The use of cannabinoids has been suggested to help with managing neurological and non-neurological conditions. Literature on medical marijuana is incredibly varied. Studies have not clearly supported the use of marijuana for PD. The clinical studies of cannabis as a PD treatment that have been conducted did not use the clinical trial gold standard of a double blind, placebo controlled trial design. Some studies had as few as five subjects.
THC is a primary component of marijuana. Cannabidiol is the other primary component. THC has a long latency of onset and cannot be easily measured for a therapeutic or medicinal dose. Medical marijuana studies primarily provide participants with THC and/or cannabidiol as a capsule, nasal spray or liquid formulation.
PD-Related Medicinal Marijuana Trials
The endocannabinoid system is located in the brain and made up of cannabinoid receptors (a receptor is molecular switch on the outside of a cell that makes something happen inside a cell when activated) that are linked to neurons (brain cells) that regulate thinking and some body functions.
With medical marijuana now legalized in 33 states and Washington, DC, it is obvious that there is strong interest in its therapeutic properties. Researchers are testing marijuana, which is also called cannabis, as a treatment for many illnesses and diseases, including neurological conditions, with Parkinson’s disease (PD) high on the list. But despite several clinical studies, it has not been demonstrated that cannabis can directly benefit people with PD.
Below are several PD-related medical marijuana studies that have been conducted to evaluate the use of cannabinoids:
According to Rachel Dolhun, MD Vice President, Medical Communications at the Michael J Fox Foundation, “The work to date on marijuana and cannabinoids has given promising but conflicting signals on potential benefit for motor and non-motor symptoms as well as levodopa-induced dyskinesia. This therapy may represent a future treatment option for PD, but the correct dose and formulation are not clear, full side effects and drug interactions are unknown, and benefits have not been rigorously determined.” 1
CBD can be expensive and isn’t covered by insurance. The FDA has not approved medical marijuana and classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug which is a drug that has been found to have no acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse. This is one of the reasons why more research has not been done and why organizations like the MJF Foundation have called for a reclassification of marijuana.
After only a few days, it wasn’t evident that it was providing any benefit. I was hoping it would relieve pain due to stiffness. Perhaps it takes more than a few days and/or a dosage change. I plan to finish the bottle I have before deciding whether to continue using it.
Taking CBD oil for Parkinson’s symptoms
Unfortunately, there has not been much research on how effective marijuana is in treating PD symptoms. The few trials that have been conducted have shown that medical marijuana may treat problems with both motor and non-motor symptoms, but more research needs to be done.
One of the most difficult decisions a person with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will face is deciding what medications to use to treat the disease. The choice is a function of several factors including the specific symptoms being treated, the medication’s efficacy, and cost.
I have also used dietary supplements like CoQ10 but did not find it to make any difference. I’ve also considered alternative medications like medical marijuana which recently became legal in my state.
I decided to continue using levodopa since it was providing me with much-needed relief from my symptoms. Over time, I’ve tried other medications either in combination with or in place of levodopa like Azilect, Stalevo, entacapone, and amantadine. Due to the side effects or the drug’s ineffectiveness, I stopped taking all of these except the amantadine. I continue taking levodopa but have switched to Rytary which is the extended-release version of levodopa. I have also had deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery due to the dyskinesia I experienced with levodopa.
Tremors that tend to occur at rest, is usually slow and rhythmic, occurring first in the hand, foot, leg, jaw, chin, mouth, or tongue—and eventually spreading across the body
Difficulties with fine motor coordination
Parkinson’s Disease Medications & Treatment
Safinamide (Xadago) is prescribed when patients taking levodopa and carbidopa have a breakthrough of Parkinson’s symptoms that were previously under control. Side effects include trouble falling or staying asleep, nausea, falls, and uncontrolled, involuntary movements.
Dopamine agonists that imitate the action of dopamine in the brain to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Examples include pramipexole, rot ropinirole and igotine that can be taken on their own or with levodopa. Side effects can include nausea, orthostatichypotension, hallucinations, somnolence, and impulse control disorders.
While they are less noticeable—and often overlooked because of the disease being a movement disorder—there are also many associated non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Disturbances in the sense of smell, eye and vision issues, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, pain, psychosis, fatigue, cognitive changes, weight loss, lightheadedness, sweating, melanoma, personality changes, and gastrointestinal, urinary, and sexual issues can all occur in patients of Parkinson’s disease.