Several conditions may qualify for medical cannabis treatment. Parkinson’s disease is one. The debilitating ailment affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide. Many patients with PD in the U.S. are using cannabinoid therapy to relieve symptoms, such as reduced mobility, muscle stiffness, and tremors.
Medical Cannabis: The Science Behind the Flowers
Patient surveys and research indicates medical cannabis has the potential to lessen the severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms. For example, a 2017 review of patients in Germany found 54% reported a clinical benefit from medical cannabis. The testimonials from users also suggest they found more advantages with medicinal flowers than levodopa/dopamine agonists at relieving the adverse effects of Parkinson’s.
What Symptoms did they list?
- 43% found a reduction in pain
- Nearly 42% listed less cramping
- More than 20% experienced relief from nine other motor symptoms
The researchers determined that the response rate from patients was limited. As legalization spreads worldwide and throughout the U.S., fewer people will be reluctant to provide information on how medical cannabis helps them.
Cannabinoids & Tremors
One of the hardest parts of life for Parkinson’s disease patients is the tremors. These are involuntary shaking of the hand, foot, or leg on one side of the body and progresses to both. About 80% of patients experience tremors. The movements are hard to treat with medications, which is why medical cannabis reducing and even stopping them is an exciting prospect for many patients.
A study published in Innovations in the January 2019 edition of Clinical Neuroscience indicates medical cannabis has the potential in mice to activate the CB1 to reduce tremors. Additionally, it shows potential as an antioxidant, which may act as a neuroprotectant, slowing the progression of the disease. However, it cautions that these are initial studies using animal subjects. High-quality research involving patients with Parkinson’s disease is necessary to confirm the results and recommend accurate dosing.
The study does provide basic information on how much patients should take to relieve symptoms, such as tremors.
“Starting at low dosages in cannabis-naïve individuals and utilizing slow increases in dosage help minimize adverse consequences. Clinical efficacy in patients with PD is directed toward bradykinesia, stiffness, rigidity, and tremors, which is mediated by nigrostriatal neurons.”
Best Ways to Use Cannabis for Parkinson’s Disease
The available research shows that smoking cannabis provides the most relief from tremors and other symptoms. This is most likely because it’s the most direct route to the central nervous system. Relief comes in a matter of minutes. However, this method doesn’t last longer than an hour or two. A safer way to consume medical cannabis and still have near-instant relief is vaporization. Vaping is healthier for the body because it doesn’t introduce any carcinogens into the body.
“A clinical study of 22 patients with PD and smoking marijuana resulted in improvement of motor symptoms such as bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity, and posture, along with non-motor symptoms such as sleep and pain.”
The future for patients with Parkinson’s disease experiencing relief from tremors, spasms, and stiff muscles with medical cannabis is bright. Many people living with the condition find it the hardest symptom to treat, and the research supports it.