Cannabis is one of the most used drugs in the United States and yields many purposes. These purposes can be said to be very controversial topics. Many individuals are opposed to the legalization of marijuana fearing the legalization will increase the nations drugs use and transform society for the worse. Most of the opposers see it as a “ gateway drug ” allowing users to explore other options for greater “ highs”. On the other spectrum, others believe it’s imperative for medical use.
Some Clients who use medical marijuana claim that they feel more relief of many symptoms and pain in addition to having fewer side effects from smoking marijuana as opposed to taking the prescribed medication to help treat their underlying health conditions. With this information, I raise the question “whether if the use of medical marijuana more effective at treating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as oppose to just solely taking the prescribed anti- Parkinson agents?”
In 1996, California became the very first state in the country to legalize medical marijuana.
Fast-forwarding more than Twenty years later, there are now a total of 30 states who legalized the use of medical marijuana some in which legalized it for recreational usage. The National Institute on Drug abuse states “ the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana… may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.” (“NIDA”2018). Dr.Wilkinson, MD, says that there is simply not enough evidence to prove any therapeutic Benefit.
Wilkinson states “there has been only one randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of smoked marijuana for any of its potential indications, which showed that marijuana was superior to placebo but inferior to Ondansetron in treating nausea. Recent reviews by the Cochrane Collaboration found insufficient evidence to support the use of smoked marijuana for a number of potential indications, including pain related to rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, ataxia or tremor in multiple sclerosis, and cachexia and other symptoms in HIV/AIDS.”(NCBI 2013). He appears to oppose the use simply because there is yet any data to prove otherwise but is not ignorant of the potential the plant holds.
Although there seems to not be enough research done on marijuana, over the recent years we are seeing a great shift in individual’s attitudes towards marijuana causing for more people to raise questions and seek answers. In a recent study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse explored the relationship between—marijuana and the negative aspects of prescription opioids. The first study found “an association between medical marijuana legalization and a reduction in overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers; an effect that strengthened in each year following the implementation of legislation.”—Essentially showing how marijuana can potentially drop the rate of opioid dependence in great quantities; which also addresses what most of the public’s concern—getting addicted and exploring other drugs.
Albeit frustrating, more and more people find themselves exploring the option if marijuana to treat their symptoms. One population that finds themselves exploring the benefits of marijuana are older males typically above the age of 55 who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Having a Tremor is one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which can get worse over the course of the disease. The United States National Library of Medicine states that “More than 75% of Parkinson’s disease patients experience rest tremor at some point during the disease course, and ~60% of patients experience symptomatic tremor during action or movement. Although the near-ubiquity of tremor in early Parkinson’s diseases is beyond dispute, the distress caused by this cardinal motor symptom is commonly underappreciate”. (Frontiers in neurology 2018).—essentially, most people with Parkinson’s disease experience a tremor ranging from mild- extreme that can or cannot affect the activity to daily living. This can be very frustrating and embarrassing for the patient with Parkinson’s Disease causing them to seek help in which they have been typically prescribed levodopa and dopamine agonists.
The American Parkinson Diseases Association identifies the medication to be “considered the gold standard for treating PD motor symptoms when levodopa is taken orally, it crosses into the brain through the ‘blood-brain barrier. Once it crosses, it is converted to dopamine. The resulting increase in brain dopamine concentrations is believed to improve nerve conduction and assist the movement disorders in Parkinson Disease.”(Gilbert 2018).Many studies have proven that the use of this medication has proven to exhibit benefits, but like most medications—often must have its dosage increased and adjusted to yield quality results. But everything in this lifetime seems to come with a price; although it has shown to show results it does come with side effects. SINEMET® (carbidopa-levodopa) is a drug commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease its side effects may be but are not limited to chest pain, hypotension, syncope, anemia…even exacerbations of tremors/dyskinesia.
Most, if not all medications have side effects, simply because medicine is poison in high doses and poison, is medicine in low doses. Those who have used marijuana have reported “marijuana to be a fantastic muscle relaxant and swearing by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. I have also heard of its use quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.”(Grinspoon 2016).
If given the opportunity id gather a small group of patients with Parkinson’s Disease rough of 300 volunteers and record their current symptoms including intensity of tremors. I would then split those 300 volunteers into three groups of 100. This would be a blind study in which one group received a placebo sugar pills, one group safe doses of cannabis oil pills and the last group given their prescribed anti-Parkinson’s medication. I would then monitor for tremors and side effects reported from each group. The objective is to determine which group has their tremors come to a minimum the fastest with less reported side effects.