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Over Half of Cannabis Users with Parkinson's Report Benefits

Parkinson's and Marijuana

An eye-opening survey in Germany has found that over half of people with Parkinson's who have been using cannabis products for treating their symptoms are reporting beneficial clinical effects.

With medicinal cannabis now legalized in many parts of the world, there is growing interest in its use to alleviate symptoms of many illnesses including Parkinson's.

Cannabis products containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound of cannabis) can be prescribed in Germany when previous therapies are unsuccessful or not tolerated, and where cannabis can be expected to relieve disabling symptoms.

Of the 8% of German patients who are exercising their right to access cannabis products, 54% have reported beneficial effects.

"PD patients fulfilling these criteria are entitled to be prescribed medical cannabis, but there are few data about which type of cannabinoid and which route of administration might be promising for which PD patient and which symptoms."

Over 40% of users reported that it helped manage pain and muscle cramps, and more than 20% of users reported a reduction of stiffness, freezing, tremor, depression, anxiety, and restless legs.

Patients reported that inhaled cannabis products containing THC were more efficient in treating stiffness than oral products containing CBD but were slightly less well tolerated.

Interestingly, a whopping 65% of non-users of cannabis in the study expressed an interest in using medicinal cannabis, but lack of knowledge and fear of side effects were reported as main reasons for not trying it.

The superstar Parkinson's researcher Dr. Bastiaan Bloem commented on the study: "These findings are interesting in that they confirm a widespread interest among patients in the use of cannabis as a potential treatment for people living with PD. It is important to emphasize that more research is needed before cannabis can be prescribed as a treatment, and that guidelines currently recommend against the use of cannabis, even as self-medication, because the efficacy is not well established, and because there are safety concerns (adverse effects include among others sedation and hallucinations)."

Findings of U.S.-based Study

The U.S.-based Parkinson’s Foundation recently announced the results of a survey concerning the use of medical cannabis in people with Parkinson’s in the U.S. The survey is one of the most comprehensive done to date, receiving 1,064 responses from people with the condition.

The survey asked questions about cannabis usage ― from symptom control to motive for use and side effects ― and questions for those who do not use cannabis and why. 

25% of survey respondents used cannabis within the previous six months and less than 13% of that group reported negative side effects from cannabis use. Overall, 89% said cannabis was not a replacement for their PD prescription medication.

Here is a breakdown of the key results from the survey:

Parkinson's Foundation Cannabis Survey

Source: Yenilmez, Ferhat, et al. "Cannabis in Parkinson’s Disease: The Patients’ View." Journal of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's Foundation, "Weeding Through the Haze: People with Parkinson’s Share Medical Cannabis Experiences"

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