By Deborah Mitchell
If upcoming study results are positive, people with multiple sclerosis may have a marijuana gum available for treatment of symptoms by 2017. The gum is made by AXIM Biotechnology, Inc. and is called MedChew Rx.
The marijuana gum has been tested for treatment of pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and the company expects the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to approve the product for this use. MedChew Rx contains 5 mg of cannabidiol (CBD) and 5 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and will be available by prescription.
Cannabidiol is one of more than 100 cannabinoid chemicals found in marijuana plants. It does not make people high and has been shown to possess multiple health benefits, including an ability to treat seizures and other neurological conditions. THC, another type of cannabinoid, has psychoactive properties as well as medicinal abilities.
How marijuana gum works
According to Dr. George E. Anastassoy, MD, DDS, MBA, chief executive officer of AXIM Biotechnology, the marijuana gum is unique because of its “precise, controlled release mechanism to the oral mucosal capillary circulation,” which means it bypasses the liver. Obtaining the marijuana components via chewing also is safer, associated with fewer side effects, and more socially acceptable than traditional methods, such as smoking or oral consumption, according to Professor John Zajicek, an expert on medical cannabis and the individual responsible for conducting AXIM’s clinical trials on pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis.
Zajicek noted in a company statement that “Chewing gum is a potentially good route as it would avoid respiratory irritations” that some people experience when smoking and that “it will deliver a prolonged dose without peaking too much.”
The gum also provides “neuroprotective and neurostimulatory benefits” derived from chewing, an activity which itself has a therapeutic impact. In fact, research has shown that chewing (mastication) promotes generation of neurons (neurogenesis), stimulates the cardiovascular system, and enhances oral health, as well as helps with stress reduction and loss of cognition associated with aging.
Other marijuana and MS studies
Previous research has shown that marijuana can be an effective and safe treatment option for people with multiple sclerosis. Numerous studies have focused on Sativex, an oral marijuana spray that also contains both THC and CBD, and its effectiveness in managing pain and spasticity.
Other studies have used marijuana capsules, such as a 22-center placebo-controlled effort involving 279 patients. The capsules contained both THC and CBD and were found to provide significant benefits over placebo for muscle stiffness, spasticity, muscle spasms, sleep quality, and pain.
AXIM Biotechnology is based in New York and Ridderkerk, the Netherlands, and is hoping to price the mint-flavored marijuana gum at a price less than its closest competition, Sativex (about $30/day). This product has not yet been approved in the United States.
The company also hopes its marijuana gum proves to be helpful for individuals beyond those with pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. Some of those conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, glaucoma, restless leg syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease, among others.