Researchers continue to work on defining safety for cannabis in Parkinson’s. And several studies are looking at possible benefits on specific symptoms. For the most up-to-date clinical trial information, visit Fox Trial Finder .
Here, we offer general information about cannabis and Parkinson’s, tips for talking with your doctor, and more.
Why is cannabis research difficult?
In low doses, cannabinoids appear to be relatively well tolerated. But, like all treatments, they have potential side effects: new or worsened nausea; dizziness; weakness; hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there); mood, behavior or memory/thinking (cognitive) changes; or imbalance. Regular smoking or vaping also could cause lung damage. The potential risks on cognition, mood and motivation (to exercise or participate in other activities, for example) are especially important for people with PD.
What is medical marijuana?
Under federal law, doctors cannot prescribe cannabis. But qualified doctors (those who have completed additional training and registration) can issue “certifications” that permit patients to get a license for medical cannabis. Many doctors choose not to pursue qualification and therefore are not able to issue certifications. (Some states maintain registries of qualified doctors that you can search online.)
There are many anecdotal reports of benefit. But controlled trials — on motor and non-motor symptoms as well as dyskinesia (involuntary, uncontrolled movement) — have not yet proven the safety or benefits of cannabis in Parkinson’s.
What is cannabis?
Cannabis refers to products from the Cannabis plant, including marijuana.
This builds on exciting previous findings. Because PD affects the brain’s ability to produce dopamine, researchers from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, made an important discovery a few years ago when they found that CBD potentially increases dopamine levels, which would counteract the steady decrease of dopaminergic nerve cells experienced by those afflicted with PD.
● CBD is also available with limited or no THC content (generally under .3% to under 5% THC) in the following states: Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Misperceptions & Myths
There is no preferred method of CBD administration for persons with Parkinson’s Disease. Patients should choose a method with which they are most comfortable and one which is not hampered by tremors. If success with CBD is found, users should choose an administration method which can accommodate frequent and ongoing usage.
Insurance Coverage of CBD
For convenience, many dispensaries also provide delivery services. Unfortunately, dispensaries are not legal in every state. Oftentimes one can find hemp-derived CBD in local health stores. If taken once daily, a continuous regimen of CBD would cost approximately $2-$3 per day. As detailed in the following section, insurance will not cover the cost, therefore the daily cost would be out-of-pocket.