Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jan 2016
Source: Herald, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 The Herald
Author: Estelle Ellis


THE Medical Research Council (MRC) has published a policy brief 
acknowledging there was sufficient evidence that the medicinal use of 
dagga can relieve chronic pain and reduce spasticity in patients 
suffering from multiple sclerosis.

The brief summarised the findings of Dr Penny Whiting, an American 
scientist who conducted a systemic review evaluating the medicinal 
use of dagga.

The publication this week of the brief, prepared for South Africa by 
Professor Charles Parry, Nandi Siegfried and Bronwyn Meyers from the 
MRC, follows the introduction of the Medical Innovation Bill in 
parliament in February 2014.

For the purposes of the brief, and based on the prevalence of disease 
in South Africa, the authors identified five conditions where claims 
exist that dagga could benefit sufferers.

These were nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, appetite 
stimulation for patients with HIV/Aids, chronic pain, spasticity due 
to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia and glaucoma.

They found that the best evidence for the medicinal use of dagga 
existed in studies looking at the relief of chronic pain and 
spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

While the use of medicinal dagga also brought significant nausea 
relief for those on chemotherapy, researchers said the quality of 
evidence was low.

There was a similar problem with studies on the benefits of dagga in 
stimulating appetite in HIV/Aids patients.

A study into the efficacy of dagga in treating glaucoma was dismissed 
after the quality of evidence was found to be very low.

Adverse symptoms, including dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue and 
hallucination were reported in 62 of the 79 trials studied by the MRC.
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