About one million adults in the US alone are suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Over 60,000 of these cases are diagnosed annually, not including those that are undetected.
Accompanied by tremors, inability to stay still, incoherent speech, impaired balance, poor coordination, and posture- it's the second most common neurological disease in the US. Patients suffering from Parkinson's Disease usually exhibit an inexpressive face due to lack of control on facial muscle creating involuntary ''stiffness''.
The main cause of Parkinson’s Disease is a rapid reduction of dopamine. The dopaminergic neurons found within the substantia nigra part of the brain are slowly dying, or have completely ceased. Other known factors are having the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleeping behavior disorder that doubles the risks of acquiring Parkinson’s disease.
The Cost of Parkinson’s Disease
From a report issued by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the cost incurred by Parkinson's Disease is approximately $25 billion each year. Males have 50% higher risks of developing this neurological disease and tell-tale signs proliferate around 60 years of age.
Contrary to the popular belief that it's an ''old-age sickness”, there are also around 4%-5% of individuals around the age of 21 to 40 experiencing Young-onset PD.
So, How Can Cannabis Alleviate Symptoms Of Parkinson's Disease?
A study conducted with the help of 339 patients attending treatment at Prague Movement Disorder Centre proved how cannabis can ease symptoms of PD. 46% of these patients reported an overall improvement from the symptoms.
Another open-label observational study points smoked cannabis as the main factor for the improvement of Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) score in 17 patients. The smoked marijuana effects gave these patients a relief for about 3 hours.
A study by Zuardi et al (2008) provided Parkinson's Disease patients with flexible doses of CBD starting from 150 milligrams per day within a four-week period on top of their usual clinical therapy. CBD lowered the total Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) for PD patients diagnosed with psychosis.
Additionally, Researchers from Touro College of Pharmacy, New York have unlocked a ground-breaking discovery. The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in controlling Parkinsons' Disease symptoms and that CBD, having the ability to reduce pain and bind with dopamine receptors, can minimize the serious effects of declining dopamine levels in the brain.
Patients with Parkinson's disease are observed to have a gradual decline in their dopamine levels. Cells that generate the hormone dopamine found within the substantia nigra part of the brain die. The reason as to why these dopaminergic neurons die is still unknown.
The dwindling dopamine levels lead to a progressive and cureless disease- the Parkinson's Disease. This dopamine decline leads to poor muscle coordination and movement.
While more and more studies unlocking the ability of cannabis, specifically cannabidiol, to provide medical benefits for people suffering from this daunting neurological disorder surfaces- there is still an ongoing debate regarding its effectivity.
CBD is becoming a feasible solution to various movement and neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Huntington’s, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Recent claims of CBD reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety also further support the idea that cannabis does have undeniable medical benefits.
While present medications for Parkinson’s Disease such as catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, anti-cholinergics, and dopamine agonists do provide relief for motor symptoms, they’re often unable to reduce non-motor discomforts. This is leading experts to dig even deeper to come up with a more effective cure.
With 29 states approving the use of medical marijuana, are we opening the doors for cannabis to finally treat this chronic neurological disease?