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Parkinson’s Disease Patients Find Cannabis Among Most Beneficial of All Alternative Treatments, Study Finds

Parkinson disease patients ranked cannabis as one of the most effective for symptom relief of all complementary and alternative medicines in a recent study.

Cannabis is the most effective of all the complementary and alternative medicine modalities (CAM) typically used by patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the death of nerve cells in the brain. There is no cure for the disease, which causes tremors, bradykinesia, stiffness, pain, sleep problems, and depression. Previous investigations into cannabis for patients with Parkinson’s disease have reported improvements in tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, and pain.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado Denver, and University of Northern Colorado investigated the responses of self-administered surveys completed by 207 Parkinson’s disease patients between 2012 and 2013. The patients were asked anonymously about whether they incorporate frequently used CAM therapies. If they responded that they had used a particular modality, they were then asked follow-up questions about its efficacy.

A total of 52 percent of patients reported past or current use of CAM therapies for the treatment of their symptoms. While only 4.3 percent of respondents reported using cannabis, it was ranked among the most effective of all modalities. Only nine of the 207 patients used cannabis, but of those, five reported that the treatment provided “great improvement in their symptoms.”

“While only a small number of participants in our study reported use of cannabis for PD, those that did reported benefits in mood (56%), sleep (56%), motor symptoms (22%), and quality of life (22%),” the study’s authors wrote. None of the patients reported side effects, or that symptoms had become worse.

Vitamins were reportedly the most frequently used CAM, as 66 percent of patients had incorporated them into their treatments. The other common forms of CAM included prayer (49 percent), massage (45 percent), and relaxation techniques (32 percent). Besides cannabis, the other most efficacious CAM treatments were found to be massage, art, music, and meditation.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Colorado, the state in which the study’s participants reside, since 2001. With a doctor’s recommendation, patients can purchase and possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana and up to 6 cannabis plants. Of the 28 other states that have legalized medical marijuana, 18 allow it to be recommended by physicians specifically for Parkinson’s disease or any condition as recommended by a licensed physician.

“While the role of cannabis in PD is not yet clearly delineated we suspect its use will grow in popularity given the recent legalization in select states, the wide range of potential formulations in these states, and increased media attention,” the study reads.

You can access the entire study, “Self-Reported Efficacy of Cannabis and Other Complementary Medicine Modalities by Parkinson’s Disease Patients in Colorado,” via the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Read through the findings of previously-conducted studies investigating the efficacy of cannabis for Parkinson’s disease by visiting our education page.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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