ISLAMABAD: But findings from a new review suggest symptoms Parkinson's disease could be improved with marijuana.
The review was led by Prof. Zvi Loewy, from the Touro College of Pharmacy in New York, NY. It is published in the journal Parkinson's Disease. The researchers note that medical marijuana has been approved in various U.S. states to treat symptoms of cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, chronic pain, seizures, cachexia, and multiple sclerosis.
The researchers from this latest study say recent research has indicated that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in PD. In detail, components of this system "are highly expressed in the neural circuit of basal ganglia, which is part of a complex neuronal system," they say.
The neuronal system they mention organizes activities from certain cortical regions that are active in movement control.
"When we started doing this review," says Prof. Loewy, "the therapies out there were basically for motor symptoms, but Parkinson's also has non-motor symptoms that greatly impact the quality of a person's life."
To dig deeper, he and his team conducted a thorough literature review on studies of marijuana.
Prof. Loewy notes that marijuana has been found to relieve pain in other diseases, adding that it should be studied for pain relief in people with PD. Pain affects nearly 50 percent of people with the condition, the researchers note.
The researchers say inflammation can damage neurons that produce dopamine - the lack of which contributes to movement problems in Parkinson's. As such, they say preventing neuron damage could slow PD progression.
They note that there is a need for safer drugs to treat PD, adding that cannabis "may provide a viable alternative or addition to the current treatment of Parkinson's disease."
However, as with any substance, there are risks to take into account. Recent research has uncovered some downsides to marijuana use, including memory loss, increased osteoporosis risk, and impaired blood vessel functions.
Furthermore, a study published in April of this year suggested marijuana use may reduce dopamine in the brain, so how this could affect PD should be taken into account.
The researchers from this latest study conclude that "further studies are needed to provide more data on efficacy, safety, pharmacokinetics, and interactions of cannabinoids."