Page S.A.; Verhoef M.J.  Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies  2002  Mar;  7(1): 103

ABSTRACT: Referenced From: 8th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care. 6th-8th December 2001, Exeter, UK

Objective: Little information is available on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among multiple sclerosis (MS) patient in Canada. In particular, no systematic inquiry has looked at the (controversial) use of cannabis as a herbal therapy. Therefore, we described CAM use by adults with MS and explored the use of cannabis and the impact this has on the lives of MS patients.

Materials and methods: A mailed questionnaire was sent to a random sample of adult MS patients in Southern Alberta. A sample of patients using cannabis, who were willing to participate in personal interview, were interviewed in person using qualitative methods:

Results: The survey response rate was 65%. Twenty-five percent were male and the mean age was 48 years (SD 10.7). Seventy percent currently used CAM, most commonly vitamins (79%), followed by massage therapy (43%), evening primrose oil (42%), prayer (36%) and chiropractic (30%). The median number of therapies used was seven. CAM was mostly used to improve health and to lessen symptoms. Those who were not using CAM mostly said they did not have enough information on it. Cannabis was currently used by 25 of respondents; 20 others had used cannabis during the past 2 years, but stopped because of cost and side-effects. The majority felt that cannabis improved the disease’s symptoms. Fifteen in-depth interviews were conducted. Themes arising in the interviews will be presented at the meeting.

Conclusion: This study has generated new information that is potentially useful for patients, providers and policy makers.

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