MS and Smoking

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The possibility was examined in a literature review, if smoking (including marijuana/cannabis/hashis) could have any benificial effect on MS. The border condition on lawfulness is met when MS-patients start smoking the latter mentioned substances. The review proved to be most surveyable (only 25 references on MS, human and (marijuana smoking or smoking) 1966-99. Mostly, these are referred below

The effects of cannabis have been described as antispasmotic and analgesic. This does not explain all possible effects in MS. One way of action, independant of a definite drug effect, could simply be in forcing the patients to a more quiet state while smoking than would otherwise be the case. However, no such indication were found in the study. Being forbidden as „soft narcotic drug,“ marijuana is a spectacular option [1]. Consroe et al. [2] identified 112 MS-patients who reported a benificial action when they smoke marijuana. The value of it could be caused by a subjective well-being by an objective deterioration not noticed by the patients. Greenberg et al. [3] found that „smoking one marijuana cigarette ... further impairs posture and balance in patients with spastic MS.“ In apparent contrast, but possibly also explained by a relaxing effect, Schon et al. [4] found that it caused a suppression of the nystagmus, often seen in MS.

Otherwise, this review did not present any good news for tabacco smokers among MS-patients. In analogy with the study of Greenberg et al. [3], Emre and de Decker [5] found that „nicotine causes a transient worsening of motor functions ..., which can be due to its  effects on the central nervous system or vegetative-vascular functions.“ Ammenheuser et al. [6] found that the mean  pre-treatment variant frequencies  of the MS patients who were cigarette smokers was more than four times higher than the same variable of the 4 MS patients who were non-smokers. Villard and Vessey [7] even concluded that „smoking  may be a risk factor for developing MS.“ Also older publications of the relationship between MS and smoking do not favour its use [8-11].


  1. Masood E. Cannabis laws 'threaten validity of trials'. Nature 1998;396:206.
  2. Consroe P, Musty R, Rein J, Tillery W, Pertwee R. The perceived effects of smoked cannabis on patients with  multiple sclerosis. Eur Neurol 1997; 38:44-8.
  3. Greenberg HS, Werness SA, Pugh JE, Andrus RO, Anderson DJ, Domino EF. Short-term effects of smoking marijuana on  balance in patients with multiple sclerosis and normal volunteers. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1994;55:324-8.
  4. Schon F, Hart PE, Hodgson TL, Pambakian AL, Ruprah M, Williamson EM, Kennard C. Suppression of pendular nystagmus by smoking cannabis in a  patient with multiple sclerosis. Neurology 1999;53:2209-10.
  5. Emre M, de Decker C. Effects of cigarette smoking on motor functions in patients  with multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurology 1992;49:1243-7.
  6. Ammenheuser MM, Ward JB, Whorton EB, Killian JM.  Elevated frequencies of 6-thioguanine-resistant lymphocytes in  multiple sclerosis patients treated with  cyclophosphamide: a prospective study. Mutation Research 1988;204:509-20.
  7. Villard-Mackintosh L, Vessey MP. Oral contraceptives and reproductive factors in multiple  sclerosis incidence. Contraception 1993;47:161-8.
  8. Mitchell DA, Schandl EK. Carbon monoxide, vitamin B6, and multiple  sclerosis: a theory of interrelationship. Am J Clin Nutrition 1973;26:890-6.
  9. Ansell M, Lewis FA. A review of cyanide concentrations found in human organs. A survey of  literature concerning cyanide metabolism, 'normal', non-fatal, and fatal body  cyanide levels. J Forensic Med 1970;17:148-55.
  10. Simpson CA, Newell DJ, Schapira K. Smoking and multiple sclerosis. Neurology 1966;16:1041-3.
  11. Matthews DM, Wilson J, Zilkha KJ. Cyanide metabolism and vitamin B12 in multiple  sclerosis. J Neurol, Neurosurg Psychiatry 1965;28:426-8.

First completed on April 16, 2001

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