S., Solaro, C. (2016). Efficacy and safety of cannabinoid oromucosal spray for multiple sclerosis spasticity. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, online gepubliceerd op 9 mei 2016.