While much of the medical and pharmaceutical industries are seeking solutions to Parkinson disease via chemical, man-made means, there are other therapies which do not require habit-forming and potentially harmful medications. According to a new study, medical cannabis has been shown safe and effective in the treatment of Parkinsonism. Now that so many states are making the plant medicine legal, patients are finally getting access to a treatment which can help to improve their lives without incurring unnecessary risk.
The standard treatment for Parkinson disease has long been levodopa, L-dopa for short. Doctors have thus far been kept in the dark about plant medications such as medical cannabis. L-dopa comes with a host of potential side effects and difficulties with use. Patients who are on a steady regimen of the drug are warned to not miss any doses. The drug can interfere with sleep, bowel movements, and cause forgetfulness and confusion. When a patient is constipated for too long and the bowel becomes impacted, excess toxicity can build up causing unnecessary secondary problems.
Levodopa is also known to cause depression, suicidal thoughts, hives, and rapid heartbeat. Some elderly patients have been disturbed by nightmares brought on by the drug and they have fallen out of bed as a result. In an elderly patient, a fall can result in a broken hip. When a Parkinsonism patient is immobilized by a broken hip, the disease is known to develop at a rapid pace. Even with out the debilitation of a broken hip, a patient might cease activities due to the drug-related depression. Patients might consider all of these side-effects and be on the lookout should they arise, lest they cause secondary problems and further erode their ability to enjoy a full life.
Meanwhile, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a review in late April, 2014 which recommended the continuation of levodopa therapy. The abstract made no reference to patients’ risk of side-effects or secondary problems which might arise as a result of using the pharmaceutical. Nor was it stated whether the study was funded or influenced by interested parties in the pharmaceutical industry. Once it was common practice for journals to report potential conflicts of interest, but that reporting stopped in light of the fact that so many studies were tainted. Without further information, it should be assumed that pharmaceutical industry is involved in studies related to their products.
Medical cannabis does offer an effective, and safe, treatment for those suffering Parkinsonism. The medical journal Clinical Neuropharmacology recently released an observational study which offers new hope to those enslaved by the dual demons of pharmaceutical drugs and Parkinson disease. The study was small and preliminary, but promising. Twenty-two patients were observed after smoking cannabis using five separate measures of Parkinson disease symptoms.
The study qualified the improvements in the study participants as ″significant″ especially on the pain and sleep scores. The authors suggested that larger, more comprehensive studies commence. Given that there has been no clear evidence that medical cannabis treatment is addictive nor harmful in any way, it is clear that more states need to make this safe and effective medicine available to its citizens which suffer Parkinsonism.
By Hobie Anthony