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Cannabinoid Treatments May Offer Novel Therapy For Parkinson's Disease

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Frankfurt, Germany: Cannabis-based medicines could offer therapeutic relief for symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) and may also moderate the course of the illness, according to a scientific review published this month in the journal Current Medicinal Chemistry.

"Cannabinoids are antioxidant, inhibit glutamate toxicity, and they also possess anti-inflammatory properties," authors state. "All together, we can conclude that cannabinoid-based medicines could be neuroprotective in the course of the disease, whereas [individual] compounds ... might modulate the behavioral effects of ... PD motor symptoms themselves."

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting the basal ganglia that results in a loss of motor coordination, organ failure, and death. The disease is characterized by a loss of dopaminergic neurons, typically resulting from brain inflammation, glutamate overproduction, and/or oxidative stress. The illness is estimated to affect approximately 2 percent of the population over age 65.

Survey data indicates that cannabis can provide subjective relief for symptoms of PD, including bradykinsia (extreme slowness of movement and reflexes), muscle rigidity, and tremor. However, a recent clinical trial assessing the short-term use of oral THC on symptoms of PD found the drug to have little immediate effect on patients' movement.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "An overview of Parkinson's disease and the cannabinoid system and possible benefits of cannabinoid-based treatments," appears in the December issue of Current Medicinal Chemistry.





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