Cannabinoid Therapeutics in Parkinson’s Disease: Promise and Paradox

parkinsons research

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are debilitating and dehumanizing. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis and cannabinoids might help with some of the symptoms. Studies have shown that the pain of spasticity could possibly be reduced by cannabis. Parkinson’s induced psychosis has shown to be alleviated with cannabis.

However problems with translating the results of animal and in vitro (in labs) results have led to a lot of confusion. The results of one study seem to contradict another, and there are considerable gaps in the knowledge of the endocannabinoid system with relation to Parkinson’s.

In Parkinson’s disease, there is a problem with oxidative stress. The inflammatory systems that usually keep the brain safe from disease start malfunctioning and cause damage to the brain cells. One of the key processes that the endocannabinoid system regulates is inflammation, so it looks like we could use this system to address some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

The areas of the brain that Parkinson’s affects are some of the most intensely concentrated areas of endocannabinoid receptors. This implies a close link between Parkinson’s and a dysregulated endocannabinoid system.

Cannabinoids can have neuroprotective effects. Because Parkinson’s destroys brain cells, it is hoped that cannabinoids might be used to protect against this. Other forms of dementia have shown promise with cannabinoid therapy as well.

Taking cannabis has been shown to be associated with increased motor function and less pain in Parkinson’s disease. However, smoking is very bad for Parkinson’s, so other methods of administration are required. A lot of anecdotal evidence does not make up for a lack of quality scientific data. As that data is produced, we will be providing you with simple synopses like this on Make sure you check back for all the latest.

Small studies, bad methodology, dubious statistical analysis, and inconsistent measurements make the picture of cannabinoid / Parkinson’s research very confused. In laboratories, cannabinoids have been shown to be very effective at preventing the development of Parkinson’s pathologies. The mechanisms match up and it seems to work. In the lab.

Unfortunately, these results have not been translated into human trials. Clearly, the endocannabinoid system is important in Parkinson’s but it is very complex and hard to understand. Difficulties with using animal models have made comparing the results difficult. The Parkinsonism induced in rodents is thought to be significantly different to human Parkinsonism.

Cannabinoids have many targets in the brain and there is a complex web of interactions that is not well understood yet. This lack of understanding, combined with the emerging importance of entourage effects (the use of several cannabinoids at once to make them more effective), mean that cannabinoid therapy is not a simple thing to investigate with Parkinson’s disease.

More research is needed, we will keep you up to date when it is delivered.

Click here to download the research paper.

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