Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada looks at cannabis

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Many people sing the praises of the therapeutic virtues of cannabis, but what about its true effectiveness in treating pain? The question is all the more delicate when one wants to treat a neurological disease like multiple sclerosis, that’s why the stake is at the heart of the fourth Quebec summit held Saturday in Boucherville.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSCC) is bringing together about 600 people for its bi-annual summit to take stock of the latest advances in science about the disease.

This year, difficult to ignore the debate surrounding cannabis, then the organizers are addressing the issue head-on with lectures entitled: “Cannabinoids and endogenous mechanisms in the development and treatment of pain” and “People with MS should- they rush to cannabis? Maybe not… “.

The Director General of the Quebec Division of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (SCSM), Louis Adam, acknowledges that people with the disease are turning to cannabis, medicinal or not, and some claim to derive relief from it. their pains.

The SCSP just announced, on March 21, an investment of $1.5 million to enable the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to study “the use of cannabis in the management of symptoms associated with MS and the effects this product may have on this disease. ”

“We do not say that cannabis is a treatment for people with Alzheimer’s, we will instead invest in research to try to better understand the effects of cannabis on neuropathic pain,” says Louis Adam.

In the press release announcing the news, the president and CEO of the CPSS, Dr. Pamela Valentine, argues that this is the first study of its kind and that cannabis remains a substance little known from the point of view scientist.

D Dr. Alexandre Prat, Canaca of the Research Chair in multiple sclerosis, confirms that there is no evidence of an effect “neither positive nor negative cannabis” on the disease process.

According to the neurologist at the University Hospital of Montreal (CHUM), we still admit a certain appeasement of the symptoms of spasticity experienced by patients. That is, muscle rigidity, a spontaneous and uncontrolled contraction of muscles that occurs in people with multiple sclerosis.

“We know that cannabis has an effect on spasticity, but it has no effect in itself on the progression of the disease, the development of the disease or the number of outbreaks in a year,” says Dr. Prat.

In full effervescence

The vast majority of the 600 summit participants are people with the disease or relatives, according to Louis Adam. They want to keep themselves well-informed about the latest scientific advances.

“Conferences are popularized to make sure people understand where MS research is going in the world right now,” he says.

According to the executive director of the Quebec division of the CPSS, research is in full swing.

This finding is corroborated by Dr. Prat, whose conference provided an overview of research in Quebec and Canada.

“To my surprise, this allowed me to demonstrate that Canada is probably one of the most active countries in MS research at this time,” he says. When I started, a little less than 20 years ago, there was no cure for the disease. Now we have 14 treatments that target different phases and different aspects of the disease. ”

These treatments reduce the number of relapses and the intensity of the attacks that patients suffer and at the same time delay the progression of the disease.

“We notice that patients who started to treat 20 years ago are progressing much less quickly than patients who have not been treated or who have refused to be treated,” reports the neurologist who sees far fewer heavily disabled patients than before.

All the scientific advances made over the last 40 years have “changed the natural history of the disease,” says Dr. Prat.

The goal of the researchers is now to understand the progressive form of the disease at the biological, clinical and radiological levels to be able to act on these phenomena and to prevent patients from going into progressive form.