More Evidence Medical Cannabis Helps Manage Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's Disease and medical cannabis
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New research out of Tel Aviv University in Israel indicates medical cannabis can help those with Parkinson’s Disease manage some symptoms of the condition.

Parkinson’s disease is degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The death of dopamine-producing neurons results in symptoms that can include tremor, slowness, stiffness, problems with maintaining balance and psychosis. It has no cure, and is progressive. It’s a significant issue, particularly in ageing populations.

Conventional treatment involves drugs such as levodopa combined with carbidopa, both of which can cause side effects ranging from dizziness to depression, chest pain and bloody vomit.

The Tel Aviv University study involved a survey of patients using medical cannabis for at least three months.

Forty-seven nondemented male patients were involved in the study, which found improvements in symptoms including pain, depression, tremor and muscle stiffness. The most commonly reported adverse effect was coughing, likely due to 81% of the patients smoking medical cannabis. Confusion and hallucinations were another adverse effect, causing 5 patients to cease treatment.

“Medical cannabis was found to improve symptoms of PD in the initial stages of treatment and did not cause major adverse effects in this pilot, 2-center, retrospective survey. The extent of use and the reported effects lend support to further development of safer and more effective drugs derived from Cannabis sativa,” state the researchers.

A previous study we mentioned last year also indicated medical marijuana may improve motor symptoms of Parkinson’s; including tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement).

The use of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), may also help address some symptoms of Parkinson’s – without the confusion and hallucinations; which is the result of the presence of THC. A 2014 study indicated cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours in Parkinson’s patients and a 2009 study reported a significant decrease of psychosis symptoms under CBD treatment.

In a survey carried out by the USA’s Parkinson’s Foundation in partnership with Northwestern University, physicians reported that 80 percent of their patients with Parkinson’s Disease have used cannabis; however the Foundation says further r esearch is needed in order to determine how medical marijuana should be administered and the impact of its long-term use on symptoms.