Florida’s Parkinson’s Disease Patients Turn to Medical Marijuana For Relief
Can Parkinson’s disease patients benefit from a medical marijuana regimen? “In addition to symptom management,” states one report, “cannabis may also slow down the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability…” In this article, we will discuss the utilization of medical marijuana in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Florida is one of more than 30 U.S. states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurological and seizure disorders. Parkinson’s disease is one of the most prevalent conditions for which patients are obtaining a Florida medical marijuana card.
Sadly, more than 64,000 individuals in the state are afflicted with this insidious, debilitating condition. This disturbing trend is not surprising as Florida has a large senior population and Parkinson’s patients statistically tend to skew on the elderly side.
The anecdotal evidence and the data gathered from numerous patients and clinical studies is encouraging for thousands of Parkinson’s patients considering treating their condition with medical marijuana. The evidence strongly suggests that for some patients medical marijuana is an effective and safe herbal remedy for Parkinson’s disease.
Not surprisingly, since the advent of Florida’s medical marijuana program, thousands of Parkinson’s patients are finding some measure of relief. Some patients attribute a significant slowing of the disease’s progression to the use of cannabis products such as cannabis-infused edibles, extracts and tinctures, pills, and capsules, and dried cannabis flower.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable condition and the second-most-common neurological disease on Earth. This ruthless disorder generally occurs in older individuals. In some cases, the disease has a genetic component and can be passed on from generation to generation.
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are involuntary tremors, severe postural instability, and extreme rigidity.
Traditional medications used to treat Parkinson’s address the existing symptoms offering only temporary relief. The standard therapies also do nothing to retard the rampant progression of the disease. They also produce several bothersome side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and slurred speech, and can, on occasion, have lethal consequences.
Can medical marijuana help treat Parkinson’s symptoms?
Marijuana refers specifically to the resinous buds of the cannabis plant. Cannabis flowers produce a class of active compounds called cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Both have medicinal properties. While THC produces intoxicating effects, CBD does not. Both are completely non-toxic and non-addictive when used properly and not abused.
One of the defining symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is chronic inflammation. In multiple studies, the cannabinoids produced in medical marijuana have exhibited the ability to modulate the body’s inflammatory response. This in turn slows the progression of the disease. Medical marijuana might even delay or prevent the onset of neurodegenerative processes.
Medical marijuana is also known to contain powerful, neural-protective antioxidant properties thought to combat oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the main cause of neuron damage and cell death which in turn might trigger the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
Medical cannabis is also known to mitigate the depression and fatigue often associated with Parkinson’s disease as well as to reduce spasticity and rigidity.
Is there evidence for the effectiveness of medical marijuana in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease?
Scientific studies have produced vast amounts of clinical data regarding medical marijuana’s efficacy in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Several highly-regarded medical journals have published reports on medical marijuana’s potential in treating neurological disorders.
The British Journal of Pharmacology made this declaration in March of 2014:
“A common issue with neurological disorders is the chronic inflammation of neurons. Both THC and CBD have been shown to produce strong anti-inflammatory responses that may trigger the onset of neurological diseases. Furthermore, THC and CBD have antioxidant properties and are known to protect against the degeneration of neurons and nerve cells in the brain.”
In a 2012 review, Dr. Andras Bilkey-Gorzo reported:
“At first sight, it is striking that cannabinoid, substances known to impair cognitive functions, could be beneficial in neurodegenerative cognitive disorders. However, [we found] cannabinoid receptor activation could reduce oxidative stress and excitotoxicity, suppress neuroinflammatory processes, and thus alleviate the symptoms of neurodegenerative motor and cognitive diseases.”
And in August 2015, the American Academy of Neurology reviewed a randomized controlled trial. Researchers reported that cannabis has the potential for alleviating the spasticity and pain associated with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
How is medical marijuana used to treat Parkinson’s disease?
There are a variety of medical marijuana strains that contain varying ratios of THC to CBD. Cultivars have been bred to treat particular symptoms experienced by individual patients. There are also a variety of delivery methods including smoking and vaping dried flowers, tinctures and oils, cannabis-infused edibles, pills and capsules, topicals and patches, and more.
Some patients don’t want the intoxication that comes with a high-THC marijuana strain. In this case, a high-CBD, low-THC strain may be the answer. Moreover, hemp CBD flower which contains negligible levels of THC is legal and can be purchased online and in local shops without a medical marijuana card.
Patients and their caregivers should discuss product options, delivery methods, and dosage with their marijuana doctor and their local dispensary to determine their ideal protocol.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Florida
In order to obtain a Florida medical marijuana card and gain access to Florida dispensaries, patients will first need to visit a state-certified medical marijuana doctor. After a patient is approved by the physician they need to register with the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry (FMMU) in order to receive a card.
Patients can buy medical marijuana in Florida in person at a dispensary or order by phone or internet for curbside pickup or home delivery.
Find a Florida medical marijuana doctor in your area
List of Florida medical marijuana dispensaries
Buy CBD online
Videos about medical marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease
MMJ Patient Registration Form
Sources and additional reading
- Parkinson’s Foundation Florida Chapter – Home
- Parkinson’s Patients Report Using Cannabis Largely for Symptom…
- Parkinson’s Foundation Florida
- Welcome to the South Florida Chapter
- Older Parkinson’s Patients Can Benefit from Cannabis, Study Finds
- Weeding Through the Haze: A Survey on Cannabis Use Among People with Parkinson’s Disease
- Marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease?
- Medical Marijuana for Parkinson’s Disease
- Ask the MD: Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease
- Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s disease | APDA