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Medical Marijuana and Parkinson's Disease

What Is Parkinson's Disease?

 

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, Parkinson’s tends to slowly worsen over time. In a healthy brain, brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for relaying messages within the brain that control movement in the human body. When these cells are damaged, the signs of Parkinson’s Disease begin to show.
Typically, the signs of Parkinson’s appear slowly, as a subtle tremor in just one hand, for example. Although most people associate Parkinson’s Disease with jerking or shaking movements, the disease can also produce a freezing of parts of the body. For instance, a person suffering from Parkinson’s may appear to have no facial expression or may appear to have an abnormally stiff gait when he walks. Noticeable symptoms of the disease general do not appear until around the age of 50, or later. Along with shaking, tremors or “freezing” symptoms, a person suffering from Parkinson’s Disease may also suffer from other symptoms including constipation, difficulty swallowing, blinking, drooling and muscle aches and pains. A number of movement problems are also associated with the disease, as are rigid or stiff muscles, low blood pressure, stooped position, and slowed, or monotone speech. Along with the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, the disease also may cause anxiety, depression, and memory loss, as well as confusion, stress and tension.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease at this time. Conventional treatment is aimed at treating the symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible. Medication is used to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain as well as to treat the movement problems associated with the disease. Antidepressants are also commonly prescribed. Brain surgery to implant an electrode deep within the brain where movement is controlled is also an option for advanced Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, Parkinson’s tends to slowly worsen over time. In a healthy brain, brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for relaying messages within the brain that control movement in the human body. When these cells are damaged, the signs of Parkinson’s Disease begin to show.

Typically, the signs of Parkinson’s appear slowly, as a subtle tremor in just one hand, for example. Although most people associate Parkinson’s Disease with jerking or shaking movements, the disease can also produce a freezing of parts of the body. For instance, a person suffering from Parkinson’s may appear to have no facial expression or may appear to have an abnormally stiff gait when he walks. Noticeable symptoms of the disease general do not appear until around the age of 50, or later. Along with shaking, tremors or “freezing” symptoms, a person suffering from Parkinson’s Disease may also suffer from other symptoms including constipation, difficulty swallowing, blinking, drooling and muscle aches and pains. A number of movement problems are also associated with the disease, as are rigid or stiff muscles, low blood pressure, stooped position, and slowed, or monotone speech. Along with the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, the disease also may cause anxiety, depression, and memory loss, as well as confusion, stress and tension.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease at this time. Conventional treatment is aimed at treating the symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible. Medication is used to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain as well as to treat the movement problems associated with the disease. Antidepressants are also commonly prescribed. Brain surgery to implant an electrode deep within the brain where movement is controlled is also an option for advanced Parkinson’s Disease.

Medical Marijuana and Parkinson's Disease

Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease
Marijuana may be an excellent alternative to, or addition to, the medication regime of someone suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, many of the conventional medications prescribed for a Parkinson’s patient also come with significant, negative side effects that are not present in medical marijuana. Medical marijuana offers a combination of anti-anxiety, anti-oxidant and pain relief all in one medication.
Medical Marijuana and Parkinson‘s Disease: Clinical Evidence
Among the many studies and academic papers relating to the benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease sufferers, Sevcik J, Masek K, of the Institute of Pharmacology,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague had this to say “Cannabinoids might alleviate some parkinsonian symptoms by their remarkable receptor-mediated modulatory action in the basal ganglia output nuclei. Moreover, it was recently observed that some cannabinoids are potent antioxidants that can protect neurons from death even without cannabinoid receptor activation. It seems that cannabinoids could delay or even stop progressive degeneration of brain dopaminergic systems, a process for which there is presently no prevention. In combination with currently used drugs, cannabinoids might represent, qualitatively, a new approach to the treatment of PD, making it more effective.”
A recent study, looked at the potential benefits of medical marijuana for those suffering from Huntington’s Disease, a disease that produces symptoms similar to those found in a patient with Parkinson’s Disease. In this animal study, a mutant strain of hamsters that exhibited the symptoms of dystonia, a sub-group of disorders that share similar characteristics to Huntington’s Disease, were given a synthetic cannabinoid that activates the same cellular receptors as THC. The hamsters showed symptoms of dystonia that included rapid jerky movements or slow, repetitive movements, similar to Huntington’s Disease sufferers. The hamsters showed a marked reduction of symptoms when under the influence of the synthetic cannabinoid, indicating that medical marijuana may be beneficial to those with Huntington’s Disease. Because the symptoms of the two diseases are similar, Parkinson’s sufferers may also benefit from the use of medical marijuana.
Finally, numerous studies have also supported the long held belief that medical marijuana can reduce anxiety and stress levels in some patients. Although some patients actually report an increase in anxiety when under the influence of marijuana, many report a marked decrease. The reason for the disparity in results may be the result of individual body chemistry.

Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease

Marijuana may be an excellent alternative to, or addition to, the medication regime of someone suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, many of the conventional medications prescribed for a Parkinson’s patient also come with significant, negative side effects that are not present in medical marijuana. Medical marijuana offers a combination of anti-anxiety, anti-oxidant and pain relief all in one medication.

Medical Marijuana and Parkinson‘s Disease: Clinical Evidence

Among the many studies and academic papers relating to the benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease sufferers, Sevcik J, Masek K, of the Institute of Pharmacology,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague had this to say “Cannabinoids might alleviate some parkinsonian symptoms by their remarkable receptor-mediated modulatory action in the basal ganglia output nuclei. Moreover, it was recently observed that some cannabinoids are potent antioxidants that can protect neurons from death even without cannabinoid receptor activation. It seems that cannabinoids could delay or even stop progressive degeneration of brain dopaminergic systems, a process for which there is presently no prevention. In combination with currently used drugs, cannabinoids might represent, qualitatively, a new approach to the treatment of PD, making it more effective.”

A recent study, looked at the potential benefits of medical marijuana for those suffering from Huntington’s Disease, a disease that produces symptoms similar to those found in a patient with Parkinson’s Disease. In this animal study, a mutant strain of hamsters that exhibited the symptoms of dystonia, a sub-group of disorders that share similar characteristics to Huntington’s Disease, were given a synthetic cannabinoid that activates the same cellular receptors as THC. The hamsters showed symptoms of dystonia that included rapid jerky movements or slow, repetitive movements, similar to Huntington’s Disease sufferers. The hamsters showed a marked reduction of symptoms when under the influence of the synthetic cannabinoid, indicating that medical marijuana may be beneficial to those with Huntington’s Disease. Because the symptoms of the two diseases are similar, Parkinson’s sufferers may also benefit from the use of medical marijuana.
Finally, numerous studies have also supported the long held belief that medical marijuana can reduce anxiety and stress levels in some patients. Although some patients actually report an increase in anxiety when under the influence of marijuana, many report a marked decrease. The reason for the disparity in results may be the result of individual body chemistry.

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