BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Cannabis 'helps rheumatoid arthritis'
Cannabis plant
Cannabis: More evidence of its therapeutic effects
Scientists believe an ingredient of cannabis greatly reduces the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and could provide a cheaper alternative to current anti-arthritis drugs.

Components of cannabis have long been known to affect the immune system but now it seems that one component, cannabidiol, can block the progress of arthritis without any intoxicating or psychoactive side effects.

Professor Marc Feldmann of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, who led the work, believes that cannabidiol could become the basis for a cheap anti-arthritis pill.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a constituent which has no properties on the brain - it's not psychoactive, it can't give you a high."

Rheumatoid-arthritis is the crippling inflammation of the joints caused when the bodies immune system turns on itself.

Rather than fighting infections, it attacks the lining of the joints causing swelling and great pain.

There are drugs available, but they are either highly expensive, or produce severe side-effects in many patients.

Human medical trials

The cannabis extract has only been tried in mice so far, as described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

However, Professor Feldmann says that this drug is as effective in mice as a far more expensive treatment that has to be taken by injection.

The next stage would be to conduct small scale human medical trials.

However, Professor Feldmann warned that it could be up to five years before the drug might be available, and that even finding sponsors for the research was difficult, given the associations with an illegal drug.

He said: "What we have found is that as soon as you mention cannabis a lot of companies get put right off and don't want to enter discussions.

"There is certainly a hurdle to be crossed in the development of this drug."

This research adds another potential use for cannabis derived drugs.

Other cannabis compounds are effective painkillers and research has suggested that cannabis might help people with multiple sclerosis.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Professor Marc Feldmann
"Medical trials are very slow"
See also:

16 Nov 99 | Health
02 Mar 00 | Health
21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes