Parkinson’s Disease and Medical Cannabis Treatment
The progressive nervous system disorder of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) brings on depilating conditions over time. What first begins with a slight hand tremor can turn into slurred speaking, according to the Mayo Clinic, adding the disease is incurable but treatable with medication and surgery.
PD awareness began after A-lister Michael J. Fox started showing signs of the condition. The actor had made great strides in fighting the disease since 1991 when he was diagnosed with young-onset PD when he was 29. Second to Alzheimer’s disease as the most common degenerative neurological disorder, PD affects 1% of the population of adults over the age of 60, according to Parkinson’s Disease Health Information and Community.
One of the most promising reports that medical cannabis eases the condition is from The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson’s Research, reporting that “pre-clinical work, including several studies funded by MJFF, shows that cannabinoids may protect brain cells through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.”
Parkinson’s Disease Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
Though no information on how to cure PD is known, it is sure that it is caused by genes and environmental triggers, according to the Mayo Clinic. Several complications arise from PD, including sleep disorders, problems chewing and swallowing, bladder issues, and constipation. Symptoms of PD worsen over time. After initial signs of hand tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, impaired posture, and speech and handwriting changes follow.
Leveraging Cannabinoids for Parkinson’s Disease
While medical cannabis has already shown that it can ease some symptoms of PD, including movement disorders, inflammation, and sleep disorders, research has been performed to show that cannabis can ease the condition itself. A 2019 study, Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, showed that medical cannabis could have medicinal efficacy in PD.
“Endocannabinoid receptors exist throughout the nervous system and are documented to influence receptors affecting a wide variety of areas,” reports the study. “Neuroprotective aspects might be induced by cannabis exposure that might yield benefit against the nigrostriatal degeneration of patients with Parkinson’s disease.”
The Parkinson’s Foundation notes that medical cannabis is high on the list for effective treatment methods, reporting several studies to confirm the favorable plant properties. “In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial (n = 7), the authors demonstrate that the cannabinoid receptor agonist nabilone significantly reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesia in PD,” according to the foundation.
Lastly, the American Parkinson Disease Foundation breaks down cannabis effects on both the brain and endocannabinoid systems. “More research needs to be done, but based on what is known about the biology of cannabis, one could hypothesize that THC and/or CBD may be helpful for aspects of PD such as tremor, stiffness, insomnia, dystonia, pain, dyskinesias or weight loss,” according to the foundation. With study upon study showing the benefits of medical cannabis on PD and its symptoms are finding hope in a better quality of life.