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Posted by on Sep 14, 2018 in Parkinson's Disease | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study evaluated the side effects and impact of medical cannabis on the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). This study concluded that medical cannabis improved PD symptoms and did not cause major side effects.

Some background

PD is a progressive disease caused by loss of brain cells that make dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical substance that sends signals to the cells that help coordinate movements. Current treatments for PD are lacking in improving quality of life for patients. As a result, there is a search for alternative therapies.

Medical cannabis is one such alternative therapy. Few clinical trials have investigated the effects of medical cannabis in PD, with mixed results. Whether medical cannabis improves PD symptoms remains under investigation.

Methods & findings

This study involved interview data from 47 patients with PD. At the time of the study, patients were using medical cannabis for an average of 19.1 months. 91.3% of patients were using medical cannabis in the form of cigarettes.

Overall, 82.2% of patients reported that medical cannabis improved their symptoms. Medical cannabis significantly reduced complaints of falling (from 46.8% to 33.3%). Reduced muscle stiffness (72.7%), tremors (73.2%), and pain (81.4%) were also reported. Improvements in mood (76.1%) and sleep quality (71.7%) were also noted.

4.4% of patients reported no change in symptoms. 13.3% reported that their symptoms worsened. 21.3% of patients reported a need to increase the dose of medical cannabis for better effects. 4.3% of patients stopped treatment due to lack of a desirable effect.

Overall, 59.6% of patients reported side effects. Coughing was the most commonly reported side effect (34.9%). This was associated with smoking of medical cannabis. Anxiety, confusion, and hallucinations (17%) were also reported. 6.38% of patients stopped treatment due to side effects.

The bottom line

This study concluded that medical cannabis improved PD symptoms and did not cause major side effects. The authors suggest that the use of medical cannabis should be limited to patients who failed the best possible medical treatments.

The fine print

This study was retrospective, meaning it looked back in time to analyze data. This study collected data from telephone interviews of patients with PD. 

The patient population in this study was also small. Larger controlled studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of medical cannabis.

What’s next?

Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding the use of medical cannabis for PD symptoms. 

Published By :

Clinical neuropharmacology

Date :

Jun 21, 2018

Original Title :
Medical Cannabis in Parkinson Disease: Real-Life Patients’ Experience.
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