Medical cannabis research is at an all-time high. Many studies have shown promising results for a number of diseases and conditions. Research into medical cannabis use to treat Parkinson’s disease continued. A recent survey shows that patients cite cannabis as an effective way to treat symptoms of the condition.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Parkinson, is believed to be the largest study analyzing the patient’s views on cannabis therapy for Parkinson’s. The participants were recruited from all over Germany via the members’ journal of the German Parkinson’s Association.
Medical cannabis as a therapy option for Parkinson’s disease was approved in Germany in 2017. The medicine can be prescribed to patients with severe symptoms associated with the condition, when other treatment options have failed or have caused too many discomfort / side effects.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease affects certain nerve cells in the brain, causing them to break down or die. The loss of neurons that produce dopamine is the cause of many symptoms of the disease. Symptoms of Parkinson’s can include tremors, stiffness, and loss of movement.
Other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s can include dementia, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and depression.
Studies suggest that the physical manifestations of Parkinson’s are indeed the late stages of a developing multi-system disorder. The National Parkinson’s Foundation suggests that Parkinson’s (PD) motor symptoms do not manifest themselves until the majority of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells are already damaged.
Therefore, the earlier PD is diagnosed, the higher the likelihood that the disease will slow down.
The patient survey
The researchers designed a questionnaire that was to be distributed from March 2019 through issues of the journal of the German Parkinson’s Association. The questionnaire was also distributed to patients who visited their movement disorders clinic from March 4 to April 21, 2019.
A total of 1348 responses were analyzed for use in the study. The mean age of all participants was 71.6 years and the mean duration of illness was 11.6 years. Of the respondents, 15% said they were cannabis users. Of cannabis users, 13.9% recorded regular use, 32.2% were occasional users, and 42.6% had tried once.
Overall, 54% of self-reported cannabis users indicated a clinical benefit for medicinal cannabis use. This was higher on average for frequent users (79%) than casual (67%) and one-time users (25%).
In addition, more than half of those who had consumed cannabis reported that it was more effective than levodopa (Parkinson’s medication) and dopamine agonists at improving symptoms associated with the disease. Another 23% found medicinal cannabis to be as effective as alternative treatments.