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Treatment of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Medical cannabis relieves and prevents symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's can be something you do not notice so suddenly. The first symptoms may be mild. You may feel tired or uncomfortable. We can notice at the beginning of the disease, a slight tremor of the hands or other parts of the body. The person has difficulty standing up ... Parkinson's disease is progressive, as a result, many debilitating symptoms ruin the daily life of the person. As the symptoms get worse, the difficulty of doing daily activities becomes stronger ... But most people with Parkinson's can manage the disease and its symptoms, with cannabis.

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease can be very difficult to manage. It causes a mix of motor and non-motor symptoms that affect almost every aspect of daily life. Although medications prescribed by doctors may be useful, there are still gaps in what treatments can offer ...

Naturally, people with Parkinson's are eager to find other methods to relieve their symptoms. This leads many of these patients to question whether other therapies, such as medical cannabis, may be useful.

Common symptoms

Muscle stiffness. People with Parkinson's disease have a certain rigidity that makes it difficult to move certain parts of the body. This is because the muscles can not relax normally. And it can also cause pain.

tremors. These uncontrolled jerks usually start in the hands and arms. Although they can also occur in the jaw or feet. Note that the thumb and forefinger rub against each other, especially when you rest your hand or when the person feels stressed.

In the beginning, the tremor usually only affects one side of the body or other limb. Over time, tremors can spread to other parts of the body.

Slow movements. Actions like walking, getting out of bed and even talking become more difficult and slow. Doctors call this, the bradykinesia. This happens because the signal from the brain is slowing down.

Bradykinesia can give the face an expressionless mask appearance.

Changes in the walk. A common early sign is that the arm (s) stops swinging naturally when walking. In addition, the steps could become short and dragging. Thus, it is difficult to walk in the corners, and it seems that the feet are glued to the ground.

Other signs

Parkinson's disease is an evolutionary disease. Which means that the symptoms get worse over time. Thus, it can affect movement as well as vision, sleep and mental health. However, a person with Parkinson's may have different symptoms at different times than someone else with the same disease:

  • Balance disorders
  • Imbalance forward or backward. Which can cause falls.
  • Posture stationary with slanted head and sagging shoulders
  • Jerking of the head
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty with the toilet
  • Tiredness
  • Excessive sedation
  • Skin problems, such as dandruff
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • Difficulty getting an erection or an orgasm
  • Dizziness or fainting when standing up
  • Fear and anxiety
  • The confusion
  • Dementia or disturbances of thought and reasoning
  • Loss of smell

These symptoms do not always mean that you have Parkinson's disease. It could be something else ... But in about 5% of cases, the disease is the result of the mutation of certain genes. However, in the vast majority of patients, the cause is unknown. Parkinson's disease is probably a combination of genetic predispositions and environmental factors.

Parkinson's disease (among others) is attributed to degeneration of neurons producing dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a fundamental role in the control of motor functions.

At present, there is no cure for the disease and medical intervention is limited to the treatment of symptoms. One of the main forms of treatment, levodopa is used to compensate for dopamine depletion. But the treatment stops being effective after a few years, and causes uncontrolled movements (dyskinesia) in patients ...

Cannabis and the brain

As early as the end of the nineteenth century, the use of cannabis to treat Parkinson's disease was described for the first time in Europe in the "Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System" by William Richard Gowers (Philadelphia, PA, USA: P Blakiston's Son & Co; 1888). One hundred and thirty years later, we are now looking at the scientific evidence ...

Cannabis is a kind of plant that, when ingested by humans, can have many effects on the brain and body. Further scientific research has found that the effects of the cannabis plant occur through the binding of certain cannabis chemicals to a receptor system in the human brain called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The cannabis compounds known as cannabinoids act on our brain by binding to structures called CB1 receptor (mainly found in neurons and responsible for the psychoactive effect of some of these cannabinoids) and CB2 receptor (mainly found in glial cells and responsible among others for the inflammatory response).

These receptors, as well as the endogenous molecules that activate them (endocannabinoids) are part of the endocannabinoid system, an intercellular communication system present in our body. With this link, ECS regulates many functions, including mood, pain, memory and appetite.

The endocannabinoid system has been tampered with in Parkinson's disease, both in experimental animal models and in patients with this disease. This has been interpreted as a reaction of the body to the damage caused by the disease. Some consider the endocannabinoid system as the innate defense mechanism of the brain.

THC and CBD

The two main chemicals that are isolated from the cannabis plant are the Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). In most cases, cannabis for medical purposes consists of purified combinations of these two chemicals in varying proportions. The combination can be dispensed as a liquid, pill or nasal spray.

THC and CBD both interact with ECS and their therapeutic effects are numerous and recognized.

And, one could therefore assume that THC and / or CBD may be useful for aspects of Parkinson's disease such as:

  • the tremor
  • muscle stiffness
  • insomnia
  • dystonia
  • pain
  • dyskinesia
  • weight loss

By binding to the CB1 receptor in neurons, they can protect them against a range of harmful stimuli. They also have a capacity anti-inflammatory, mediated by the CB2 glial receptor. In addition, these cannabinoids are compounds antioxidants important that protect neurons from damage caused by the oxidative stress (a very important factor in Parkinson's disease). This has been demonstrated in many preclinical studies for various diseases, includingAlzheimer, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor neuron disease).

Clinical Studies on Cannabis and Parkinson's Disease

Some clinical trials have been conducted on the role of CBD and THC in Parkinson's disease. In one of them, an open study on CBD, psychotic symptoms decreased. In a second trial, another open study on CBD, the symptoms of REM sleep disorder decreased. And in a third study, there is a clear improvement in the quality of life of patients. All of these available studies have been summarized in one Document synthesis in this tableau.

In another study, patients were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire about their experience with cannabis. Of the 84 patients who admitted to using cannabis, 39 reported a slight or substantial improvement in symptoms, including tremor and dyskinesia, which is further demonstrated by survey from the University of Colorado.

Medical cannabis seems a safe and effective way for seniors to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but ...

However, observational studies of this type pose many problems: researchers can not control the variables of the experiment . Indeed, there is no control group with which to compare the effect; the measurements are indirect and based on the patient's own reports. Thus, such studies produce many variables that can confuse the result.

Mixed results

Despite the large amount of pre-clinical evidence accumulated, none of the clinical research conducted to date has yielded totally positive results. However, in light of these findings, cannabis use does not appear to be the best strategy for treating Parkinson's disease. In short, the cannabis therapy depends on the patient, and his predisposition to cannabis. However, treatment with compounds with a better pharmacological profile, such as Δ-THCV associated with CBDeither in the pure state or as a botanical extract of plants enriched in these compounds, could prove useful.

Treatment of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease
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