Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years. It affects nerves that help to co-ordinate muscle movements. As the condition progresses, symptoms often worsen, making it increasingly difficult to carry out everyday activities without help.

What are the symptoms?

Patients with Parkinson’s Disease can experience a wide range of both physical and psychological symptoms. The three main symptoms are:

  • Involuntary shaking of parts of the body (known as tremors)
  • Slow movement
  • Stiff and inflexible muscles

Other symptoms can include:

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Problems with balance (which may increase the risk of falls)
  • Loss of sense of smell (Anosmia)
  • Sleep problems (Insomnia)
  • Memory problems

Cause and treatment

Parkinson’s Disease is caused by the loss of nerves cells in the part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in dopamine – a chemical which plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. The reduction of dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms ofParkinson’s disease.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, however, there area number of treatment options available to help treat symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible as the condition develops. During the early stages of the disease, treatment may not be necessary as symptoms are usually mild.

Traditional treatment options include:

  • Supportive treatments, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • Medications
  • Brain surgery may be considered in some cases

Medical Cannabis and Parkinson's Disease

Cannabis-based medicines may be useful in helping to alleviate pain and tremors as well as in improving ease of movement, quality of life measures (i.e., sleep, mood). The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis may also help to improve the side effects of some current Parkinson’s Disease medications.

Clinical research into the benefits of cannabis for Parkinson’s Disease is still ongoing and there is currently no definitive proof on the subject. However, there is a high incidence of anecdotal evidence from patients with Parkinson’s Disease who have found medical cannabis to be useful. For example, a survey by Parkinson’s UK found that 26% of patients with the condition having used cannabis to manage pain and discomfort associated with their illness.

Our specialist physicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.