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Cannabis Has Positive Impacts on People with Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, Study Shows

Findings in a new study suggest cannabis is beneficial for mood, memory, fatigue, and obesity status in those with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers from Colorado State University have found evidence that cannabis use could have positive effects in patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. A new study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine suggests that cannabis use can improve symptoms associated with the two neurological diseases.

“Cannabis may have positive impacts on mood, memory, fatigue, and obesity status in people with [Parkinson’s disease] and [multiple sclerosis],” the researchers conclude.

Affecting more than 10 million people worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that causes the death of dopamine-producing brain cells and adversely impacts movement. Multiple sclerosis, also a disabling disease of the central nervous system that causes motor problems, affects an estimated 2.5 million people around the world.

Multiple sclerosis, unlike Parkinson’s disease, is an autoimmune disorder, but there is evidence indicating that the death of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease could in some cases by caused by an autoimmune response. Both disorders are currently deemed incurable and today’s treatment efforts focus on managing their respective symptoms.

Previous studies have found evidence indicating cannabis and its cannabinoids are beneficial for improving symptoms and inhibiting the progression of each of the disorders. In this latest study, current cannabis users reported high efficacy of cannabis, scoring it on average 6.4 on a scale from 0 to 7. The patients that actively use cannabis reported lower levels of neurological dysfunction, and 59 percent reported being able to reduce their prescription medication intake since starting cannabis treatments.

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The study also found that Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis patients that use actively cannabis reported lower levels of disability, specifically in the areas of mood, memory, and fatigue. Current cannabis users were also found to be younger and less likely to be obese.

The study did find evidence that cannabis may negatively affect balance in those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Colorado State researchers utilized an anonymous web-based survey to compare self-reported assessments of neurological disability between current cannabis users and non-users. The questionnaire collected demographic and cannabis consumption behavior data, and inquired about participants’ neurological function, fatigue, balance, and physical activation participation. Chi-square tests and analysis of variance were then used to analyze the data.

Of the 595 study participants, 76 percent were Parkinson’s disease patients and 24 percent were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Over 40 percent of all respondents reportedly are currently using cannabis for treatment purposes.

The researchers urged for clinical and longitudinal studies to more accurately determine whether the positive associations are causal and to further examine the benefits and effects of long-term cannabis use.

You can access the study, “Cannabis use in people with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis: A web-based investigation,” at ScienceDirect.

Keep up with the latest cannabis-related studies through our news feed. Learn more about previous research findings on the effects of cannabis on Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis by visiting our education page.