Parkinson's Disease and Cannabis: How it Can Help

Nearly a million people in the United States, both men and women, are living with Parkinson's Disease, a movement disorder that typically progresses over time leading to tremors, rigid muscles, slowed reaction times with poor coordination, and difficulty keeping posture and balance. Everyday activities which were once simple can become very difficult and some progress to the point of losing their functional independence. Chronic pain is a common complication.

While there are many theories about what it's underlying cause is (environmental toxins, inflammation, genetics, nutritional deficiencies, etc), what is known is that nerve cells in a particular area of the brain degenerate (malfunction and die) as a result. This leads to a reduction in Dopamine, the communication chemical that they produce, causing loss of movement control. If other parts of the brain and nervous system are also affected, other symptoms like loss of smell, bowel function, sleep disturbances, mood and memory changes can occur as well. Medications attempt to slow the progression, replace some of the Dopamine, and reduce symptoms. Some are effective but with limitations. There is currently no cure and no great way to stop its progression.

So we know there is damage to neurons. This results in a cycle of inflammation and degeneration. Cannabis can help.

Research has shown that cannabinoid compounds have receptors (binding sites) throughout the brain. Because of this and in the case of Parkinson's, they can bind to specific receptors and help stimulate them in place of Dopamine. There are also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in the plant that help to minimize and repair damage. They play a role in communication signaling along various pathways of the nervous system that allow for nerve and muscle control. Clinically, many people have reported relief from tremors, stiffness, pain, anxiety, and more.

Parkinson's Disease is one of the conditions recognized by New York State as eligible for certification for use of Medical Marijuana. The amount and the ratio of THC to CBD cannabinoids to use is determined by the symptoms you are trying to treat, your medical history and history of cannabis use. Other dosing concerns are safety and potential side effects, including possible loss of balance, due to the psychoactive effects of THC. Many of the reported benefits in Parkinson's Disease symptoms come from the non-psychoactive CBD. It is possible, then, to use a treatment plan that offers relief with little or no high by using a combination of either a balanced ratio of CBD to THC or a higher CBD content. Each person has their own unique dosing needs which should be closely monitored by the certifying physician.

Whether or not you take medication, a treatment plan addressing environmental toxins, nutrients, genetic needs and natural therapies, like the Cannabis plant, is an exciting opportunity for neurological health and optimal function. These may well be your health's missing links.

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