Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that mostly affects the elderly, but may also develop in younger individuals. It is characterized by the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain that control movement. Symptoms of the disorder gradually worsen over time and they typically begin with and lead to: weakness in one’s muscles; muscle spasms and uncontrollable shaking; rigidity; significant slowing of movement; and then difficulty walking and with maintaining balance. Oftentimes these result in difficulties with sleep, carrying out basic tasks like writing, and maintaining a normal life. These symptoms will typically cause a sufferer to develop behavioral and psychological issues including: depression, difficulty thinking, and even psychosis.
While the disorder is not life threatening, it can be incapacitating and painful to live with, and there is no known cure. There are a number of medications and therapies that may help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Using Cannabis to Treat Parkinson’s Disease
Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. Its usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and its versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.
Much of the past and ongoing research looking into cannabis’ usefulness in treating Parkinson’s Disease has been focused on the therapeutic versatility of both Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); in fact, numerous surveys and studies have shown that both compounds aid with controlling the tremors associated with the ailment, and that CBD can even help with possible psychosis resulting from PD.
Overall, scientific studies have shown that cannabis may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for the following reasons: significantly reducing pain, spasticity, and incontinence; helping to manage uncontrollable tremors; combatting depression and or anxiety; assisting with nausea and the resulting fatigue; battling insomnia; preventing possible psychosis; and with protecting the brain from further degeneration.
Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating Parkinson’s Disease
The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. While most of the ongoing research focuses on CBD and THC, the following list also denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit. It may be beneficial to seek out strains that contain these cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Understanding medical cannabis. Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.
Study: inhaled cannabis mitigates Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Armentano, Paul
NORML, 2014 Mar 17, online article.
Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkison disease: an open-label observational study. Lotan, Treves Ta, et al.
Clinical Neuropharmacology, 2014 Mar, 37(2): 41-44.
Smoking pot eases tremors in Parkinson’s. Susman, Ed.
Medpage Today, 2013 Jun 18, online article.
Cannabinoids and Parkinson’s disease. Garcia-Arencibia, Moises, et al.
CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets, 2009 Dec, 8(6): 432-439.
Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease. Zuardi, AW, et al.
Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2008 Sep 18, online article.
Cannabinoids provide neuroprotection against 6-hydroxydopamine toxicity in vivo and in vitro: relevance to Parkinson’s disease. Lastres-Becker, Isabel, et al.
Neurobiology of Disease, 2005 Jul, 19(1-2): 96-107.
Therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in CNS disease. Ludovic, Dr J Croxford, et al.
CNS Drugs, 2003 Mar, 17(3): 179-202.
Stimulation of cannabinoid receptors reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesia in the MPTP-lesioned nonhuman primate model of Parkinson’s disease. Fox, Susan H., et al.
Movement Disorders, 2002 Dec, 17(6): 1180-1187.
Cannabinoids reduce levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease: a pilot study Sieradzan, K.A., et al.
Neurology, 2001 Dec 11, 57(11): 2108-2111.
Neuroprotection by delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active compound in marijuana, against ouabain-induced In Vivo excitotoxicity. van der Stelt, M., et al.
The Journal of Neuroscience, 2001 Sep 1, 21(17): 6475-6479.
The role of cannabinoids in neurodegenerative diseases. Glass, Michelle Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 2001 May, 25(4): 743-765.
Role of the endogenous cannabinoid system as a modulator of dopamine transmission: implications for Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Rodriguez de Fonseca, Fernando, et al.
Neurotoxicity Research, 2001 Jan, 3(1): 23-35.
Enhanced levels of endogenous cannabinoids in the globus pallidus are associated with a reduction in movement in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease. Di Marzo, Vincenzo, et al.
The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 2000 July, 14(10): 1432-1438.
Cannabis in movement disorders. Muller-Vahl, K.R., et al.
Research in Complementary Medicine, 1999 Oct, 6: 23-27.