Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects the motor system of the central nervous system. When certain nerve cells within the brain degenerate, they can no longer send sufficient dopamine throughout the brain which in turn leads to motor control issues ranging from dyskinesia (uncontrolled movements) to brady kinesia (frozen movements or inability to consciously move). Other symptoms may arise as well: tremors (in the arms, hands, or legs), stiff muscles, slow movement, problems with balance and walking, dementia and confusion, depression and general cognitive decline.
Cannabis has long shown to have neuroprotective and antioxidant properties and since Parkinson’s is thought to be caused by a buildup of neurotoxins that the body cannot eliminate, cannabis has shown great promise as a treatment for this neurodegenerative disease. Various studies have shown that THC inhibits the death of brain cells in neurodegenerative disorders, and along with CBD’s neuroprotective factors and ability to aid neurological regeneration, cannabis has the potential to be an effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
Treatment with cannabis provides relief from pain and tremors, as well as improving mobility, sleep, and mood. The cannabinoids found within cannabis, activate the receptors within our own endocannabinoid system, releasing analgesic, muscle-relaxing, and various other therapeutic properties.
The most effective cannabis treatment for Parkinson’s disease utilizes both CBD and THC. These and other cannabinoids work very well in tandem through the entourage effect.
Treating Parkinson’s with cannabis will depend on the severity of symptoms as well as individual preference. Mild symptoms can be managed by smoking, vaping, tinctures, or evening teas and edibles that have a moderate dose of CBD and a lower dose of THC. For those who wish to avoid the temporary psychoactive effects of THC, pure CBD products can be used or a combination of both, i.e CBD during the day and THC at night. As the severity of symptoms progresses, individuals may find that strains or products such as oils containing higher percentages of THC will help keep their symptoms at bay. Parkinson’s is a complex disorder, and studies have found that treatment with cannabis will vary between individuals; there is no one size fits all. Individual patients will have to try different ratios of CBD to THC and different dosage schedules to find what works for them. A good starting point is something that is 1:1 or 2:1 CBD:THC at a low to moderate dose, then adjust from there.