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Parkinson’s Disease

Key Findings:

The endocannabinoid system as a target for the treatment of motor dysfunction (2009)
  • “There is evidence that cannabinoid-based medicines… might be beneficial in basal ganglia disorders, namely Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Huntington’s disease (HD).”
  • These benefits not only include the alleviation of specific motor symptoms [e.g. choreic movements..bradykinesia..and tremor], but also the delay of disease progression due to the neuroprotective properties demonstrated for cannabinoids (e.g. CB1 agonists reduce excitotoxicity; CB2 agonists limit the toxicity of reactive microglia; and antioxidant cannabinoids attenuate oxidative damage)
Survey on Cannabis Use in Parkinson’s Disease: Subjective Improvement of Motor Symptoms (2004)
  • “Patients using cannabis for at least 3 months reported significantly more often a mild or substantial alleviation of their PD symptoms in general, improvement of resting tremor, bradykinesia, and muscle rigidity.”
  • “The late onset of cannabis action is noteworthy. Because most patients reported that improvement occurred approximately 2 months after the first use of cannabis, it is very unlikely that it could be attributed to a placebo reaction”
Promising cannabinoid-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease: motor symptoms to neuroprotection. (2015)
  • Two important neuroprotective mechanisms are elicited by cannabinoids in experimental models of PD.
    • First, they decrease increased oxidative stress in PD, a mechanism that seems to be independent of any involvement of cannabinoid receptors.
    • Second, they increase density of CB2 cannabinoid receptors, mainly in reactive microglia, which regulate micro-functions of glial cells and homeostasis of surrounding neurons
  • “Reducing glutamate release is a prominent effect of cannabinoid agonists that might affirm their role as potential anti-excitotoxic compounds for use as PD therapeutics.”
Self-Reported Efficacy of Cannabis and Other Complementary Medicine Modalities by Parkinson’s Disease Patients in Colorado (2015)
  • “While only a small number of participants in our study reported use of cannabis for PD, those that did reported benefits in mood (56%), sleep (56%), motor symptoms (22%), and quality of life (22%).”
  • “Our data suggests that PD patients in our cohort tend to utilize cannabis for its impact on nonmotor symptoms rather than motor symptoms, and it was rated as the most effective therapy for sleep and mood improvement amongst all CAMs [Complementary and alternative medicine]”
Cannabinoids and neuroprotection in basal ganglia disorders. (2007)
  • “They [cannabinoids] are able to decrease inflammation by acting on glial processes that regulate neuronal survival and to restore blood supply to injured area by reducing the vasoconstriction produced by several endothelium-derived factors.”
  • “…cannabinoids may provide neuroprotection in different neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s chorea, two chronic diseases that are originated as a consequence of the degeneration of specific nuclei of basal ganglia, resulting in a deterioration of the control of movement.”
Cannabis (Medical Marijuana) Treatment for Motor and Non–Motor Symptoms of Parkinson Disease: An Open-Label Observational Study (2014)
  • “Mean (SD) total score on the motor Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale score improved significantly …after cannabis consumption. Analysis of specific motor symptoms revealed significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia.”
  • “There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores. No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed. The study suggests that cannabis might have a place in the therapeutic armamentarium of PD.”
Medical Cannabis in Parkinson Disease: Real-Life Patients’ Experience (2017)
  • Medical cannabis was found to improve symptoms of PD in the initial stages of treatment and did not cause major adverse effects in this pilot, 2-center, retrospective survey.”