Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a degenerative neurological disorder that often takes years to develop, and progresses slowly in most people. With PD, the brain slowly stops producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that contributes to normal nerve functioning, emotional regulation, and the control of body movements.
The current theory of the origins and progression of PD is called Braak’s hypothesis. According to Braak’s hypothesis, the initial signs of PD are found in the enteric nervous system, and olfactory bulb. Early symptoms include loss of sense of smell (hyposmia), sleep disorders, and constipation. Over the course of multiple years, the disease slowly progresses to affect the substantia nigra and cortex. Once the disease has affected these portions of the brain, the individual begins to exhibit signs of motor impairment.
Cannabis for Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Tremors, and dyskinesia: Cannabis has more than 100 neuroactive cannabinoids that work with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors. Individuals with PD tend to have less CB1 receptors than persons who do not have PD. CB1 receptors are present in the substantia nigra and other movement centers of the brain. Cannabis stimulates the CB1 receptor, thus improving tremors and abnormal voluntary movement (dyskinesia).
CBD (cannabidiol) is the compound in the plant that is not psychoactive and is known for its neuroprotective, anti-depressant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Some hypothesize that cannabinoids at the CB2 receptor may provide neuroprotectant benefits for persons with PD1. Use of non-psychoactive CBD has been associated with a reduction of tremors and improvement of dystonia, as well as a reduction of levodopa-induced dyskinesia.
Pain: THC (Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound in the plant responsible for producing the “high” or euphoria, but it is the most effective cannabinoid for pain and tremors. The THC in cannabis interferes with the pain signals traveling to the brain. Use of cannabis as an inhalant has been associated with significant reduction of pain in persons with PD. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent. THC can be applied topically, used as an inhalant, or ingested.
Quality of life: An exploratory double-blind trial of 21 patients with PD concluded that daily use of CBD (75-300 mg) was associated with improved ability to attend to activities of daily living, enhanced emotional well-being, and increased mobility.
Sleep: THC can increase the length of the deep sleep phase, which is involved in the repair and healing that occurs during sleep. Indica strains are most effective for sleep issues. Inhalants can be used to help you fall asleep, whereas edibles will help you stay asleep. Use of cannabis as an inhalant has been associated with significant improvement in sleep in persons with PD.
Depression: Cannabis helps with depression in a number of ways. The THC in the plant produces euphoria and is
uplifting to the mood. CBD binds to many of the same receptors as anti-depressant drugs but without the side effects associated of pharmaceuticals.
Changes in appetite: Cannabis can help improve appetite because it affects the areas in the brain responsible for hunger. Sativa strains, in the form of inhalants or edibles, are most effective for appetite stimulation.
Cannabis is a medicine that must be individualized. The Verdes Foundation offers free nursing consultations to assist you with your cannabis journey.
The Registered Nurses will create an individualized care plan that fits your lifestyle and your budget. In addition, you will be provided with multiple educational handouts so that you feel empowered to manage your own cannabis therapy. For additional education and information, sign up for one of our free, hour-long orientation classes.