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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes beginning with a barely noticeable hand tremor.

DALL·E 2024-02-01 14.51.13 - Create an image of a pair of elderly hands with visible veins

Research Summary:

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder where dopamine neurons in the midbrain's movement areas are lost, leading to symptoms like tremors, stiffness, and slowed movement. As it advances, arm swinging may cease, facial expression may decrease, and speech may become soft or slurred. Sleep problems, digestive issues, and emotional difficulties often occur. Standard treatments aim to boost brain dopamine levels but can result in side effects like involuntary muscle movements and riskier behavior. As the disease progresses, the effectiveness of these drugs diminishes, making it challenging to find the right balance between motor control and overstimulation. In some cases, surgery to implant microelectrodes is suggested. The cause of Parkinson's is largely unknown, but a few cases are linked to specific genetic variations and exposure to certain toxins can increase the risk. Research also suggests that gut dysbiosis may play a role, indicating a possible connection between gut microbiome dysfunction and the development of Parkinson's.

Cannabis has been historically used to alleviate Parkinson's tremors, as documented by neurologist Sir William Gowers in 1888. In a 1986 clinical study, CBD showed significant improvements in movement disorders within six weeks for all five patients, using dosages ranging from 100 to 600 mg per day. To witness a powerful modern example of cannabis's effectiveness in reducing motor tremors, you can watch a video of a Parkinson's patient self-medicating for a life-changing demonstration.

A recent survey by the Michael J Fox Foundation summarized the clinical advice aptly,

  • More than half of the respondents using cannabis reported benefits for sleep, mood, and pain

  • Some decreased their use of other prescriptions

  • The typical side effects of dizziness, cognitive changes, and dry mouth were common

  • Most used one oral dose per day

  • Over 30% did not discuss their cannabis use with their physician

(do not be in that last group. If you use cannabis, tell your doctor. Both because they need to know and because you can teach them that this is a medicine they can be recommending to other patients.)

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