Future Research into Medical Cannabis for Dystonia: Saar Anis, MD


Next steps for medical cannabis will need to include how cannabinoids affect the brain, according to the neurologist and movement disorders specialist at Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center in Israel.

“Something I noticed is that our patients, after a few years of use, start to [develop] a tolerance to cannabis, and they start to use bigger and bigger doses…cannabis is not aspirin—we give it to patients, and they can just raise the dose. We have to monitor these rates of dose [increases] to understand exactly how this affects the brain for the short-term, but also for the long-term.” 

The use of medical cannabis (MC) to treat patients with dystonia was recently evaluated in a small, retrospective study, with data presented at The International Parkinson and Movement Disorders (MDS) Society Virtual Congress 2021, September 17-22. Saar Anis, MD, and lead author of the study, spoke with NeurologyLive about the next steps for the use of MC in treating this patient population. 

Anis, who is a neurologist and movement disorders specialist at the Movement Disorders Institute, neurology department, at Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center in Israel, emphasized the need to understand how different cannabinoids affect patients’ brains, specifically for hyperkinetic movement disorders. Additionally, dosing and titration will be of importance, as Anis noted that patients often develop an MC tolerance, therefore feeling the need to increase their own dose. A larger number of patients will need to be studied as well, prior to the general legalization of medical cannabis, he said.

For more coverage of MDS 2021, click here.


Anis S, Faust-Socher D, Sverdlov D, Hezi N, Giladi N, Gurevich T. A real-life study of Medical Cannabis effect on adults with dystonia. Presented at MDS Congress 2021; September 17-22; Virtual. Poster 93.

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