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Medical Marijuana And Parkinson’s Disease

Medical Marijuana And Parkinsons: How Can It Help

Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Part 3 of 3
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Parkinsons disease counts as a qualifying medical condition in most states with medical marijuana. Learn what the science says about cannabis for Parkinsons now.

Whats the connection between medical marijuana and Parkinsons disease?

With several states now making medical marijuana legal for patients with qualifying diseases like PD, researchers are allowed to conduct more studies to determine the real benefits of this new form of therapy.After all, few can forget the jaw-dropping transformation of Larry, a retired police captain and PD sufferer, as he tries medical marijuana for the first time in the feature documentary Ride with Larry:

In less than five minutes, Larry goes from having severe tremors and being barely able to talk to an almost complete turnaround of both those symptoms and more.

So its no surprise others with PD want to know if medical marijuana is right for managing their symptoms too.

Since medical marijuana is currently only legal in 29 states, researchers are just now beginning to understand why cannabis for Parkinsons might be so successful.

Heres what we know so far:

The Potential Risks Of Taking Cannabis

Until unambiguous trial results are available, cannabis should be used with great caution in Parkinsons because of its associated risks, including addiction. Cannabis affects thinking and executive function, which are already frequently impaired in those with the condition. It should not be taken as a substitute for dopaminergic and other approved Parkinsons treatments. You should always seek medical advice before taking cannabis in any form.

In many countries, taking cannabis is illegal and may result in imprisonment if you are caught with the drug. It can also impair judgement which presents a real danger when driving or carrying out other hazardous activities.

Should I Use Medical Marijuana If I Have Parkinsons

As more states have signed up to legalize medical cannabis, patients have increasingly been exploring it as a way to treat their Parkinsons symptoms. Some who may have found standard drugs to be insufficient turn to marijuana to help sleep, lower anxiety, or reduce tremors, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Robert Duarte, MD, director of Northwell Health’s Pain Center in Great Neck, New York, treats several patients with Parkinsons who have tried medical cannabis to alleviate pain-related problems.

I have also seen it work on insomnia and anxiety, he says. If youre sleeping better and have less anxiety, there is definitely a relationship between that and improving your tremor.

But marijuana doesnt work for everyone, and doctors have to rely on educated guesswork to recommend cannabis-based products.

The problem is there are no standards for dosing or manufacturing different forms of medical cannabis, says James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer with the Parkinsons Foundation. Some people equate access to efficacy. Just because you can gain access to medical marijuana through legalization changes in different states doesnt mean that its effective for a disease.

Rebecca Gilbert, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer for the American Parkinson Disease Association in New York City, knows many Parkinsons patients who have experimented with medical cannabis and had mixed results.

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What Do The Experts Say On Medical Marijuana And Parkinsons Disease Correlation

At the same time, with Parkinsons and marijuana, there are potential risks. One of the most prominent risks is that cannabis can reduce dopamine levels in the nervous system, so experts are still looking at how they can incorporate this in the concept of PD and marijuana.

The resistance by several medical experts to endorse medical marijuana for Parkinsons maybe, in part, due to the apathetic stance of the Parkinsons Foundation. It reiterates that research is still needed to determine how medical marijuana should be administered and how its long-term use can affect symptoms of PD.

Some researchers also site downfalls with cannabis and Parkinsons. They include behavioral changes, risk of lung cancer, as well as the loss of balance.

In light of these adverse effects, experts recommend different ways to explore the benefits of medical cannabis without having to inhale or smoke. One such idea is the use of CBD a nonpsychoactive, therapeutic element of cannabis that doesnt cause you to be high. You cannot smoke CBD either and is readily available in diverse forms, including in oils, teas, and extracts.

However, not all hope is lost. Parkinsons News Today has been more vocal in appreciating the potential benefits of cannabis, more so for patients aged 50 and beyond.

Sativa Or Indica For Medical Marijuana And Parkinson’s

medical cannabis for parkinson

Again, this is going to depend on you! Most people would say that indica strains are best for those with Parkinsons, as theyre known for calming the body the most. However, some hybrids and even some sativas demonstrate strong anti-tremor properties that any PD patient would love.

If youve never tried marijuana for Parkinsons before, wed recommend starting with an indica-dominant strain like GG, Granddaddy Purple, or Sundae Driver. These strains are all quite relaxing but also provide a good punch of giggliness, so youre not left in a sea of laziness, either.

Also Check: Parkinson’s Age Of Onset

Medical Marijuana As A Treatment For Parkinsons Symptoms

Parkinsons disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes tremors, slow movement, stiffness, and loss of balance. Because marijuana directly affects the central and peripheral nervous systems, scientists have studied the effect of marijuana as a treatment for Parkinsons symptoms.

A 2020 review of 14 different studies acknowledged evidence that medical marijuana provides a reduction in anxiety, tremors, and involuntary or erratic movements. However, the researchers concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend medical marijuana use as part of Parkinson’s treatment.

A 2017 study with patients who used medical marijuana over three months to manage Parkinson’s symptoms found that the treatment improved their symptoms and did not cause major adverse effects.

Other research has shown that medical marijuana may be able to help with some Parkinsons disease symptoms, including:

  • Smoking

Medical Marijuana For Parkinsons Disease

So far, 10 of the 28 states that have medical marijuana laws include Parkinsons disease as a qualifying condition. Those states are Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Maine, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut and Arizona.

The active ingredients in marijuana are cannabinoids. Depending on the strain and variety of marijuana, there can be up to 60 different types of cannabinoids present. The best-known of these is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the compound that helps people get high by changing mood, behavior and how the world is perceived.

The presence of cannabinoids isnt limited to marijuana. The human brain also produces these compounds and the brain contains the endocannabinoid system, which has receptors that bind to the cannabinoids. When this binding occurs, it can affect the levels of some brain chemicals, including dopamine.

In some instances, cannabinoids can act as dopamine agonists, meaning they imitate the chemical, bind to the same receptors and produce the same results as natural dopamine.

The basal ganglia the area of the brain that controls movement has a large number of cannabinoid receptors. Interestingly enough, people with Parkinsons disease often have fewer cannabinoid receptors than people without the disease.

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More Research Is Needed

The safety, tolerability, and side effects of medical marijuana require further study. Meaningful benefits have not been substantiated across study populations. As researchers gain a more complete understanding of how the endocannabinoid system works, results may yield more information on the efficacy of using marijuana to ease the symptoms of Parkinsons disease.

What Products Are People Using

Experts To Talk Medical Marijuana & Parkinson’s Disease In Denver

The most common cannabis-derived product people with Parkinson’s used was CBD oil. People interested in using a cannabis-derived product in the future said this is what they’d consider using.

If the side effects are less than traditional Parkinson’s drugs, then I would want to try cannabis. Person with Parkinson’s who has never used a cannabis-derived product

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What Is Parkinsons Disease And How Does It Affect Those With It

An estimated 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year, and nearly one million Americans will have Parkinsons by 2020 .

Parkinsons disease is a neurological disorder which affects your motor system. Its believed to be caused by a severe drop in dopamine levels in your brain.

Since the nerve cells responsible for producing dopamine get destroyed in PD, your brain loses its ability to produce this essential neurotransmitter.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger which helps your nerve cells talk to each other. Low levels mean messages from your brain dont quite reach your muscles as they should.

Over the long term, this is thought to lead to cognitive decline and symptoms such as:

  • Tremors and shaking
  • Muscle rigidity and stiffness of limbs
  • Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
  • Impaired balance and coordination loss

Theres no known cure for PD, and since the disease is progressive, it can also get worse over time.

Medications have been shown to slightly improve a few of these symptoms, though not without their unpleasant side effects.Since several studies show your bodys natural endocannabinoid system is involved in certain neurodegenerative processes, cannabinoids found in medical marijuana may be worth exploring for PD symptoms.

Medical Marijuana Can Improve Quality Of Life

When an anonymous questionnaire was sent out to people with PD attending the Prague Movement Disorder Centre, 25% of 339 respondents admitted to taking cannabis and 45.9% of them found some form of benefit from doing so .

And in another study, researchers observed a statistically significant difference between baseline and final assessment in the overall PD questionnaire score between a placebo and those taking CBD, which suggests there might be a possible effect of CBD on improving quality of life .

Plus, the risk of serious psychoactive incidents, like hallucinations or manic episodes, is less than 1% with medical marijuana.

Though more research will be needed to understand exactly how best to safely prescribe medical cannabis based on each patient and their specific PD symptoms, the early results seem promising.

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How Does Medical Marijuana Affect The Body

Marijuana affects the body through neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers of the nervous system.

Various factors can stimulate neurotransmitter activity, initiating a set of physiological responses. In cannabis, it is mainly THC or CBD binding to endocannabinoid receptors that produce new physiological reactions in the body.

The endocannabinoid system is one of the most important neurotransmitter systems in the body. It utilizes cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system . Cannabis works to turn on endocannabinoid neurotransmitters through activity at these receptors.

What Does The Future Hold

Medical Marijuana and Parkinsons Disease: Is It Safe ...

Cannabis may be a future Parkinsons treatment but for now, we need conclusive evidence of the benefits and to better understand appropriate formulations and dosages, the side-effects and interactions with other medications, and any long-term risks. A lot more research is required both in the lab and in clinical trials, including into specific molecules isolated from the plant, in order to achieve these goals.

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Which Cbd Oil Is The Best For Parkinsons

The best CBD oil for Parkinsons is whichever one helps you feel the best. Typically, we like to recommend full-spectrum CBD products to patients, as the minuscule amount of THC helps to active the entourage effect a helpful phenomenon in the cannabis world. The entourage effect states that when cannabiss components all act together, they produce better, more substantial results. Thus, full-spectrum extracts that encompass full-plant values appear to be most effective. We believe those with disorders like Parkinsons deserve to experience the best treatment possible.

However, if you dont want to consume any THC, thats okay, too! Broad-spectrum extracts also produce the entourage effect, just without the presence of THC. So, while it wont be as strong, it can still be highly effective.

When youre looking for the best CBD oil for your Parkinsons disease, you want to make sure you find a brand you can trust. Always search for their third-party lab-test results to double-check legitimacy reading reviews can also help you find the perfect company. For more information about CBD oil strength and potency,

Top 10 Best Cannabis Strains For Parkinsons Disease

Force Plant is famous for recreational use. Even though it has a higher CBD than the average strain, it is not potent enough to treat shiver. But it still holds more than adequate potency to assist you in dealing with stress. As such, it is also advantageous in battling depression.

This weed also has anti-inflammatory qualities and is ready to alleviate mellow pains, including migraines. As the impact of the Power Plant quiets, you can feel tired or hungry. However, Power Plant is not recommended for daytime use.

Some Indica strains with high CBD are good for getting help in pain and improving the overall quality of life. And, Blackberry Kush Indica-dominant weed is no different than that. Its parent strains include Blackberry Hybrid and Afghani Indica. This Blackberry has a refreshing citrus taste combined with diesel. It will alleviate depression and stress and will help you with managing your chronic pain.

If getting into activities helps you deal with Parkinsons more effectively, this one is an excellent variety to try once. Besides, its good to know that it can help you reduce fatigue and spasticity that can also keep your brain under control.

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Should I Try Medical Marijuana Treatment

Medical marijuana and Parkinsons disease present a promising relationship that has a lot of people interested in trying it for themselves. But, whether or not you should try medical marijuana treatment for Parkinsons disease is entirely up to you.

In general, many people have discovered profound benefits in consuming MMJ for their PD symptoms. The all-natural aspect of medical marijuana is a breath of fresh air for those who have relied on manufactured medications all their life. Plus, the versatility of the substance makes it so people of all backgrounds and age groups can enjoy it without hassle.

If you ask us, wed have to say, yes! Go ahead and try medical marijuana treatment for your Parkinsons disease but make sure you talk to your doctor about it first.

What Does The Research Say

Medical Marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease

So far, there have not been enough clinical trials and research on the effect of marijuana on PD patients. But, the ones that exist increase the hopes of having a possible alternative treatment for PD. Lets take a look at some of the data we have today:

  • The German Parkinson Association conducted a survey on PD patients. It included a questionnaire to assess the perception of patients about medical marijuana and their experience of using the same. A total of 1,348 questionnaires were filled nationwide. After careful analysis, it was concluded that about 8.4% of patients used cannabis for PD. And more than 40% of them experienced an improvement in akinesia, anxiety, and other symptoms.
  • Preclinical studies and research suggest that cannabinoids may provide symptomatic relief and have neuroprotective potential which proves to be helpful against neurological conditions.
  • Another survey conducted by email in January 2020 revealed a lot of helpful information on the use of medical marijuana for PD. When asked about the efficacy of cannabis in managing motor and non-motor symptoms of PD, almost half of the people reported some sort of improvement. The level of efficacy was higher among those using high THC cannabis compared to those using low THC variety.

The research is still at its prime. Federal restrictions are one of the primary reasons for such limited research.

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Where Is Marijuana Use Legal

As of November 2017, marijuana use is legal for medical use in 29 states, and 5 states have approved it specifically for PD. Use should be physician certified, and then patients must register to possess and use any form of marijuana.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary psychotropic cannabinoid in marijuana. It can cause alterations in perception, mood, and behavior. Its effects last for a long time. This creates measurement challenges when establishing or evaluating therapeutic doses.2

How To Use Cbd Oil For It

Using CBD oil for Parkinsons disease is easy. As well discuss below, you can choose several different options, but it all depends on what you like most. The best way to get results is by putting a drop or two of CBD oil under your tongue and holding it there for between 20-30 seconds at a time. Then, swallow. You should begin to feel effects within a few minutes, typically 30 at the most.

From there, the CBD makes its way throughout your body and finding the areas that need help. As it does this, youll likely notice reduced pain, increased comfort, lessened stress levels, a calmer mind, and more.

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European Journal Of Internal Medicine

Another study, driven by Agnelli, and published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine in 2018, asserted that marijuana was a safe and effective method of treating symptoms of PD in older patients. The study stated that marijuana patients experienced a significant decrease in pain. After six months of use, 18% of patients diminished or discontinued opioids as painkillers.

What Is Medical Marijuana


Medical marijuana is cannabis that’s prescribed by a physician to treat or provide relief for a medical condition.

There are around 400 chemicals in the cannabis plant, and more than 60 of them are referred to as cannabinoids. The high marijuana users get is primarily due to the most psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Cannabinol, or CBD, is the other cannabinoid, which is used in medical marijuana. CBD does not cause a high when taken alone and, in fact, moderates the psychoactive effects. Research is being done to determine how medical marijuana can help treat or relieve symptoms of various diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.

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