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Cannabis and Parkinson’s

Scientific studies on cannabis, also known as marijuana, and the active ingredients of the cannabinoid family that this plant contains have not yet provided enough evidence on their effectiveness in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Whether for therapeutic or recreational use, Parkinson Québec therefore does not recommend the use of cannabis or its derivatives.

To date, cannabinoids have not demonstrated any effect on:

  • The progression of the disease
  • Motor symptoms of the disease (tremors, rigidity and slow movements)
  • Dyskinesia (involuntary abnormal movements) related to the use of L-Dopa
  • Dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions)

On the other hand, cannabinoids have been shown to be effective in treating neuropathic pain (related to damage to the nervous system) and muscle spasms. However, this has not been confirmed in people living with Parkinson’s disease.

Anecdotal reports from patients report improvement in symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, nausea, decreased appetite, restless legs syndrome, restless dreams and agitation. These individual reports, although encouraging, cannot be considered as convincing evidence of the efficacy of these products in the population at large.

On the other hand, cannabis and its derivatives have many documented side effects. These include cognitive and perceptive disorders, anxiety and depression, nausea, intense fatigue, changes in behaviour or mood, hallucinations and dizziness. People living with Parkinson’s disease are also more likely to experience amotivational syndrome (apathy, lack of motivation, social withdrawal, reduced interest and disinvestment) than other chronic cannabis users.

Cannabis and its derivatives can also interfere with antiparkinsonian medications and other psychotropic drugs (anxiolytics and antidepressants).

If you are thinking about consuming cannabis, we recommend speaking about it with your doctor first. They will be able to give you informed advice based on your own health and condition.

Parkinson Québec supports research on cannabinoids so that scientific evidence can support, or disprove, the efficacy and safety of these products to better manage Parkinson’s disease.

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