Study Summary: Cannabis in Parkinson's Disease

Updated: Oct 9

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A February 2021 peer-reviewed research study entitled "Cannabis in Parkinson's Disease: The Patients' View" that was published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease and conducted in Germany had the stated objective of assessing the Parkinson's patient community's "perception of medical cannabis and patients' experience with medical cannabis."

The design of this study was that of a questionnaire-based survey that "evaluated general knowledge and interest in medical cannabis, as well as the frequency, modalities, efficacy, and tolerability of application." Study participants were located throughout the nation of Germany and all were members of the German Parkinson Association.


What is Parkinson's Disease?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Parkinson's disease is "a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves." It reports that the onset of symptoms begins slowly and that it may be "a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand."


One of the major symptoms of Parkinson's is tremors, but "the disorder may also cause stiffness or slowing of movement."

One of the major symptoms of Parkinson's is tremors, but "the disorder may also cause stiffness or slowing of movement," according to the clinic. It listed other symptoms, including a lack of facial expression, reduced mobility, and speech that "may become soft or slurred."


Because it is progressive in nature, Parkinson's disease symptoms "worsen as [the] condition progresses over time." Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Parkinson's.


Parkinson's Statistics

According to the Parkinson's Foundation in New York City, nearly one million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson's disease and this number is "more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig's disease."


The number of Parkinson's patients in the U.S. is predicted to rise to 1.2 million by 2023, according to the organization. Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's. Globally, more than 10 million people suffer from this neurological condition.


"Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's. Globally, more than 10 million people suffer from this neurological condition."

"Incidence of Parkinson's disease increases with age," reported the organization, noting that only four percent of Parkinson's patients are diagnosed before age 50." Men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson's than women.


Results

A total of 1,348 questionnaires (surveys) were collected and analyzed. Of these survey responses:

  • 51 percent of participants were aware of the legality of medical cannabis in Germany.

  • 28 percent were aware that various consumption avenues ("routes of administration") are available for cannabis, including smoking, vaporization, edibles, sublingual tinctures, transdermal patches, and others).

  • Only nine percent of participants knew the "difference between delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)."

  • 8.4 percent of patients reported Parkinson's-related cannabis use.

  • 40 percent reported that medical cannabis use helped them reduce pain and muscle cramps.

  • 20 percent reported improvement to conditions like "stiffness/akinesia, freezing, tremor, depression, anxiety, and restless legs syndrome."

  • 54 percent reported "improvement of symptoms" when using oral CBD.

  • 68 percent reported improvement of symptoms when inhaling "THC-containing cannabis."

  • 65 percent of non-users of medical cannabis reported an interest in medical cannabis use.

"Overall tolerability was good," reported the research. The study revealed that, in Germany, medical cannabis use for conditions like Parkinson's is "associated with younger age, living in large cities, and better knowledge about the legal and clinical aspects of medical cannabis."


CBD vs. THC for Parkinson's Disease

The study found some differences in efficacy between CBD and THC. "Compared to CBD intake, inhalation of THC was more frequently reported to reduce akinesia and stiffness," observed the scientists.


The study's authors concluded that medical cannabis "is considered as a therapeutic option by many Parkinson's patients."

Conclusions

The study's authors concluded that medical cannabis "is considered as a therapeutic option by many Parkinson's patients." They also recommended further research to better understand the underlying mechanisms that produce positive outcomes for Parkinson's patients.


View the original study.


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