MMJ vs Parkinson's Disease and it's Painful Symptoms

According to a recent study published in Clinical Neuropharmacology, participants using smoked medical cannabis had significant improvements in motor disability and impairment. These results were found in addition to reported decreases in tremor (repetitive shaking), rigidity (stiffness or inflexibility), and dyskinesia (difficulty in performing voluntary movements), and improvements in pain and sleep disturbance. This study was flawed in that it included only 22 participants, there was no blinding to treatment (i.e. both the participants and researchers knew that they were using cannabis, which means that the results were potentially a result of “expectancy effects”), and they used a “within-subjects” design, which has well-documented weaknesses. Still, these results show that further study is appropriate and warranted.

While there is limited evidence that has been gathered evaluating cannabinoid medicine and medical cannabis use as treatment for PD, there is a wealth of information on the effects of these options on symptoms often experienced by patients with PD, such as pain and sleep disturbance. According to a post on the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation website by Blair Ford, M.D., “Descriptions of PD do not generally include the mention of pain. And yet, when carefully questioned, more than half of all people with Parkinson’s disease say that they have experienced painful symptoms and various forms of physical discomfort.” There is mounting evidence that cannabis may be useful for some patients in managing chronic pain. Additionally, evidence for relief from symptoms experienced by patients with PD, such as depression and anxiety, has been discovered with the use of cannabinoid therapy. Cannabis use may also provide relief to patients experiencing nausea and vomiting, potential side effects of certain standard PD medications.

No large, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blinded clinical trials have been conducted on the effect of whole-plant cannabis on patients with PD, meaning that there is no evidence that a cause-effect relationship exists showing that cannabis use improves symptoms or slows progression for patients with PD.

When the evidence on cannabis in relation to a certain disorder is limited, we can turn to patient stories for anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana may provide relief for some patients, especially those with symptoms uncontrolled by standard therapies. A recent blog post, ”The goal of medicine is to balance evidence with stories” highlights the important point which is its title. Given the favorable safety profile of medical cannabis and potential for low-risk experimentation for most patients, patient stories help in guiding healthcare professionals to which symptoms/disorders may be alleviated by the use or study of cannabinoid medicine.

According to David Esparza, a patient who has lived with PD for over 13 years and has experienced negative side effects from standard therapy, “[Cannabis] helps me with my attitude, it helps me with my shaking, it helps me deal with my new life… I don’t know how I look to other people… but I know what I feel like [when using cannabis]… I feel good.” He shares his story here.

Much Much more at: Medical Jane

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