In a study of 112 MS patients self-medicating with cannabis in the US and UK, Consroe et al reported that 70% of more respondents reported improvement in the following symptoms:
Spasticity at sleep onset
Pain in muscles
Spasticity when awaking at night
Pain in legs at night
Spasticity when waking in morning
Spasticity when walking
Tingling in face/arms/head/trunk
Numbness of chest/stomach
Pain in face
Weakness in legs
The authors considered these reports åstrongly suggested cannabinoids may significantly relieve symptoms of MS, particularly spasticity and pain", and provided sufficient grounds for a properly controlled clinical trial to test such claims objectively and conclusively.
A German study of 170 self-medicating cannabis users found 11% of respondents reported using the drug successfully in managing MS symptoms, the second most common use behind depression and concluded "this study demonstrates a successful use of cannabis products for the treatment of a multitude of various illnesses and symptoms. This use was usually accompanied only by slight and in general acceptable side effects." Mechoulam reviews illegal use of cannabis by MS patients. In a UK survey of 318 MS patients, 8% reported using cannabis to relieve symptoms.
In a survey of 780 MS patients in Canada, Page et al found "Forty-three percent had tried cannabis at some point in their lives, 16% for medicinal purposes. Symptoms reported to be ameliorated included anxiety/depression, spasticity and chronic pain" and concluded, "Subjective improvements in symptom experience were reported by the majority of people with MS who currently use cannabis." A survey of 131 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, of which only 13 used cannabis, found "cannabis may be moderately effective at reducing symptoms of appetite loss, depression, pain, spasticity, and drooling". Simmons et al studied responses to an internet survey by 2529 respondents, finding cannabis commonly reported as beneficial. Clarke et al surveyed 220 MS patients in Canada, finding "Medical cannabis use was associated with male gender, tobacco use, and recreational cannabis use. The symptoms reported by medical cannabis users to be most effectively relieved were stress, sleep, mood, stiffness/spasm, and pain." Ware et al reported results of a survey of medicinal cannabis use in the UK, noting "Medicinal cannabis use was reported by patients with chronic pain (25%), multiple sclerosis and depression (22% each), arthritis (21%) and neuropathy (19%). Medicinal cannabis use was associated with younger age, male gender and previous recreational use (p < 0.001)."
In the Netherlands, cannabis has been available on prescription from pharmacies since September 2003, Erkens et al followed up 200 patients prescribed the drug with a questionnaire survey, finding "Cannabis was mainly used for chronic pain and muscle cramp/stiffness.The indication of medicinal cannabis use was in accordance with the labeled indications. However, more than 80% of the patients still obtained cannabis for medicinal purpose from the illegal circuit. Because of the higher prices in pharmacies, ongoing debate on the unproven effectiveness of the drug and the hesitation by physicians to prescribe cannabis."