Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative illness caused by the breakdown of dopaminergic neurons in the special brain area that is responsible for movement and called substantia nigra (SN). Patients with PD often suffer from slowed movement, muscle stiffness, poor mobility, tremors, and sleep disturbance. It is a serious disease that has no cure, but some treatment is available. To those who experience negative effects of standard therapy, cannabis may give the desired relief of some symptoms.
A study published in Clinical Neuropharmacology proves that patients with PD who used medical cannabis treatment had improvements in motor disability. Moreover, marijuana also caused a significant decrease in shaking (tremor), stiffness, and dyskinesia (complications in making voluntary movements) as well as brought pain relief. However, as only 22 participants took part in the study and there was no blinding to treatment, more profound and detailed research is needed.
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology shows that patients with PD and without dementia or comorbid psychiatric conditions who were treated with 300 mg of CBD (cannabinoid cannabidiol) per day highly improved their quality of life in comparison with those who had received the placebo. Unfortunately, there was no improvement in motor function and no evidence for possible neuroprotective effects. Although the control group was quite small, the results of the research are rather impressive and informative.
It is also worth pointing out that medical cannabis may help with such symptoms of PD as chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. It may also provide relief to people experiencing nausea and vomiting, which are side effects of some standard PD medication.
Cannabinoid THC is also useful in the treatment of PD as it can help prevent the damage caused by free radicals and activate PPARγ (a special receptor that can create new mitochondria), a study says. Thus, there is some evidence that cannabinoids may potentially work as neuroprotective agents.
Increased research is needed in order to find out which symptoms can be treated with marijuana and what is the best way to administer medical cannabis in the treatment of PD.