For people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, as well as their family and loved ones, it can be incredibly frightening. Parkinson’s is a scary disease, and it leaves people wondering whether or not there are alternative treatment options available, outside of what would be considered traditional or mainstream.
One area of research is on marijuana and Parkinson’s. Does marijuana help Parkinson’s?
The following provides an overview of what Parkinson’s disease is and the potential relationship between marijuana and Parkinson’s.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system, and eventually, it will likely affect how someone moves, speaks and writes. The symptoms tend to start slowly and may include very slight hand tremors, or stiffness. Another one of the initial symptoms of Parkinson’s in many people is something called bradykinesia, which means muscle stiffness makes it more difficult for someone to move as they did before.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s are characterized as movement disorders, and these symptoms are rooted in neurology. Similar conditions include cerebral palsy and Tourette syndrome.
It’s believed that there are around one million adults in the U.S. with Parkinson’s and along with tremors and slowed movement, other symptoms may include a face that lacks expression.
When Parkinson’s begins appearing in older patients, they often don’t seek treatment because they believe it’s just part of the aging process.
Parkinson’s disease is thought to be linked to low dopamine levels in a certain area of the brain. In people with this condition the dopamine cells have died or are dying, and when this happens, it’s hard for people to control their body movements and do certain things. As people progress in the disease, their dopamine levels follow the same trajectory and symptoms become more pronounced.
This disease isn’t a direct cause of death in people who have it, but it isn’t curable currently, and it does get worse over time.
Some of the celebrities with Parkinson’s include Janet Reno, Michael J. Fox, and Muhammed Ali.
Because it’s incurable, there is a lot of attention on looking for ways to treat at least some of the symptoms of the disease, which is why marijuana and Parkinson’s has become a hot topic of discussion and research.
Does Marijuana Help Parkinson’s?
Does marijuana help Parkinson’s and what are the reasons people believe it might?
With Parkinson’s being the second most common neurological disorder among people in the U.S., it’s no surprise that a lot of research is being done into how to help patients. There has been research recently that specifically looks at marijuana and Parkinson’s.
There are a few specific ways marijuana and Parkinson’s may have a beneficial relationship with one another.
Marijuana has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and researchers believe this may help prevent neuron damage. This is important with Parkinson’s because inflammation may be responsible for causing damage to brain neurons that produce dopamine, and that’s one of the contributors to the symptoms of Parkinson’s. If marijuana could slow some of the neuron damage in the brain, it could also slow the progression of Parkinson’s.
Other benefits of marijuana and Parkinson’s together can include pain management and help with symptoms like sleep problems and nausea. Marijuana may help people with Parkinson’s enjoy easier movement because it has muscle relaxing properties as well.
At the same time, with marijuana and Parkinson’s there are risks. One of the biggest risks is that marijuana can potentially reduce dopamine levels in the brain, so researchers are looking at how they could accommodate this in the concept of marijuana and Parkinson’s.
Possible downfalls to consider with marijuana and Parkinson’s can include the mood and behavioral changes that can result from the use of marijuana, as well as loss of balance and the risk of lung cancer that comes with chronic marijuana use.
With these adverse effects in mind, it may be possible that researchers start to look at different ways to get patients with Parkinson’s the benefits of marijuana, without having them smoke it or become high. One idea might be the use of CBD, which is a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana that has many therapeutic benefits but doesn’t cause a person to become high. CBD isn’t smoked and is available in many different forms including in oils, food products, teas, and extracts.
In many states, CBD can be purchased without a prescription, so it could provide more options for people in terms of marijuana and Parkinson’s.
Summing Up—Marijuana and Parkinson’s
The question “does marijuana help Parkinson’s” isn’t an uncommon one. It’s increasingly asked, and there is a growing amount of research that shows marijuana and Parkinson’s may have a beneficial relationship to one another.
Some of the reasons marijuana and Parkinson’s could go well together is because marijuana can provide pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects, and it may be a neuroprotectant.
At the same time, with marijuana and Parkinson’s, researchers are still working to determine exactly what the benefits may be and whether or not the adverse risks are worth those positives.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.