Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder in which sufferers lost most control of their motor skills. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, more than 10 million people across the globe are effected by Parkinson’s. We’ll explain the disease to you, how it’s usually treated, and the effectiveness of cannabis on those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease Explained
Parkinson’s is an incurable disease which affects the central nervous system and causes cell death in a part of the brain that is responsible for motor control. As a result, movement becomes slow and rigid. Sufferers experiences tremors and instability. This frequently results in an increase, which are a major source of dangers for those who suffer from the disease.
While the cause of the disease is unknown, experts believe that a combination of genetics and environment play a role in its development. For example, those that have a family member suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, has a higher chance to have the disease as well. Also, those who are in contact with certain pesticides, and those who have suffered head injuries, are also at increased risk.
In addition to less motor control, Parkinson’s Disease can also manifest neurological symptoms. These may include:
- Impaired cognition
- Speech disorders
As the Disease is incurable, treatments revolves around managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s to make life as normal as possible for those suffering from the disease. The way in which this is achieved are varied. Levodopa is a medication commonly used to alleviate motor symptoms of Parkinson’s but comes with numerous serious side effects, including nausea, tics, joint stiffness, and “punding”.
Brain surgery is another option, though less used, in treating Parkinson’s. It involves stimulating the brain with surgical devices to improve systems. Brain surgery is obviously avoided unless necessary due to the risks associated with the procedure.
Lastly, exercise is seen as particularly important for sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease. There is some evidence that it can improve the symptoms of the disease. Regardless, the serious risk of both standard medication and brain surgery mean finding a safer alternative is imperative for people who have Parkinson’s Disease.
Cannabis Relieves Symptoms and Treats Parkinson’s Disease
One study conducted a survey on sufferers from Parkinson’s Disease. Their research showed that many of the subjects found relief from general Parkinson’s symptoms, improvement of tremors, reductions in slow movement, reduction in muscle rigidity, and fewer involuntary movements. Fewer than 5% of those questioned felt that cannabis worsened their symptoms. This survey suggests that while cannabis may not be a viable treatment for everyone, it shows promise for the majority.
Researchers examining cannabinoids and their effects found that the chemicals in cannabis have neuroprotective properties, particularly on a specific set of neurons in the brain. They not that this protective benefit may be relevant in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease specifically. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, being able to protect those neurons that gets affected by the disease, is of obvious benefit.
Another study conducted in 2014 showed even more positive results. Subjects with Parkinson’s were given cannabis to treat their symptoms. They found that motor function, reduction in tremors, and reduction in rigidity improved significantly. Additionally, quality of sleep was improved, as well as a reduction in pain related to the disease. While they note that larger studies need to be conducted, this shows that most symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are alleviated by cannabis.
Cannabis shows promise as both a treatment for symptoms and Parkinson’s Disease itself. Researchers agree that more testing ought to be done for cannabis and its therapeutic benefit for Parkinson’s Disease. As is stands now, the results of further of further studies may bring medication containing cannabis treating Parkinson’s more effectively than prescription medication.