After several people with Parkinson’s disease posted commentaries online that the use of marijuana improved their tremors, researchers designed clinical studies to find out if cannaboids (the drug molecules in marijuana) have a protective effect on the dopaminergic cells of the human brain.
Marijuana has approximately 100 neuroactive chemicals that interact with:
- Type 1 (CB1) receptors located in the Central Nervous system.
- Type 2 (CB2) receptors located in the Peripheral Nervous system.
People with Parkinson’s disease have less CB1 receptors than those without. Cannabis has agonists of the receptors that stimulate the same function as the natural compound (dopamine) but also has antagonists that block it. As medical marijuana preparations may contain both agonists and antagonists, the design and implementation of clinical research trials is cumbersome.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) is the primary component of marijuana but it has a long latency period, for which it cannot be easily measured for dosage; clinical studies give it in the form of capsule, nasal spray or liquid. Most studies had a low number of patients and did not implement a double blind set-up, which limited their scientific certitude.
Cannabidiol (CBD), its primary non-psychoactive element, has been studied in the control of non-motor symptoms in PD like psychotic episodes. After taking 400 mg/day of oral cannabidiol for a month, the participants had fewer psychotic symptoms without cognitive or motor side effects. In another study involving patients with disturbances of REM sleep—crying, laughing, cursing and yelling in the middle of the night—the daily dosage of 75 to 300 mgrs of Cannabidiol for at least six weeks reduced the symptoms.CBD can be consumed as cannabis oils like they do for pediatric patients; a dollop of oil is placed in a capsule under the tongue or mixed with foodstuff.
The research on marijuana use in neurological diseases is in its early stages but, as many more U.S.A. state legislatures approve its medical use, there will be a new civic impetus for their completion.
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