Despite all the advances and breakthroughs in medicines, some diseases still remain mysterious to us. One of these is Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative disorder affecting the nervous system that usually affects the elderly. It occurs when brain cells that produce dopamine shut down, and no one knows why this happens.Without dopamine, the body begins to manifest the symptom many of which make it difficult to live a normal life; these symptoms include constant tremors, imprecise movements, dementia, memory loss, and muscular rigidity.
It’s estimated that there are over 10 million people around the world who live with Parkinson’s Disease, and 1 million Americans who have the disease. It can’t be cured although medications are prescribed to help slow down the progression of the disease or in some cases surgery may be needed, oftentimes costing around $100,000 per year for each patient. Some patients are asked to undergo lifestyle changes and engage in more exercise. Medications prescribed for patients of Parkinson’s Disease have numerous side effects including nausea, lightheadedness, insomnia, diarrhea, hallucinations, confusion, impaired memory, and others.
However, more people are discovering the benefits of cannabis in managing the symptoms of Parkinsons’ Disease and it’s no secret.
In fact, the indica strain in particular was prescribed by doctors back in the 19th century for their patients who had Parkinson’s disease. This was during a time when scientists still didn’t know much about dopamine or its significance to motor functioning, yet they were already giving cannabis tinctures to their patients because it was effective in halting the uncomfortable trembling that most patients experience.
Cannabis Slows Down Progression Of Parkinson’s Disease
Cannabis use has been associated with effectively slowing down the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, giving patients access to a better quality of life even if they have a condition that can’t be cured. The reason why cannabis is beneficial for Parkinson’s Disease is because of the endocannabinoid system, which is the body’s largest cell receptor. Using cannabis engages cannabinoids in the endocannabinoid system which then results in a multitude of positive effects.
In 2010, researchers discovered that the endocannabinoid system was affected when there was a decrease of dopamine cells as a result of Parkinson’s Disease. The body produces dopamine near the brain center, and much of the cannabinoid receptors are located in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that is responsible for mobility and is compromised when a person has Parkinson’s Disease. CB1 receptors are extremely abundant in this part of the brain. This receptor is where THC latches to in the brain, but the human body also produces natural chemicals which are the endocannabinoids, that bind with the CB1. Research showsthat the volume of endocannabinoids increase significantly when a person doesn’t have the ability to move muscles anymore. These studies confirm that cannabis plays an important role as treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, because it is connected with the endocannabinoid system.
A 2011 study in Spain further confirms this. The study, conducted by scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid, analyzed the effects of THC on mice and rats that had symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease. They found that the presence of THC was effective in preventing brain cell death in rodents and also showed to reduce symptoms of the disease.
Neuroprotective Properties Of Cannabis
We already know that cannabis has neuroprotective properties, which means that it can help protect the brain. Research in 1998 confirms this as a study found that both CBD and THC have neuroprotective properties. The cannabinoids are actually powerful antioxidants and protect neurons in the brain from aging and damage. The presence of these cannabinoids also mean that cannabis has the potential to slow down the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
What’s more is that in 2015, a study discovered that these cannabinoids help brain cells eliminate toxins. This is critical for those who have Parkinson’s Disease because the buildup of toxins can actually cause Parkinson’s and speed up the symptoms. When you consume cannabis, the cannabinoids improve the function of the mitochondria which keeps the cells healthy.
Treatment Without The High
Many studies have already analyzed the effect of THC on Parkinsons’ Disease but what seems to be more promising is CBD. Scientists think that CBD may be more powerful in treating Parkinson’s Disease, even though both THC and CBD are beneficial for their neuroprotective properties.
Some patients suffer from psychosis, and studies show that CBD is useful in addressing this problem. Another study from 2015 also showed that CBD was beneficial in getting rid of a neurotoxin that scientists think contribute to Parkinson’s. They also discovered that CBD increased neuritogenesis, which is the process of repairing damaged cells in the brain.
Cannabis use has greatly helped improve the quality of life for many people who have Parkinson’s Disease. Aside from easing symptoms, cannabis use also helps address the mental issues and emotional pain that those with the disease tend to suffer from. Those who want to benefit from the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the high can also opt to use CBD-based products.