Causes and Treatment of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the second most-common neurological condition in the United States. PD affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a compound in the body that acts as a neurotransmitter, or messenger, between the brain and the body. Dopamine is responsible for telling the brain when to move a part of your body, and when dopamine levels drastically drop, controlling body movements becomes difficult. People with PD experience tremors, rigid limbs and gait or balance problems.
While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, and the cause is unknown. Research has linked PD to several factors, such as exposure to Agent Orange (a chemical used to destroy trees during the Vietnam War), certain chemicals used in farming, as well as metals and chemicals used in factories, like lead. Symptoms generally affect older adults and develop slowly over time. Many suffering from PD have given anecdotal reports on how the use of medical marijuana has reduced tremors, which has acted as the motive for many research studies focusing on the use of medical marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of PD.
Promising Research with Medical Marijuana
Although none of the studies have been conclusive, results have shown promising results. Medical marijuana has been reported to act as a neuroprotectant to the brain, through the use or its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This factor has been shown to reduce PD symptoms, such as uncontrollable movement of the body.
In a study conducted by The Parkinson’s Foundation, in conjunction with Northwestern University, the attitudes of the use of medical marijuana were gauged at 40 Parkinson’s Foundations Centers of Excellence. The study concluded that over 95% of neurologists had patients requesting medical marijuana at some point, with only 10% recommending. The low number of recommending neurologists can be directly linked to the lack of formal training of medical marijuana, as the study further revealed that 93% of polled neurologists would like to see formal training of medical marijuana in medical school.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has funded studies on the use of medical marijuana to treat PD but, as is the case for much medical marijuana research, finds that conducting large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials is the next logical step in the search for conclusive research.
The information provided should not be used as a substitution for physician knowledge. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal marijuana.