Cannabis as a Natural Remedy for Parkinson's Disease

Find more about the positive effects of cannabis on the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurological disorder that impacts a person's motor function significantly. It is characterized by a range of symptoms that include unintended or uncontrollable movements, shaking, stiffness, and difficulties with balance and coordination. Parkinson's disease is closely associated with tremors, which are involuntary and rhythmic shaking movements that often begin in the hands or fingers and can gradually spread to other parts of the body.

Stiffness, another prominent symptom of Parkinson's disease, can make simple tasks challenging. Stiffness leads to a reduced range of motion and a feeling of rigidity in the muscles. People with Parkinson’s disease may also find balance and coordination difficult. Individuals may experience problems with posture, gait, and maintaining their equilibrium, making them more prone to falls and injuries.

Bradykinesia, the slowed movement of the body, reduces the everyday motor abilities of someone with Parkinson’s. This reduces reaction times and reflexes, meaning all subconscious movements are slower, elevating patient risk. Although Parkinson's disease primarily affects motor function, it can also involve non-motor symptoms such as cognitive changes, mood fluctuations and sleep disturbances. It can affect speech and the ability to write too. These symptoms can vary in severity and progression from person to person.

The standard approach to medicating Parkinson's disease has its limitations, particularly with the use of medications like L-DOPA. While L-DOPA is a commonly prescribed treatment for Parkinson's, it can lead to some adverse effects. One of the significant concerns of L-DOPA usage is the development of abnormal movements, such as tardive dyskinesia, which affects the face, and chorea, which affects the limbs. Additionally, L-DOPA can cause abnormal muscle tone known as dystonia, further exacerbating motor difficulties.

Amantadine, another medication used to treat Parkinson’s Disease, has shown improvements in symptoms for only about 50% of patients using it. The precise mechanism of action of Amantadine in Parkinson's disease is still unclear. Despite its potential benefits, Amantadine also comes with its own set of side effects. Some individuals may experience edema (fluid retention), confusion, and a skin condition called livedo reticularis, characterized by a net-like pattern of skin.

Bromocriptine and Pergolide are commonly prescribed for symptomatic relief too; however, they can cause adverse side effects such as drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, dizziness, and a feeling of faintness. Ergot alkaloids, which activate dopamine receptors and enhance dopamine efficacy, may lead to side effects such as confusion, delirium, psychosis, and more. Additionally, drugs like Selegiline, Propranolol, and anticholinergics are used either alone or in combination with L-DOPA, but their effectiveness is limited.

There is a pressing need for medication without adverse side effects to help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Fortunately, Cannabidiol (CBD) shows immense promise. GPR6 is a G-protein-coupled receptor that is greatly impacted by Parkinson’s disease. CBD acts as an inverse agonist, binding itself to GPR6 receptors and slowing down its activity. With GPR6 activity slowed down, the body produces more dopamine, bettering the imbalance between dopamine and acetylcholine. It helps offset the dyskinesias caused by L-DOPA as well, which suggests CBD could be used in conjunction with standard line of treatment as an adjunct therapy for Parkinson’s. The added advantage is that CBD comes with little to no side effects or long-term concerns.

Let’s look at the Ayurvedic perspective in brief. CBD is thought to increase the Chala property of the Vata dosha. Chala refers to movement. As the Chala property increases, it enters the mansa dhatu (muscle tissue) and meda dhatu (fat tissue), increasing overall motor functioning and movement. To put it in simpler terms, the potency of Vijaya (full-spectrum cannabis extract) pacifies the Vata and reduces overall tremors.

In conclusion, medications commonly used for Parkinson's disease, such as L-DOPA and other drugs like bromocriptine, pergolide, ergot alkaloids, selegiline, propranolol, and anticholinergics, have limitations and can cause various adverse effects. CBD has minimal side effects and can help alleviate the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's disease without the trade-offs associated with current medications. Further research and clinical studies are needed to explore the full potential of CBD in treating Parkinson's disease and to determine optimal dosage and long-term effects.