Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain’s production of dopamine and motor control. Dopamine is responsible for relaying messages within the brain that controls movement throughout the body. When neurons that release dopamine are destroyed patients will eventually develop tremors, muscle stiffness, insomnia, and decreased motor control. Along with shaking, tremors or “freezing” symptoms, a person suffering from Parkinson’s Disease may also suffer constipation, difficulty swallowing, blinking, drooling and muscle aches and pains. These physical symptoms can bring about anxiety, depression, stress, tension and memory loss. Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease with no cure that progresses/worsens over time.
Medical Cannabis and Parkinson’s Disease
Recent studies show that patients suffering from Parkinson’s who smoked medical cannabis showed significant improvements in motor control, impairment, pain and insomnia. Additionally these patients reported a decrease in tremors and muscle stiffness. Evidence shows that cannabis may be useful in managing Chronic pain, depression and anxiety. Cannabis use may also provide relief to patients experiencing nausea and vomiting, potential side effects of certain standard PD medications. Patients with Parkinson’s Disease are shown to have fewer CB1 receptors causing a decrease in levels of anandamide (part of the body’s natural endocannabinoid system). More recent studies have shown that some cannabinoids are powerful antioxidants that act as neuroprotectors in the brain to prevent the death of neurons, effectively slowing the progression of Parkinson’s. Because cannabis is a natural medicine it may be a safe and useful additional therapy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease who are finding it difficult to control their symptoms with standard therapies.