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Ask the Expert: Marijuana and Parkinson's Disease

By PARadmin posted on Date: May 02, 2017

The Parkinson Association of the Rockies has created a new segment on our bi-weekly enews called, "Ask the Parkinson's Expert". Every enews we ask the community to submit a question they may have for a Parkinson's doctor, a selected question will then be answered and featured on the next enews.

All questions are confidential. Not all questions can be answered, so please notify your physician for immediate attention.

Q: "Does marijuana have any benefits for those with Parkinson's?" 

A: “While there is a lot of hype about marijuana and Parkinson's disease, the scientific evidence is much less conclusive. There have been a few survey-based studies and uncontrolled trials that suggest marijuana may be helpful for some Parkinson's symptoms including pain, anxiety, sleep, appetite, and nausea. These studies also suggest that marijuana may help smooth out certain motor symptoms, including dyskinesias. However, to date, all randomized controlled trials of marijuana for motor symptoms in Parkinson's have been negative but it is possible that they were not using the right dose or formulation of marijuana. In my experience, marijuana is more likely to be helpful for non-motor symptoms (e.g. Pain, sleep, appetite) than motor symptoms. Also of note, marijuana may cause side effects including problems with balance or memory so caution should be used with this, starting with a low dose and going up slowly, as with any medication. Cannabis is a complex plant that contains over 65 psychoactive chemicals, many of which actually decrease dopamine thus more research is needed. Dr. Maureen Leehey at the University of Colorado is currently conducting a study of cannabidiol (CBD) for Parkinson's tremor. Interested persons can email Nicole Leith."

                            - Benzi Kluger, MD, University of Colorado Hospital 



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