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In episode 16, I address the question “Can medical cannabis help with Parkinson’s Disease”. It is a question asked by Karen, in The Medical Pot Guide private Facebook group.
Please remember that I am not providing any kind of medical advice nor encouraging you to break the law.
Before answering this question I want to briefly discuss something that I see all the time, especially on social media… and that is how cannabis is a labeled as a “Cure” for many conditions and diseases. People use that term, “cure” a lot. Cannabis cured my cancer, cannabis cured my arthritis, cannabis cured my chronic pain…. I know that you see it everywhere. Just google cannabis and cure and you will see pages of claims and headlines with the term “cure”.
And yes, while cannabis is freaking amazing when it comes to treating many of these conditions, we have to be very careful when using the word cure because it can be very misleading and confusing to people who are considering cannabis as a treatment option and it is also a major point of contention for the many people out there who have an vested interest in maintaining the current prohibition on cannabis.
In my interview with Cathie Bennett Warner AND The Reverend Doctor Kymron deCesare of Steep Hill Labs, Kym was very quick and emphatic when he pointed out and explained the all-to frequent misuse of the term cure. Listen to Kym’s take on this podcast. It’s very informative.
At its basic definition, most doctors agree that a disease is cured when there is no more trace of the disease AND no more need for treatment. That’s the big caveat. Many people think that because there is no detectable trace of a disease, such as, cancer than they are cured. But the truth is that with cannabis and most diseases, you need to continue taking the treatment, which is cannabis in this example, to prevent the re-occurrence of the disease.
That’s why it is much more accurate to call cannabis a treatment as opposed to a cure. A treatment helps to alleviate the symptoms of a condition. With Cancer, it may shrink the tumor and even make it undetectable, but without continued use of the medication, the tumor will, most likely, return.
Now I am not in any way saying that cannabis does not cure diseases and chronic conditions, I’m just saying that as of now, for the most part, it is being used as a very effective treatment for many conditions. What do you think?
Okay, so let’s now go to our first question from Karen…and she asks, “Can medical cannabis help with Parkinson’s Disease?”
The big problem with answering this question is the problem that is inherent with doing cannabis studies in general, particularly here in the United States so before I try to answer the question regarding Parkinson’s let’s take a look at why it’s so hard to do scientific double-blind studies with cannabis.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or better known as the NIDA, holds all the cards when it comes to cannabis research in the United states. If you want to do any research here, you need to get their blessing and cooperation. The official mission of the NIDA is to stop people from using marijuana…. period. If you want to do a study that will demonstrate how cannabis will turn your brain to mush, you are likely to have their full cooperation. Apply for permission to study the detrimental effects of cannabis on cancer cells and you will in all likelihood get the door slammed in your face. To them, cannabis is a schedule I menace and until that changes, their prime directive is to prevent any studies on any of the potential positive effects…period.
They have all the power. For decades they controlled where you could obtain medical cannabis for any kind of study, which was the University of Mississippi. How they ended up with that honor, I will leave to your imagination.
But, The little bit of good news that came along with the latest slap from the DEA denying the rescheduling of cannabis in August, is that finally, researchers will be able to obtain cannabis from sources other than the government sponsored university of Mississippi BUT, and this is a big but…it will still be just as difficult to get permission from the holy NIDA to do any studies showing the positive side of cannabis so as I see it 2 steps forward and one huge step backward.
Brad Burge, the director of communications for the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Research (MAPS), an organization currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the DEA over the right to establish a medical marijuana farm says “”Marijuana is a linchpin in the War on Drugs, There’s a lot of investment in marijuana remaining illegal.”
For more information on how prohibition has effected our country listen to the podcast where I interview Diane Goldstein of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. She is very articulate and insightful with her observations of the horrible effects of prohibition on our society.
So, the bottom line is that as long as cannabis is a schedule 1 drug you will have great difficulty putting together a study to prove the positive effects of cannabis.
Okay, another problem with doing traditional studies with cannabis is the fact that most traditional clinical studies try to narrow down the variables involved in the study as much as possible. An example of this would be to do a study using only pure THC and it’s effects on cancer cells.
The problem comes down to the fact that it is pretty well known that the beneficial effects of cannabis are greatly enhanced when you use the whole plant or flower, complete with all of the terpenes and cannabinoids. This is called the entourage effect and though it makes for an absolutely amazing plant, it has so many variables in it and this is multiplied by the variables in all the strains and growing conditions of the plant and the existence of pesticides, or the age of the plant and how it was processed. and on and on and on….so how do you control for all of that and conduct a repeatable double-blind study? It’s very difficult and along with the DEA’s steadfast schedule 1 stance you have yourself a classic catch 22.
In spite of all that there has still has been decades of good, valid studies on cannabis from around the world. They are finding out in great depth how it works and there are also many studies looking a specific diseases. So let’s finally address Karen’s question of Can Medical Cannabis help with Parkinson’s disease.
let’s first take a look at what Parkinson’s disease is. Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative disorder that kills the part of your brain that creates dopamine. The whole mechanism and cause is still very much a mystery.
Dopamine, among other things, is a chemical that helps you smoothly move your muscles. So in Parkinson’s, For unknown reasons, dopamine-producing brain cells shut down and deteriorate.
It turns out that the lack of dopamine is the cause of some pretty serious symptoms, such as tremors or shaking of the hands and limbs, muscle rigidity that causes the muscles to be difficult to move, muscle spasms, loss of balance, problems with sleeping and loss of cognitive functions leading to memory loss and dementia. It is a very nasty disease.
And Parkinson’s is a progressive disease causing the patient to have less and less control over the body as time goes on and unfortunately by the time the first symptoms start to appear over 80% of the dopamine has already been lost. The real cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown so the main goal right now is to try to control the symptoms.
So enter cannabis…The use of cannabis to control Parkinson’s isn’t a new idea. It was actually used in tinctures administered by doctors way back in the 19th century. They administered cannabis to their patients to help with the tremors. They were definitely onto something and I wonder where we’d be today if the whole reefer madness government sponsored war on cannabis never happened.
There are several studies that are sited both by the pro and anti cannabis movement . In one famous study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University 22 parkinson’s patients were first tested on a series of physical skills and a questionnaire, then they smoked cannabis, waited 30 minutes and then did the tests and questions again. The results of this study indicated that cannabis could be effective in treating both the physical and psychological symptoms of PD. The patients also showed a significant improvement in pain and sleep scores. Critics of the study says that 22 patients is too small of a sample group and that there was no control group so the study, for the most part, it has been poo-pood by the anti-cannabis establishment.
In another study, published in 2015, researchers from the College of Biomedical and Health Science from Konkuk University, in South Korea, found that the chemicals in cannabis actually enhanced a cells ability to eliminate waste products and toxins. What makes this of particular interest to parkinson’s patients is that it is believed that the buildup of neurotoxins contributes to the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Other studies in animals also show that cannabis can protect brain cells by reducing oxidative stress. So basically, cannabis seems to be able to protect the brain and possibly slow down the progression of Parkinson’s as well as other neurological diseases.
A lot of these studies focused on THC and their effects on the body, but now scientists are also taking a hard look at CBD and its potential for slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s. In another study done in 2015 from Brazil, scientists discovered that CBD prevents brain cell death AND helps in the process of repairing damaged brain cells. So there are actual studies showing some very promising results.
Here is list of Clinical Studies related to Parkinson’s Disease and the use of cannabis
CLICK HERE to go to a study done in 2015 study that show how CBD can help in treating psychosis that is associated with Parkinson’s Disease.
CLICK HERE to go to the 1998 study that demonstrates how THC and CBD are neuroprotective.
CLICK HERE to go to the 2016 study that found that cannabinoids can improve a cells ability to get rid of toxins and wast products.
CLICK HERE to go to the aforementioned study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University on 22 Parkinson’s patients. The results of this study indicated that cannabis could be effective in treating both the physical and psychological symptoms of PD. The patients also showed a significant improvement in pain and sleep scores.
CLICK HERE to go to a Spanish study done in 2011 Complutense University of Madrid where scientist tested the effects of THC on rats with Parkinson’s-like motor-diseases.
CLICK HERE to go to a 2015 study showing that cannabis can reduce the oxidative stress in the brain cells of animals thus protecting them from damage and slowing neuro-degeneration.
CLICK HERE to go to the 2014 California study that compared the mortality rates of patients who used cannabis vs patients that did not after experiencing a brain injury.
CLICK HERE to go to a 2011 review the studies on Parkinson’s Disease which confirms that the endocannabinoid system is affected when dopamine cells died.
Observational or anecdotal studies are usually discredited by many scientists and doctors but that has been where the most compelling evidence is of the potential for cannabis with treating Parkinson’s Disease. Many, many Parkinson’s patients have tried and use cannabis to treat their physical symptoms, such as tremors and spasticity, improve their sleep, and to help cope with the side effects of their other medications to treat Parkinson’s.
Patients have smoked cannabis, used cannabutter, concentrated oils and consumed edibles with varying levels of success.
Here are some testimonials by Parkinson’s Patients who have used cannabis
CLICK HERE to go to an interview with CNN’s Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Michael J Fox
CLICK HERE to watch the video where David Esparza talk about how medical cannabis helps him to cope with his tremors and the side effects of his Parkinson’s Disease medications.
CLICK HERE to watch a video showing how Taylor French is able to walk again due to the medicinal effects of cannabis. This is amazing.
CLICK HERE to watch a video of Elyse Del Francia sharing her story of how she surreptitiously got her husband, who has Parkinson’s Disease, to take cannabis with amazing results. check this out.
Trusted Medical Resources
The United Patients Group (UPG) is an unparalleled resource and trusted leader in Medical Cannabis for physicians, patients and organizations. UPG acts as a virtual hand for patients, by helping them navigate through this ever-changing industry.
Additionally, we offer online CME education courses and one-on-one consulting to physicians and medical institutions. CME courses include: Medical Cannabis and its applications in Fundamentals, Pharmacology, Neurological Disorders, Oncology, Pain Management, Palliative Care, Psychiatry, Safety and more.
Myriams Hope is a private and discreet non-profit Medical Cannabis Collective inspired by the journey of our mother Myriam.
Her battle with cancer was the inspiration for Myriam’s Hope. Our goal is to reach others who are at a loss on where to turn for an alternative yet successful treatment for cancer and other serious diseases.
Myriams Hope provides alternative treatment therapy and is a safe haven for accessing life-saving and miraculous cannabis oil products. Diana Peña and Jeff Caliri are wonderful people who are dedicated to providing lab-tested high-quality cannabis oil medicine for accurate dosages with no unweanted side effects. They are committed to providing excellent customer care. They provide courteous and discreet delivery within their sservice area. They are an excellent resource for patients with limited mobility.
Green Heath Consultants founder Eloise Theisen (MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC) and her team are compassionate, highly knowledgeable healthcare professionals dedicated to ensuring patients receive the qualified counseling they need to safely, effectively use cannabinoids to manage a health condition, treat an illness, and reduce their intake of pharmaceuticals.
Ms. Theisen was a board member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association that helped develop certification classes for health care practitioners and dispensary employees interested in becoming more knowledgable and credentialed in cannabis / cannabinoid therapy.
I want to stress how very important it is that you don’t try any kind of c annabis to treat your own Parkinson’s or really any chronic condition without first checking with your doctor. Cannabis can potentially interact with many pharmaceutical medications causing adverse side effects and possibly blocking the effects of your prescription medication with disastrous results.
Also, with parkinson’s patients, cannabis may have a negative effect on balance, cause dizziness, and effect mood.
So It really is very important to do it while under the active care of your doctor. If your doctor isn’t knowledgeable as to the use of cannabis, than there are many excellent doctors and other medical resources out there that are and worth talking to. They will work in conjunction with your regular doctor to make sure that you are using cannabis safely and effectively.