Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
Parkinson’s Disease is an incurable disease which causes the brain to stop producing dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps the body regulate movement. It generally progresses slowly over time and symptoms can take many years to develop. Parkinson’s disease is not fatal in and of itself, but the complications from the disease can cause death.
There are five stages of Parkinson’s Disease, and in some cases it can take up to 20 years for a patient to progress from the first to the last stage.
In the first stage, a person will have mild symptoms, typically tremors and other involuntary movements on one side of the body only, which are not sufficient to interfere with daily life. Often, friends and family will notice changes in facial expression and posture before the patient becomes aware of them.
As the disease progresses, tremors become more pronounced, muscle rigidity becomes severe, and motor skills diminish until the person reaches the final stage, stage 5. This is the most advanced stage. By this time most patients are confined to a wheelchair or may be bedridden. The person may be experiencing hallucinations or delusions, as well, and will need round-the-clock care.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
While Parkinson’s Disease is generally thought of as a disease that only impacts mobility and movement, there are other non-motor symptoms which may occur as well. Some of these can be more debilitating than the motor symptoms.
In addition to the commonly known symptoms, such as tremors, shaking, difficulty walking, stumbling, trouble with balance, mental status changes have been known to occur.
Depression and anxiety, difficulty paying attention, slowing of thought, memory changes, personality changes and dementia, hallucinations and delusions are symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Hypotension (low blood pressure), which causes dizziness and light-headedness, as well as sleep disorders, constipation, fatigue, excessive sweating, sexual problems, increase in dandruff, vision problems, loss of sense of smell, and poor impulse control (leading to such things as binge eating and compulsive gambling) are also possible symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
What Else It Could Be?
There are numerous other “movement related disorders” which may mimic Parkinson’s. Progressive supranuclear palsy, which is a brain disorder affecting walking and balance is one such disorder. This disease does not respond to medical treatment. Encephalitis lethargica (“sleeping sickness”, Equine Encephalomyelitis and Japanese B Encephalitis, which are all infections of the brain, can cause Parkinson’s-like symptoms. Essential tremor, which is characterized by tremors or uncontrolled shaking in the hands and the head, and which is not associated with any other symptoms, may look like Parkinson’s, but Parkinson’s disease medications are not effective in treating essential tremor. In addition, some drugs such as Haldol (used to treat certain psychotic disorders) can cause tremors which look much like Parkinson’s Disease.
How Medical Marijuana Helps Treat Parkinson’s Disease
The human body naturally produces cannabinoids. These naturally occurring chemicals bind to receptors in the brain and impact brain chemicals, including Dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that the body stops producing in Parkinson’s patients. With the use of medical marijuana, dopamine production can be increased and the symptoms of Parkinson’s can be better managed. Though this does not cure the disease, it does improve quality of life for those living with it.
Why Medical Marijuana Treats Parkinson’s Disease Better Than Other Treatments
When medical cannabis binds to the dopamine receptors in the brain, the cannabinoid compounds in the marijuana lessen the effects of the reduced dopamine in the brain. Basically, the compounds in medical marijuana replace the normal compounds that the brain is not producing.
In addition to this benefit, researchers have found that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of medical marijuana may prevent further damage to the neurons which produce dopamine. The slowing of that damage allows the neurons to continue, as best they can, to continue producing Dopamine as long as possible, thereby slowing the rate at which Parkinson’s progresses.
Other treatments for Parkinson’s include dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, and anticholinergics. The side effects of these drugs can range from insomnia and depression to hallucinations and impaired urination. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, has few side effects and is a much more natural treatment option.
How to Get Medical Marijuana to Treat Parkinson’s Disease
It should be noted that in California as well as several other states, the use of medical marijuana for treating Parkinson’s is only approved if a patient displays at least one “associated approved condition” such as extreme malnutrition, severe or chronic pain, seizures, severe nausea or significant muscle spasms.
If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition which is treatable with medical marijuana, you may purchase it to use in a treatment regimen. Parkinson’s Disease has been accepted as a condition which may be treated using this regimen in five states – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Illinois and New York – without the presence of an “associated approved condition”, however in California and other states the approval of medical marijuana for Parkinson’s therapy has a more stringent approval protocol.
The procedure for obtaining medical marijuana once you have been diagnosed with a condition which can be treated with medical marijuana starts with obtaining a state-issued ID card. You can get this by visiting a medical marijuana doctor. This can be done in person or online. A board-certified physician will help you complete your application for the ID card which can then be used to purchase medical marijuana. The application process is fairly simple. A completed application is generally approved within minutes and mailed out the same day. Once you have the ID card, you can buy your medical marijuana from any approved dispensary in the state. You may also grow it in your home for personal use.
If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s Disease and you would like to try medical cannabis as a means of treatment, you may contact our Medical Marijuana Doctors for help. Visit us in San Jose or San Francisco.We are happy to provide you with your treatment options. This process is 100% legal and confidential.