Categories: CannabisResearch

Could Cannabis be a Potential Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder that worsens over time. A lack of control over bodily movements, along with depression, cognitive decline, and more, is caused by this disorder. Furthermore, there is no cure known currently.

This disorder can affect eating sleeping, and numerous other essential bodily functions and activities. Years of research have gone into understanding the role of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in this disease. However, the genetic and environmental factors that lead to the development of PD are unknown.

The neuroprotective, antidepressant, analgesic and antioxidative properties have been demonstrated by solid research. Since all of these factors are linked to PD, cannabis may potentially help with the management of the multifaceted symptoms of this neurological condition.


The important role played by cannabinoids, in protection against the neurodegeneration (as seen in PD) is shown by animal studies. Demonstration of THC being particularly important for this neuroprotective effect was seen in a 2011 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Out of 339 PD patients, 46% of the patients were revealed to have experienced relief in the symptoms by cannabis, along with improvements in muscle rigidity and several aspects of motor control, with the inclusion of tremors, in a large 2004 survey. In an observational study of 22 PD patients, similar relief in the motor system was found, along with significant improvement in both sleep and pain, as reported in 2014 in the journal, Clinical Neuropharmacology.

However, only a few clinical trials have been conducting studying the medical benefits of cannabis for PD patients. The revelation of any benefit from oral cannabis extract was failed by a 2004 controlled trial of 17 PD patients, which was published in Neurology. Additional clinical trials are expected where researchers from the University Health Network, Toronto will experiment with cannabis oil with different amounts of THC, to examine the effects on pain, sleep, and motor symptoms that are associated with PD.

Patient Viewpoints

Actor Michael J. Fox, a PD patient, diagnosed at 29, during the filming of “Doc Hollywood” in 1991, didn’t reveal his health condition until 1998, seven years later. However, today the acclaimed actor is a survivor of the neurological condition and a vocal advocate for cannabis treatment.

Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society hosted a two-pronged survey that focused on Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS), online. High levels of effectiveness and lower levels of disability, along with regulation of mood, better memory, and less fatigue, were reported on the survey by participants who used cannabis. Eventually, the results of this survey were published in the journal Complementary Medicine in 2017.

What the experts have to say

Despite encouraging results, prescription of medical cannabis not rushed by medical experts, to PD patients. Issues with the federal illegality as well as the stance of the Parkison’s Foundation might be the reason for the resistance.

Parkinson’s News Today has openly acknowledged the potential benefits of cannabis treatment, focusing on older patients. The news source also cited a 2018 study that was published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, where 2,736 patients of ages 65 and older, were focused upon. The patients used cannabis for various health reasons, and researchers had reported the discontinuation or reduction of opioid usage in nearly one-fifth of these patients, after six months of using cannabis.

Consequently, the news source reported that alleviation of symptoms of older patients with PD, cancer, and other diseases can be safely and effectively achieved by cannabis.

Although there have been conflicting reports seen regarding the effectiveness of cannabis for PD symptoms, enough evidence has supported the justification of placebo-controlled clinical trials. However, since most PD patients are aged 60 and older, discussion regarding cannabis use with their doctors is extremely important for the prevention of potentially dangerous drug interactions with other medications.

Saher Asad Mir

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