Parkinson's Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that primarily affects the motor system. Symptoms appear slowly but become progressively more pronounced over time.
Cannabis and Parkinson’s Disease
Over 100,000 Canadians are currently living with Parkinson’s Disease, which equates to one in every 500 people in Canada. Concurrently, over 6,600 new cases of Parkinson’s Disease are being diagnosed each year.
With cases of the disease on the rise, more research is needed to determine the best treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. Subjective reports from patients suggest that medical cannabis may be an effective way to manage the disease, especially in later stages.
What is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is an illness that affects the brain in an area called the substantia nigra. The substantia nigra is responsible for dopamine production in the brain, which eventually carries signals to other parts of the body.
People who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease may not recognize symptoms in the beginning, but as brain cells in the substantia nigra start to die symptoms become more pronounced. Parkinson’s Disease is associated with rigid muscle tone, slow movements, tremors, walking and balance problems, bladder control issues and depression.
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease
There is no one specific test to determine if an individual has Parkinson’s Disease. A patient with symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease should consult with a Neurologist to determine if they meet the criteria for the disease. Neurologists will perform a series of physical and neurological examinations, as well as take a thorough medical history on each individual. If the exams, symptoms and background meet certain criteria the patient will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include tremors, bradykinesia (or slowed movements), rigid muscles, impaired posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, speech changes and motor function impairment.
It is important for doctors to rule out other conditions that may produce similar symptoms, so it is important to see a medical professional early if any of these symptoms arise.
Risk factors for Parkinson’s Disease include age, heredity, sex, and exposure to toxins. Parkinson’s Disease usually appears in middle or late life and increases with age. Parkinson’s is also more likely to affect men.
Traditional Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease
There is no known cure for Parkinson’s Disease although pharmaceutical medications may be helpful in managing symptoms of the disease. Traditional treatments include medications that stimulate dopamine production in the brain. Additionally, MAO B inhibitor medications are given to slow the breakdown of dopamine in the brain. Another common medication used to treat Parkinson’s Disease is called an anticholinergic. This medication works to control tremors associated with the disease.
With all pharmaceutical medications there are significant side effects. For the above medications side effects may include dizziness, nausea, impaired memory, confusion, hallucinations, constipation, impaired urination and others. For some individuals who suffer with Parkinson’s Disease the side effects of medication may be too much to bear.
Medical Cannabis is a unique alternative for people suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. There are many subjective reports from patients who use medical cannabis to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, with very few, if any, side effects.
Medical Cannabis Use for Parkinson’s Disease
CBD and THC have both been shown to provide therapeutic promise for Parkinson’s Disease during pre-clinical trials and further investigation is warranted. Additional research may shed light on the correct dosing of THC and CBD individually or combined to most effectively manage Parkinson’s Disease. There are many different stages of Parkinson’s Disease and more research is needed to determine the best therapeutic dosing of cannabis.
There are also numerous subjective reports of how regular medical cannabis use has improved patient’s symptoms. It has been shown to reduce tremors, decrease muscle spasticity and improve balance. One U.K. woman, Diane Lee, reported that taking daily cannabis oil cured her tremors and allowed her to come off of other medications which were creating horrible side effects. Ms. Lee had been taking sertraline for several years and found that she could not hold things or sleep adequately due to the medication’s effects. Ms. Lee reported that she takes 2 drops of cannabis oil in the morning, and two at night, and has found that the dose is effective at controlling her tremors. Within 10 minutes of taking the cannabis oil Ms. Lee is visibly calmer and does not shake.
The endocannabinoid system plays a key role and regulating the lifespan of a cell, which is something vitally important in the central nervous system (CNS). A study in the Journal of Neurochemistry demonstrated the neuroprotectant effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in patients with Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are similar disease processes in that they are both neurodegenerative. Therefore, cannabis has a neuroprotectant effect and may slow down cell death in the brain.
Daily cannabis use may also reduce the number of cell deaths in the substantia nigra and prevent severe symptoms from occurring in later stages of Parkinson’s Disease.
Cannabis consumptions also demonstrate analgesic effects in the body according to the European Journal of Internal Medicine. After six months of daily cannabis consumption, 18% of patients reported that they had reduced or eliminated opioid medications. After six months, 94% of patients reported an improvement in their condition. Cannabis may very well assist patients in managing their condition without the use of addictive opioids and other habit-forming medications.
The above study also recommends starting low and going slow. Cannabis should be introduced in small doses, over a period of two weeks. When symptoms are effectively managed the correct dose has been achieved.
Apollo Clinics Can Help
Apollo Cannabis Clinic is an evidenced-based clinic who has been conducting observational research on medical cannabis and conditions since 2013. The staff includes health care professionals to assist patients of all ages and backgrounds.
In order to access Apollo’s services, begin by visiting apollocannabis.ca to fill out an intake form. Once the information has been submitted and reviewed an Apollo representative will contact you to book an appointment with one of our doctors.
During the initial appointment, individuals will disclose their medical history and past cannabis use, and the doctor will determine an appropriate treatment plan with regards to cannabis. It is important to be honest and open with the doctor as it will provide them the best chance at helping individuals manage their condition, such as Parkinsons, with cannabis.
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