Article by Freedom Chevalier, Lift News
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system. It primarily affects motor function and intentional muscle movement. One out of every 500 Canadians is affected by Parkinson’s, with roughly 6,600 new cases diagnosed annually. And while the exact cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown, there is hope for better treatment.
Recently, the European Journal of Pain published a study on the effect of cannabis on motor and nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Conducted by the Rabin Medical Center and Tel Aviv University, the report found that pain symptoms and motor control improved in the 30 minutes following cannabis exposure. The March 2017 issue of Clinical Neuropharmacology reported similar findings, including “significant improvement” in tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement (bradykinsea), plus quality and duration of sleep and improved pain scores following cannabis treatment.
The Parkinson’s-dopamine connection
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical in the brain responsible for transmitting signals between neurons (nerve cells) and the brain. It also plays a vital role in smooth muscle movement. With Parkinson’s disease, dopamine-producing brain cells begin to deteriorate and eventually shut down. As dopamine levels drop, the body responds with symptoms that include:
- Hand tremors
- Uncontrollable shaking of limbs
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle rigidity
- Decreased ability to execute fine muscle movement
- Inability to sleep
- Decreased quality of sleep
- Loss of balance
- Diminished cognitive function
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
Minor symptoms, such as a fingers twitching uncontrollably, are often the first noticeable signs of the disease. But as Parkinson’s progresses, the tell-tale tremors become more prominent and disruptive to daily life. Without healthy, functioning neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, the brain can’t ‘tell’ the body how to move. Patients lose more and more control over their movements as muscles lock, tremor, or spasm violently.
Recent research has found that using cannabis increases dopamine levels in the body, which thereby eases muscle tremors. However, cannabis prescriptions for tremors is nothing new, with cases of cannabinoids being prescribed for parkinsonian symptoms reported as far back as the late 1800s.