Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Medical Cannabis
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes muscular rigidity & stiffness, tremors, cramps and slow, imprecise movement. PD affects mostly middle-aged and elderly people. PD is associated with a deficiency of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, and degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain.
Potential Efficacy / Quality of Evidence (Low, Average, High) of Medical Marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease
Average – some of the anecdotal evidence is strong, and it is suggested that some types of PD are cannabinoid-responsive, whilst others are not.
Cannabinoids, Terpenes/Terpenoids, Strains and Ratios that May Help
Other neuroprotective compounds such as CBC may also be useful.
CBDA and THCA may also be useful.
CBD:THC 20:1; CBD:THC 3:1.
Medical MMJ Pros
Cannabis may slow the progress of bradykinesia (abnormality of body movements, shaking and slowness of movement due to PD).
Improve sleep in those suffering from Parkinson’s.
CBD may provide protection against hydroxydopamine toxicity – it’s a neuroprotective, and can help prevent further neural degeneration.
Cannabis may help alleviate tremors and spasticity in a similar manner to MS and epilepsy.
CBD may be an antipsychotic, which may help with dementia, which is also often associated with Parkinson’s disease
Cannabis may be of use for when other medications are ineffective or unavailable
Cannabinoids may help increase dopamine production, which can potentially help regulate movement in those with Parkinson’s.
Medical MMJ Cons
Parkinson’s sufferers are prone to confusion and memory loss – THC could worsen these symptoms.
There is mixed evidence, some highly convincing – cannabis may therefore work for some Parkinson’s sufferers, but not necessarily all.
Long-term use of THC may blunt dopamine receptors.
More About the Condition
Involuntary shaking of body parts (tremors), slow movement, stiff and inflexible muscles, balance issues, sleeping problems, memory problems and a loss of smell (anosmis) are all associated with Parkinson’s, which is a progressive neurological condition that causes an inability for the body to regulate itself properly. Parkinson’s Disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain named Substantia nigra, which leads to a reduction of dopamine production in the brain.
As dopamine plays a vital role in the regulation of movement, dopamine precursors such as carbidopa and levodopa (L-DOPA) are often prescribed. There is no known cause of Parkinson’s disease, although genetic and environmental factors are both implicated. Head injuries may also play a part in the development of Parkinson’s. There are around 1 million sufferers and approximately 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed each year in the United States. Parkinson’s usually starts to take effect in those aged 60 or older, although younger people can develop it, too.
Cannabis may help with Parkinson’s, as both THC and CBD increase dopamine production. Cannabis can also help prevent any shakes, as well as relax stiff and inflexible muscles. Unfortunately, due to the memory problems often present in those with Parkinson’s, care must be taken with regards to THC in particular, which can potentially worsen short-term memory problems.
Quotes from Experts
“There are concentrations of cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia area of the brain, where dopamine-producing neurons are located and which is known to be involved in the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s. Researchers have therefore speculated that a substance such as cannabis, which binds with cannabinoid receptors in an area of the brain so closely involved in Parkinson’s, may positively affect the symptoms of the condition. Extensive research into this is underway.” Source: Cannabis (marijuana) and Parkinson’s
Case Studies – Patient Stories