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Parkinson's and Medicinal Cannabis

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the substantia nigra - a specific area of the brain whose main role is to produce dopamine.

Parkinson's currently has no cure, but there are treatments such as medication and sometimes surgeries, that can make day to day life more comfortable. PD is not fatal, but there can be serious complications that arise from the disease that could potentially be fatal. 

Achieving a good quality of life with Parkinson's is not impossible, and can be done if you cooperate with your doctor and follow recommended therapies to treat symptoms - specifically by using dopamine medications.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s disease can physically manifest in a range of ways, including:

  • Tremors (mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands)
  • Bradykinesia
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems

Factors that may increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Genetic factors
  • Race
  • Head trauma
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Medications and other drugs
  • Impact of smoking

How can medicinal cannabis help with Parkinson’s?

After sufferers of PD anecdotally reported on social media that cannabis helped reduced tremors, researchers have begun to look at cannabis as a treatment for Parkinson's more closely. 

People who have Parkinson's have a lower number of CB1 receptors, so agonists like cannabis that boost CB1 receptors could be beneficial in reducing tremors. CB2 is also being studied to determine if engaging them would provide neuroprotective benefits.

Some of the cannabis products that have shown to be beneficial treatments to Parkinson’s sufferers include:

  • Nabiximols
  • Dronbinol
  • THC:CBD extracts
  • CBD extracts
  • Cannabis Sativa
  • Cannabis Indica

They can be consumed as an oil, vape liquid, sprays and wafers.

If you or a loved one are suffering from Parkinson’s and are considering medicinal cannabis as a potential treatment, please speak to your GP or to one of our SAS accredited doctors here.