ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Free Range
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Former Inmates at Increased Risk for High Blood Pressure
EPA Alerts Seniors to Carbon Monoxide Dangers
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
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Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients

(HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients, glaucoma patients and others can benefit from medical marijuana, and now a new analysis shows that it can help multiple sclerosis (MS) patients find relief from the muscle spasms that are the hallmark of the debilitating autoimmune disease.

"The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in MS appears to be comprehensive, and should be given considerable attention," said lead researcher Dr. Shaheen Lakhan, executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation.

"Spasticity, an involuntary increase in muscle tone or rapid muscle contractions, is one of the more common and distressing symptoms of MS," the researchers noted in their review. "Medicinal treatment may reduce spasticity, but may also be ineffective, difficult to obtain or associated with intolerable side effects," they added.

"We found evidence that cannabis plant extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms," Lakhan said.

Although some objective measures showed improvement, there were no significant changes in after-treatment assessments, Lakhan said. "However, subjective assessment of symptom relief did often show significant improvement post-treatment," he added.

For the study, Lakhan and his colleague Marie Rowland reviewed six studies where marijuana was used by MS patients. Five of the trials showed that marijuana reduced spasms and improved mobility, according to the report published Dec. 3 in the online journal BMC Neurology.

Specifically, the studies evaluated the cannabis extracts delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These studies found that both THC and CBD extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms, Lakhan said.

Although there was a benefit from using marijuana there were also side effects, such as intoxication. This varied depending on the amount of marijuana needed to effectively limit spasms, but side effects were also seen in the placebo groups, Lakhan and Rowland noted.

The careful monitoring of symptom relief and side effects is critical in reaching an individual's optimal dose, Lakhan said. "Moreover, there is evidence that cannabinoids may provide neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory benefits in MS," he added.

"Considering the distress and limitations spasticity brings to individuals with MS, it would be important to carefully weigh the potential for side effects with the potential for symptom relief, especially in view of the relief reported in subjective assessment," Lakhan said.

Dr. Moses Rodriguez, a professor of neurology and immunology at the Mayo Clinic, said that "the idea of using cannabis to treat MS has been around for a long time."

Rodriguez noted that the effects of using marijuana have been mixed. "It has been difficult to know whether the effect has been just a general well-being or whether it has a direct effect on muscle fibers and spasticity," he said.

If drugs could be developed that take away the intoxicating effects of marijuana, it could have a direct effect on spasms without the high, Rodriguez said.

The Obama administration announced in October that it will no longer prosecute medical marijuana users or suppliers, provided they obey the laws of states that allow use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

Rodriguez said he is often asked by his MS patients about whether there is a benefit to using marijuana.

"What I tell my patients," he said, "is if they want to try it they should try it. They should understand that there is a potential for it to be habit-forming and there may be a potential that they are fooling themselves."

Patricia A. O'Looney, vice president of biomedical research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said the society has studied this issue and does not think enough is known to recommend that MS patients use marijuana.

"Because the studies to date do not demonstrate a clear benefit compared to existing therapy, and issues of side effects and long-term effects are not clear, the recommendation is that it should not be recommended at this time," she said.

Another expert, Dr. William Sheremata, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, also doesn't think MS patients necessarily benefit from marijuana use.

Sheremata noted that the objective measures in the study did not show any benefit from marijuana. "Those are the only valid measures. Subjective responses are subjective; they really don't have much in the way of validity," he said. "I am not convinced that the use of marijuana benefits patients as a whole."

SOURCES: Shaheen Lakhan, M.D., Ph.D., executive director, Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, Panorama City, Calif.; Moses Rodriguez, M.D., professor, neurology and immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Patricia A. O'Looney, Ph.D., vice president, biomedical research, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York City; William Sheremata, M.D., director, Multiple Sclerosis Center, University of Miami School of Medicine; Dec. 3, 2009, BMC Neurology, online Published on: December 04, 2009