Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Medicinal Cannabis

Parkinson’s Disease is an illness that affects the nervous system. It’s a progressive disease that grows worse over time. From initial symptoms that begin as minor interferences with everyday life, the progression of Parkinson’s can lead to issues that compromise a patient’s mobility in addition to causing tremors, rigidity, and instability.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative illness that causes dopamine nerve cells in the brain to malfunction. When these dopamine-producing nerve cells die, the symptoms begin to appear and the effects become more and more debilitative.

Symptoms can vary between patients, but overall, the disease can produce feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as confusion, stress, tension and memory loss. There is no cure for Parkinson’s but there are conventional treatments designed to help patients feel comfortable. The problem is that the treatments often have to be prescribed as a mix of medications that help control symptoms, but also produce a high number of distressing side effects.


Clinical & Scientific Evidence

There have been studies and papers performed and written that support the benefits of treating Parkinson’s with medicinal cannabis. A study by Sevcik J. and Masek K., of the Institute of Pharmacology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague revealed that there are some cannabinoids that are very powerful antioxidants that can help protect the neurons. They could help prevent the brain’s dopaminergic systems from further degeneration. They could also work together with current treatments to provide more effective treatment.

An additional study from 2001 helped to show how medicinal cannabis could diminish the side effects of certain treatments for Parkinson’s, such as dyskinesia (involuntary, fitful movements), which was caused by the drug levodopa. The study results suggested that a cannabinoid receptor agonist, nabilone, helped to diminish some of the sudden and erratic movements caused by the use of levodopa.


Beneficial Evidence

In 2004, a study that explored the ways in which medicinal cannabis affected Parkinson’s patients in a beneficial way was performed, and the results were that close to 46 percent of Parkinson’s patients experienced a significant upswing in their symptoms once they consumed medicinal cannabis. Over 45 percent showed gains over bradykinesia (movement that is very slow and connected to an impairment in adjustment to the body’s position). Over a 3-month period, study patients also noticed a continuation of improvements.

Medicinal cannabis also proved to have benefits in helping to control Parkinson’s symptoms related to motor and non-motor skills. Over 22 patients underwent a series of tests before and after smoking medicinal cannabis. A predominant number of patients saw a boost in their motor skill test scores, and also noticed a less impact from symptoms such as tremors, rigidness, and bradykinesia.

There’s a well-known theory that symptoms like anxiety and stress can be reduced through the use of medicinal cannabis. While the patient’s own body makeup can determine how effective the cannabis will be, many patients find that it helps reduce anxiety and stress for them.

Some people notice an improvement over symptoms when they take their conventional medication along with medicinal cannabis. So it’s important to consult closely with a medicinal marijuana doctor to find the right balance between conventional prescriptions and medical cannabis.


Supportive Evidence

Medicinal cannabis has been shown to provide a combination of symptom relief from anxiety and pain, plus work as an antioxidant, all by itself. Many of the side effects that occur with conventional treatments aren’t present in medical marijuana.  

Specific to Parkinson’s, while every patient’s experience with the disease depends on the individual, almost universal among the symptoms patients experience is the difficulty or inability to get a restful night’s sleep. This may be because of sleep disruptions caused by pain, muscle tension, and tics.    

Medical cannabis has been shown to be a positive alternative treatment option that is less harmful than painkillers, and can provide relief from spasticity and painful muscle tension.

Another remarkable benefit of medicinal cannabis is in the ability of daily CBD (cannabidiol) treatments to substantially enhance Parkinson’s patients’ sense of well-being and life quality. Research studies supported the finding that CBD helped curb the advancement of neurodegenerative maladies.


Growing Evidence Continues

With the outcome of many studies, trials, and findings, it’s evident that medicinal cannabis has the neuroprotective qualities that help the use of it inhibit the progression of Parkinson’s disease, and in many cases, help to diminish the severity of the symptoms associated with it. New research will only continue to find the benefits of medicinal cannabis as a “miracle drug” with many benefits. As more and more medical studies are conducted, the benefits will soon be too numerous to ignore!

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