The use of cannabis in the treatment of medical conditions is now becoming a global phenomenon, regardless of whether they are legalized for recreational use or only for medical use.
More and more people are beginning to develop an interest in the health benefits of Cannabis. Research studies are increasing in numbers as marijuana becomes legalized from country to country.
Below are fragments of interviews with American doctors regarding the use of cannabis in the treatment of certain diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.
Did the patients ask you about the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of movement disorders?
To date, most US states have approved the medical use of marijuana. Since the legalization of cannabis, i have been asked questions about the therapeutic role of cannabis in Parkinson’s disease. Usually, it is the older patients who ask about the therapeutic advantages of cannabis use.
Questions like :
- Can they help you control the tremor?
- What should I expect?
- Should I try?
Answers to these questions can only be provided through an honest, open approach, combined with evidence-based medicine. Members of AAN (American Academy of Neurology) and MDS (by the Movement Disorder Society) and other experts on the subject have found that cannabis may play a certain, though limited role in the treatment of neurological disorders. At present, there is not enough evidence of the appropriateness of marijuana use for Parkinson’s disease. However, patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease still show great interest in the use of cannabinoids.
As Dr. Galvez-Jimenez has mentioned, the widespread legalization of marijuana in many states has triggered both curiosity and hope for many suffering from incurable medical conditions. The issue of using marijuana has become a daily question in my medical practice. Patients with full-blown Parkinson’s disease, parkinsonian syndromes and dystonia, in particular, asked about the potential role of cannabis in the treatment of their disease states.
In my experience, patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease (and their families) are very interested and eager to try cannabis therapy. The issue is, there are still no conclusive studies or recommendations from major medical organizations about the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Patients ask about medical marijuana mainly because of the possibility of relieving the symptoms accompanying the disease.
Most patients became interested in the medical use of cannabis due to recommendations from family members. I have the impression that the majority of patients currently suffering from Parkinson’s disease are the baby boomer generation.
In which diseases or disease symptoms cannabinoids have certain uses, according to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)?
According to AAN, cannabinoids can be effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, central-derived pain and hyper-spasticity. However, there is insufficient evidence to use them in the case of dyskinesias (the occurrence of uncoordinated and sudden body movements – head, limbs that are independent of the will of the patient) and dystonia (involuntary movements causing bending and twisting of different parts of the body, resulting to unnatural posture). I emphasize this last point. However, many patients, despite the evidence, still want to try.
What are the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that encourage patients with this condition to try medical marijuana? And what do you say to patients who want to apply it?
In my experience, patients with Parkinson’s disease reach for medical marijuana in the hope that it will alleviate the intense tremors. I stress, however, that the role of cannabis has not been definitively determined in this case. The most commonly used compounds are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The latter substance has a psychoactive effect, but usually allows you to control the symptoms of the disease, but not by a direct action on motor functions, but rather by a calming effect.
It is also important to explain to patients who want to use marijuana the need to find a reputable and reliable company or distributor that can guarantee the right product quality.
Probably the most common symptom is the existence of a drug-resistant tremor. Another symptom that triggers the question is the presence of dyskinesias caused by levodopa (a popularly used drug in Parkinson’s disease).
Do you think that medical marijuana will play a significant role in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other motor disorders?
The use of marijuana for medical purposes is not new, because ancient civilizations used the cannabis plant for this purpose. Judging from the anecdotal experiences of some of my patients, I believe that medical marijuana can work well for patients who suffer from extreme fears or for patients who experience exacerbation of motor symptoms, including tremors or dyskinesias, as a result of stress.
In addition, cannabis can provide some of them with a sense of “well-being”, which can be beneficial especially for people suffering from severe motor fluctuations or dyskinesias. Research suggests that the THC / CBD ratio may be important in the effect that people get from therapy, and these are issues that still need to be addressed.
In the meantime, efforts should be directed towards carrying out more research to answer key questions about the effects of cannabis on Parkinson’s disease and other motor disorders.
Are CBD or THC useful in epilepsy or movement disorders related to epilepsy?
Compounds such as CBD and THC have already been tested in animal models and are currently being studied in humans. So far, there is no strong evidence to support the use of these compounds as effective in adult patients with epilepsy. In the pediatric population, however, there is some evidence of a reduction in seizure frequency in patients with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. The American Society for Epilepsy is committed to supporting research in this field, and given the uncertainty of available knowledge, encourages all epileptic patients to consult a specialist neurologist to analyze existing treatment options.
Currently, there is still a lot of interest in new treatment options and new compounds are being studied. CBD may show better results than expected, which has been proven in pediatric patients; however, we are still waiting for the results of clinical trials.