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What is medical cannabis used for?

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More and more people turn to medical cannabis every year. We look at the conditions it could help with.

What is medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis refers to any medicine derived from the cannabis plant. These come in various formulations, such as oils, capsules, oral sprays and raw flower.

Medical cannabis can be prescribed for a limited number of conditions on the NHS.

Private clinics such as Sapphire and The Medical Cannabis Clinics can prescribe cannabis for a much broader range of conditions.

What does the research say?
A white hand emerges from the right hand side of the page holding a cannabis oil dropper whose usage is to treat medical condition.

Epilepsy

Epidyolex is the only cannabis-based medicine licensed for the treatment of epilepsy and contains a high concentration of CBD. It is available on the NHS for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome: two rare forms of epilepsy which can be difficult to treat.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that Epidyolex should only be prescribed if patients have tried a minimum of two medications that have failed.

Read more: Patients in Britain WILL be allowed cannabis oil from The Netherlands

A cup of tea sits on a marble counter with an oil dropper beside it.

Nausea from chemotherapy

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that medical cannabis controlled chemotherapy-induced nausea in young patients. Researchers analysed 22 studies on the use of cannabis on children and adolescents before concluding that it could be helpful. 

The researchers said that it is the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis that has the strongest anti-nausea effect in these patients. The cannabinoid is also associated with helping patients to recover their appetite. 

In the UK, synthetic cannabinoid Nabilone can be prescribed by a specialist to help relieve symptoms but only where other treatments have failed.

A small brown bottle of oil on a wooden chopping. 
there are also herbs in the background.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include issues with vision, movement, sensation and balance.

Sativex is a CBD/THC medicine that is sprayed into the mouth. It is used for people with treatment-resistant spasticity caused their MS.

The MS Society reports half the people in one study found their symptoms reduced by 20% within four weeks of starting Sativex.

Project Twenty21

Project Twenty21 is a UK-wide medical cannabis registry led by drugs advisory committee, Drug Science.

Patients enrolled onto the registry receive medical cannabis from private clinics at a reduced cost.

Data from the project will be used to inform wider prescribing on the NHS.

The CANNAVIST advises readers to consult with a doctor before using any cannabis product.

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