Treating Parkinson’s With Marijuana

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Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease With Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana may provide relief for symptoms experienced by patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease (PD). PD is a condition which produces neuromotor dysfunction resulting in involuntary movements such as tremors and tics.

A number of U.S. states consider PD to be a qualifying condition for access to medical marijuana. These include Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island.

In a recent survey, 95 percent of neurologists reported that their PD patients have asked them to prescribe medical marijuana. The survey also revealed that only 23 percent of physicians had formal education on the medicinal use of cannabis, while 93 percent of physicians want the topic to be taught in medical school.

Only 11 percent of physicians had recommended the use of cannabis to treat the condition in the year prior to the study, however they reported that 80 percent of their PD patients had tried cannabis.

Research Into Medicinal Marijuana for Parkinson’s

Research into the use of cannabis as a treatment for PD suggests that it may provide benefits such as reducing tics.

The human brain has abundant cannabinoid receptors. The basal ganglia, a region of the brain implicated in Parkinson’s disease, has a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors and regions known as the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra pars reticulata, which are located within the basal ganglia, are densely packed with cannabinoid receptors.

A recent report out of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) that looked at the evidence supporting the use of marijuana for treating symptoms of PD and other neurological disorders including spasticity and pain showed that symptoms seemed to improve.

In a report on a pilot study titled, “Cannabinoids Reduce Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease,” researchers demonstrated that a cannabinoid receptor agonist known as nabilone significantly reduces dyskinesia (involuntary movement) in PD patients.

A research report published in the Movement Disorders Journal in 2004 discussed a survey of Parkinson’s disease patients who used marijuana. Researchers reported that “39 patients (45.9%) described mild or substantial alleviation of their PD symptoms in general, 26 (30.6%) showed improvement of rest tremor, 38 (44.7%) had improvement in bradykinesia, 32 (37.7%) had alleviation of muscle rigidity, and 12 (14.1%) had improvement of L-dopa-induced dyskinesias.” Patients using cannabis for at least 3 months reported significantly better results.

Using Marijuana To Treat Parkinson’s Disease

There are both benefits and risks associated with the use of medical marijuana for patients with PD. Benefits include reduction of anxiety and pain, improved sleep, increased appetite, and reduced nausea. Potentially unwanted effects associated with the use of cannabis are well known and include impaired cognitive function, mood and behavioral changes, and lethargy.

However, there are strains of medical marijuana which are low in the psychotropic cannabinoid delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and higher in a non-psychotropic cannabinoid known as cannabidiol, or CBD. These include Ringo’s Gift (24:1), Harlequin (5:2 CBD/THC), and Stephen Hawking Kush (1:1).

Much more research will be needed to understand which PD patients and which symptoms respond best to treatment with medical marijuana. Marijuana is not to be seen as a replacement for traditional Parkinson’s disease medications.

How To Get Medical Marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease

If you are a resident of a legal state who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease you may be eligible for a medical marijuana card. Talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor is not open to the idea of using cannabis to treat your condition you may need to seek out a doctor who is. To consult with a certified doctor in order to get a medical marijuana card, fill out the MMJ patient registration form, press submit and a physician or clinic representative will contact you as available.

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