Medicinal marijuana has been known to ease symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, and now marijuana extract pills have been successful in relieving muscle stiffness for multiple sclerosis sufferers.

UK researchers, from the University of Plymouth, investigated the effects marijuana extract capsules on relieving muscle stiffness as well as any improvement in overall mobility, flexibility and quality of life.

The study observed nearly 300 patients with MS. The researchers randomly assigned patients either to capsules containing cannabis extracts that contains 0.8 to 1.8 mg of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (5mg in the first two weeks increasing to 25mg for the remaining weeks of the trial) or a placebo.

Following 12 weeks of treatment, 30 percent of patients treated with cannabis extract capsules experienced relief from muscle stiffness, compared to 16 percent of individuals in the placebo group. Pain was improved in MS patients who took the cannabis extract pill. Some patients even experienced improvements in their sleep quality.

However, patients did experience some side effects such as: balance problems, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, urinary tract infection, and confusion. Researchers note the side effects occurred when doses of THC were increased in the first two weeks.

The National MS Society warns that there is not enough supporting evidence to recommend marijuana or its byproducts. "The fact that marijuana is an illegal drug in many states and by federal statute further complicates the issue," the society's website notes.

Overall, "the study met its primary objective to demonstrate the superiority of cannabis extract over placebo in the treatment of muscle stiffness in MS," the authors noted. "No new safety concerns were observed."

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, nearly 400,000 individuals are diagnosed with MS nationwide. As many as two-and-a-half million individuals worldwide suffer from MS. Most individuals experience their first symptoms as early as 15 or as late as 50.  

The study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry