Parkinson's Disease

Get the PDF Version of this DocumentParkinson's Disease central nervous system

Parkinson's is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that results in tremor, slowed movement, and muscle rigidity. There is no cure for PD, but some conventional medications are available to treat symptoms of the disease.

Survey data reports that Parkinson's patients believe cannabis to be highly efficacious at mitigating disease symptoms, particularly in the treatment of non-motor symptoms.[1-2] Observational trial data supports these claims. Specifically, investigators at Tel Aviv University, Department of Neurology evaluated Parkinson's disease symptoms in 22 patients at baseline and 30-minutes after inhaling cannabis. Researchers reported that inhaled cannabis was associated with "significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinsea (slowness of movement). There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores. No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed."[3] They concluded: "The study opens new venues for treatment strategies in PD especially in patients refractory to current medications."

The administration of individual cannabinoids also likely addresses various PD symptoms. According to a series of case summaries published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics in 2014, daily cannabidiol treatment reduced symptoms REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in patients with Parkinson's.[4] Placebo-controlled clinical data further reports that CBD administration is associated with improved "quality of life" and "well being" in PD patients.[5] The compound has also been shown to mitigate symptoms of psychosis in patients with the disease.[6]

As a result, some experts in the field now speculate that "various cannabinoids or other compounds targeting the endogenous cannabinoid system might be useful in the treatment of PD symptoms."[7]


[1] Finseth et al. 2015. Self-reported efficacy of cannabis and other complementary medicine modalities by Parkinson's disease patients in Colorado. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In Print.

[2] Venderova et al. 2002. Survey on cannabis use in Parkinson's disease: Subjective improvement of motor symptoms. Movement Disorders 19: 1102-1106.

[3] Lotan et al. 2014. Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: an open-label observational study. Clinical Neuropharmacology 37: 41-44.

[4] Chagas et al. 2014. Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson's disease patients: a case series. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 39: 564-566.

[5] Chagas et al. 2014. Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease: an exploratory double-blind trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology 28: 1088-1098.

[6] Zuardi et al. 2009. Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson's disease. Journal of Psychopharmacology 23: 979-983.

[7] Venderova et al. 2002. Op. cit.