Many states list a variety of rare neurological diseases and disorders as a qualifying condition. These are often rare genetic disorders, a specific form of dementia or additional symptom of another disorder (e.g. corticobasal degeneration, which is a symptom of Parkinson’s-plus disease, and occurs as a result of a malfunctioning development and buildup of tau proteins in astrocytes and glial cells), a result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or excitotoxicity, a seizure disorder like hydrocephalus, a common side-effect of a neurological disorder (e.g. dystonia), or any number of disorders and diseases, including unusual tropical diseases!
There is some good evidence that medical cannabis can help treat a variety of neurological disorders, whether directly or indirectly (so just secondary symptoms associated with the main condition). Some of these conditions include:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Side effects of tumors and cancers like neuroblastomas
- Strokes and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
These are just some of the examples, and there are many more.
There are several proposed mechanisms as to why medical cannabis and cannabinoids may help treat various kinds of neurological disorders. There is more evidence for some of the claims that others. These include:
- The neurogenic (brain cell growing) capabilities of some kinds of cannabinoids like CBD and CBG. This may help improve memory.
- Compounds like THC and CBD may help treat pain and spasticity associated wth conditions like multiple sclerosis.
- THC and CBD may help inhibit the production of tau proteins, which can lead to dementia in some types of neurological disorders.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids can help many different types of inflammation, including neurological inflammation. This is one reason why cannabis may be useful for many kinds of diseases and disorders in general.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) has antipsychotic properties.
- CBD and THCA may be useful for their antiseizure properties.
- Cannabinoids may prove to be an alternative or adjunct medication that can be used in place, or to reduce the intake, of various kinds of medication like antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedatives, gabapentin, pregabalin, NSAIDs and opioids. Many of these have far more serious side-effects compared to medical cannabis and naturally-derived phytocannabinoids, especially when they’ve been used regularly.
- Some types of neurological disorder may occur due to a deficiency of endocannabinoids, or faulty endocannabinoid signaling. Replacing these “lost” or misfiring cannabinoids may help put the body back into balance (homeostasis) and reduce the symptoms of various kinds of neurological disorders.
However, there may be some potential problems when it comes to using medical cannabis for some kinds of neurological problems. These include:
- Short-term memory loss with use of moderate or higher amounts of THC. This may be more apparent in less experienced users or younger patients.
- Younger patients may be more sensitive to THC, and care should be taken when utilizing cannabinoids (especially psychoactive ones) for pediatric patients.
- Cannabis may impair balance, and in some may enhance slurred speech.
- Whilst low doses of THC can beat anxiety, higher doses may prompt it in some individuals.
So, whilst medical cannabis can be useful for many types of neurological disease or disorder, care must be taken with regards to ingestion method and dosage.
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