Currently, there is insufficient scientific evidence that cannabis and all the active substances contained in this plant (cannabinoid family) are an effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease or can alleviate its symptoms.
More specifically, cannabinoids have not demonstrated their efficacy on:
- The disease progression;
- The management of motor symptoms associated with the disease (tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movements);
- L-Dopa induced dyskinesia (abnormal involuntary movements);
- Dystonia (muscle spasms).
However; there is evidence regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids in the management of neuropathic pain and muscular spasm pain. However, this evidence was not generated in people living with Parkinson disease.
Finally, anecdotal patient reports indicate improvements with insomnia, anxiety, nausea, loss of appetite, rest leg syndrome, and REM behavior disorder (acting out dreams). These individual reports, although encouraging, cannot be considered as convincing evidence for the efficacy in the general population.
Furthermore, cannabis and its components have many documented side effects. Cognitive disorders, anxiety, depression, nausea, intense fatigue, behavioral and mood changes, hallucinations, and dizziness are among the most frequently reported. People living with Parkinson’s disease also experience a more severe amotivational syndrome (apathy, lack of motivation and interest, disinvestment, social withdrawal) than chronic cannabis users
In addition, cannabis and its components interfere with antiparkinsonian medications, and other psychoactive medications (anxiolytics, antidepressants).
As such, Parkinson Québec does not recommend the use of cannabis or its components for either medical or recreational use.
However, if you are considering using it, we recommend that you discuss it with your physician. Your doctor will be able to give you an informed and personalised opinion taking into consideration your condition and specific health needs.
Parkinson Québec supports research on cannabinoids in order to generate scientific evidence to support, or refute, the efficacy and safety of these products in Parkinson’s disease.