Apr 14, 2017 12:25 PM

How Can Medical Cannabis Help With Huntington’s Disease?

The healing properties of cannabis are quite impressive. In addition to a plethora of illnesses treated with cannabinoids, researchers have also revealed the potential benefits of medical marijuana for relieving the symptoms of Huntington’s disease.

What Is Huntington’s Disease?

Huntington’s disease is a debilitating brain illness caused by an inherited genetic mutation. Though it is a rare condition, more than 7,000 Americans aged between 30 and 50 years old suffer from Huntington’s disease. This untreatable disorder slowly kills patients by worsening their mental and physical state.

The symptoms of Huntington’s disease are various, but the illness usually starts with muscle tremors and loss of motor control. As the brain cells continue to die, patients begin to experience seizures, mental degeneration, anxiety, mania, and bipolar disorder.

There is no effective treatment for Huntington’s disease, and even the officially approved medications for reducing the motor symptoms lead to the worsening of the psychiatric condition and other negative outcomes. New York and Pennsylvania have included Huntington’s disease into the list of qualifying conditions for local medical marijuana programs.

In What States Can I Treat My Condition With Medical Marijuana?
In What States Can I Treat My Condition With Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana has been legalized in 28 states, and this means that patients with a debilitating condition can now legally benefit from medical cannabis programs.

Are Cannabinoids Effective for Huntington’s?

In a 2011 study, Spanish scientists investigated the effects of botanical extracts infused with THC and CBD on rat models infected with Huntington's disease. The results revealed that a THC-CBD blend acted as a neuroprotective agent that slowed the progression of the disease. Such optimistic findings showed the importance of conducting further clinical trials.

The same group of scientists also carried out another study on the effects of CBD on neurodegenerative disorders in 2013. The study found that CBD had no undesirable effects or toxicity in laboratory mice. Moreover, CBD appeared to have neuroprotective properties that are potentially effective for treating Alzheimer’s disease and epileptic seizures in humans.

Last year's study published in the Journal of Neurology was the first double-blind, controlled human trial investigating the effects of medical cannabis on people with Huntington’s disease. During the study, researchers tested a cannabis formulation Savitex that included such cannabinoids as THC and CBD. Twenty-six patients consumed cannabinoids or placebo in the form of an oral spray for 12 weeks. The findings showed no negative impact of Savitex, so the researchers concluded that cannabinoids were tolerable and safe for patients with Huntington’s disease.

Cannabis and Neurodegenerative Diseases
Cannabis and Neurodegenerative Diseases
The most famous examples of neurodegenerative diseases are Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, but in fact, there are several hundreds of different diseases that are associated with the slow death of neurons.

However, for determining whether marijuana leads to any improvements in the condition, further human studies are necessary. They should experiment with different cannabinoid formulations, dosages, and prolonged periods of treatment.

Huntington’s disease is a debilitating condition that leads to lifelong health problems. Perhaps, medical cannabis can become an effective medication that will reduce the symptoms experienced by patients with Huntington’s disease and improve their quality of life.

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